Friday, June 19, 2009 at 8:15 AM
Of course, it is noteworthy that this apology comes 140 years after the abolition of slavery and decades after black Americans began pleading for the government to issue it. And the only reason for this unconscionable delay is that the government feared an apology would validate longstanding demands for more vexing and costly reparations.
No doubt, those fears will now be realized; especially since this resolution commits the House to “rectifying the lingering consequences of the misdeeds committed against African-Americans under slavery and Jim Crow.”
Nevertheless, the Senate is due to pass a similar resolution in due course.
[US Congress finally apologizes for slavery, TIJ, July 30, 2008]
This was how I acknowledged the belated apology for slavery the US House of Representatives issued last year. And the Senate duly followed suit yesterday.
Admittedly, as far as apologies go, it is quite significant. Not to mention the symbolism of issuing on the eve of “Juneteenth” – a day (June 19) of celebration commemorating the end of the Civil War in 1865 and the emancipation of blacks from American slavery.
But nothing demonstrates that the US government has no intention of putting its money where its mouth is quite like the disclaimer the Senate included in its apology resolution, which states that “nothing in it supports or authorizes reparations by the United States.”
Therefore, no matter how the House intended to rectify the “lingering consequences” of slavery and Jim Crow, when these two apologies are reconciled, the Senate’s disclaimer will prevail. This means that blacks will receive no compensation for America’s “original sin” that was committed against their ancestors.
Finally, here, for the record, is how I expressed my view in a previous commentary that claims for reparations are fatally flawed:
Claims by Holocaust survivors and interned Japanese were successful primarily because direct links could be established between the perpetrators of the harm alleged and surviving victims of that harm. By contrast, no such links exist between the institution of slavery and modern-day claimants for reparations.
[The fatally flawed demand for reparations, CNN, February 16, 2007]
Besides, wasn’t the past 40 years of Affirmative Action intended to rectify the lingering consequences of slavery and Jim Crow? Notwithstanding that white women and wealthy blacks were the ones who benefited most…. Enough already!