Still Sorry After All These Years
With all the mud spattered on the Confederate Battle Flag of late, you knew it wouldn’t be long before Ol’ Virginny scrubbed up for Jamestown’s 400th anniversary with a grandiloquent apology for slavery. And Georgia, New York, and other former colonies of the original 13 will soon join the state in the confessional tub and lather up with the ideological lye faster than you can say Jackie Robinson.
Some Virginians wondered why they should apologize for something that occurred before any of us, white or black, was born. “Get over it,” Virginia Del. Frank D. Hargrove told blacks before the resolution passed the General Assembly in February, which only energized the apology’s spear carriers and got them pounding the war drums.
The apology rage is another front in the culture war against the South, in particular, and American history, in general. The Southern Baptists gibbered an apology for slavery over a decade ago, and newspapers gabble contrition for their soporific coverage of the “civil-rights struggle.” Never mind the old liberal mantra that only individuals, not groups, are responsible for wrongdoing: One group is the sum of all evils. The resolution is clear on that, and its startling rhetoric and risible leftist moonshine show just what its authors had in mind: perpetual guilt and atonement from whites; perpetual grievance for blacks. One likely goal of this apology, given the failed lawsuits filed against venerable corporations over their involvement with slavery 200 years ago, is the procurement of reparations. Another may well be the election of Barack Hussein Obama.
This Virginia resolution is an extraordinary and subtle ideological indictment not just of slavery but of the United States. “For many African Americans,” it says, “the scars left behind are unbearable, haunting their psyches and clouding their vision of the future and of America’s many attributes . . . ” It also quotes President Bush’s apology for slavery, in which he insisted that, “while physical slavery is dead, the legacy is alive.” Indeed, the resolution continues, “The vestiges of slavery are ever before African American citizens.” Their “psyche[s]” are “haunt[ed]” by both the “overt racism of hate groups” and the “subtle racism” they experience “when requesting health care, transacting business, buying a home, seeking quality public education and college admission, and enduring pretextual [sic] traffic stops and other indignities.” Only official apologies, then, can “assuage” their “perpetual pain, distrust and bitterness.”
“Poppycock” is about the only reply this ideological indictment deserves. Words such as “unbearable,” “haunting,” and “perpetual,” as well as the fibs and hyperbole about “subtle racism” in housing, healthcare, and education, all lead to some inescapable observations and conclusions, the first of which is that an event that occurred 200 years ago cannot haunt a man today. This “perpetual pain, distrust and bitterness” is no more real than the “repressed memories” recovered in victims of “past abuse,” who suddenly “remember” events suggested by headshrinkers.
Yet even an apology bereft of this ideological hokum would be silly, as some blacks are attesting. “I don’t want or need an apology for slavery,” writes Lyle V. Harris, a black editorialist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Said a professor at historically black Clark Atlanta University, “I’m not sure the average [black] guy who works from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. is thinking about this.”
He isn’t thinking about it, of course, and neither are whites who know the politicians’ game. Like Hargrove, they aren’t sorry for anything except electing the politicians who assiduously assist professional race hustlers in attempting to make them feel guilty for something that happened in the 19th century.
Whites are terrified, however. They know what awaits those who cross the Pettus Bridge of modern racial taboo by defending themselves and opposing the antiwhite Zeitgeist: a rubber-hosing with the r-word.
The overall effort exerted by proponents of the Virginia apology suggests a certain desperation: The race hustlers, you see, know their jig is up. No one, least of all young whites, wants to hear about segregation and Jim Crow today, for the same reason Hargrove thinks Virginia’s groveling apology is ridiculous: None of them had anything to do with it. Millions of black Americans are members of the middle class, and others, such as Bill Cosby, Tiger Woods, Colin Powell, and, of course, Barack Obama, have reached the pinnacle of financial, social, and political success. This truth delegitimizes continued caterwauling about racism and discrimination, which is why the race hustlers need the apology. It is a Trojan horse. The real import of the resolution is not the apology per se, but its list of interminable and unforgivable grievances that are little more than an antiwhite bill of attainder.
Everyone, including its authors, knows the apology won’t change anything. Slavery is unforgivable. Its “legacy” is “unbearable,” “haunting,” and “perpetual,” much like Original Sin. All whites bear its stain; all blacks, its pain. But if Baptism removes the stain of Original Sin, surely the War Between the States, with some 600,000 dead, and 50 years of state and federal civil-rights legislation, should have expiated the sin of slavery. It didn’t, of course, which is why we need another “apology.” And the apology, in turn, reminds us why we need more race laws concerning jobs and college admissions and justifies all manner of pernicious discrimination and racial attacks against whites. All of this will further convince some whites, particularly average voters and politicians ignorant of history and uninterested in learning about it, that they bear the guilt for every crime in history since Cain killed Abel.
The Los Angeles Times has dubbed Barack Obama “The Magic Negro.” He’s a “non-threatening” black presidential candidate, the liberals say, for whom a white soccer mom can comfortably vote. As Sen. Joe Biden infamously said, “You got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”
So whites can confess and apologize for the besetting sin of slavery. Then they can do penance by voting for Obama.
R. Cort Kirkwood is the author of Real Men: Ten Courageous Americans to Know and Admire (Cumberland House).
This article first appeared in the May 2007 issue of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture.