Should NC apologize for slavery?
Would you apologize for something you did not do? How many times does an institution have to make amends for previous wrongs? Is the answer just once or ad infinitum? When it comes to the issue of slavery and racial oppression, apparently the answer is ad infinitum. Fayetteville Democrat, Senator Tony Rand is a sponsor of 86 different bills in the Senate this session. The one that has garnered the most attention is S1557, a joint resolution to formally apologize for the institution of slavery by the State of North Carolina.
The bill says, "Be it resolved by the Senate, the House of Representatives concurring:The General Assembly issues its apology for the practice of slavery in North Carolina and expresses its profound contrition for the official acts that sanctioned and perpetuated the denial of basic human rights and dignity to fellow humans." In and of itself, there is nothing wrong with recognizing the past wrongs of a governmental organization. I do take issue with the contrition aspect in this bill, however. I find it to be more of a political pandering than anything contrite.
Unless my math is very wrong, the Civil War ended 142 years or so ago. The 13th and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution (1865 and 1870) rectified the previously acceptable practice of slavery, as originally incorporated into the 1787 document. During that war, 360,000 Union soldiers died to help with the cause of abolition.
Make no mistake, the war was not anywhere near totally about abolition. It is more about slavery than many Southerners preach and far less so than many Yankees teach. Having lived in both the North and the South, I have heard both versions of history. After the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, abolition officially became a war goal. The proclamation itself freed nobody. The warfare to back it up freed millions.
Before you think that slavery was totally a racial issue, keep in mind that a good many slave owners were Black themselves. The Cherokee also owned many Black slaves. Many American Indians were sold into slavery and exported in the 1600's. Many Africans sold other Africans into slavery for importation to the North American continent.
I find it ironic that the main sponsors of a formal apology coming 150 years too late are Democrats, although the bill has passed the Senate with bi-partisan support. The Democrats are the ones who opposed abolition in the South and wanted to leave the topic alone in the North. The Republican Party began in the 1850's as an abolitionist party. The Democrats were the ones who supported Jim Crow laws. They are now the same party that tries to keep people in economic and social slavery, yet currently attract the very people to whom they are attempting to apologize.
Bringing up the issue of slavery today merely picks at a scab to reopen a sore wound. Sure, we should teach history, but teach it accurately. The good, the bad, and the ugly should all be taught as history for all to learn thereby. However, to dredge up the same topic to no real benefit is not a productive use of our time, our legislature, resources, or money.
I don't know about you, but I don't think that there are any people alive today that were under the bondage of slavery in this nation. Nor are there any people alive who perpetrated this gross injustice. Other than a "warm fuzzy to sooth the conscience", what does the apology do? Essentially, just waste time and money. The best apology is to encourage with social and economic freedom and to treat all with dignity, respect, and love.
Speaking of respect, in reading the Senate bill and most newspaper articles, slaves and their descendants are referred to as "blacks". It is not that this is a disrespectful term, but I noticed that not once did the bill's author or the media have sufficient respect to capitalize the word, since it refers to an entire race of people. I come from a French family, not a french family. Similarly, there should be enough respect for those to whom the bill's author believes an apology is due to at least capitalize the term "Blacks". Perhaps that is just my opinion, but I sure feel that it is accurate. For a free hour long monologue on this topic, contact me.