A Matter Of Regret, Not Apology

Only last week, the state of Virginia passed a resolution apologizing for its role in slavery. Today, in Britain, a group of white aging hippies – chained and manacled – began marching from London to Hull, in the north-east of England, as part of a campaign demanding Britain apologize for its part in the slave trade.

Let’s make a distinction here.

There seems to be some confusion, both in Britain and Virginia, between “regret” and “apology”. Virginia delegates voted to express “profound regret” for the state’s involvement in slavery, which is a bit silly, but fine if it makes them feel better – and then, according to the Yahoo news report, went on to say:

“……..they know of no other state that has apologized for slavery……..”

The Bible certainly talks of “……visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children……”, but if by that it means we must apologize to…….. whoever(?) for the wicked avarice of our ancestors, then count me out. I believe it would be a presumption on my part to do so. Not only is it utterly stupid, but illogical.

Conversely, I have no problem with expressing regret at the actions of my forefathers, for I consider they were a disgusting, corrupt, selfish and brutal set of monsters who, had they faced any form of justice, should have been whipped around the town till the skin fell from their bones. Sadly, that fate more often befell their victims.

If the good gentlemen of Virginia are expressing their personal guilt based on Biblical doctrine, then it may have been unnecessary. While the quote above suggests guilt may be fairly apportioned to the descendants of the “sinful”, Deuteronomy 24:16 says, “Fathers shall not be put to death for their sons, nor shall sons be put to death for their fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin.”

Which would seem to make overly-belated apologies unnecessary.

As for the aging hippies of Britain, emulating the slaves of their ancestors with chains and manacles (and sore feet, it’s a long way from London to Hull) in the hope of shaming Brittania into an apology, I have only three words to say to them:

Get a life!

Frankly, while regretting the suffering of all those who were forced into slave labor, my sentiments tend to lie with those of Virginia Republican delegate Frank D. Hargrove, before he became a turncoat and voted for the resolution, who said it was time “black citizens got over slavery.” Britain and America between them have lit enough conflagrations in the world already this century, without dwelling on the mistakes of long ago.

If the good gentlemen of Virginia and the somewhat dubious British contingent marching to Hull, were campaigning for an apology to the unfortunate Iraqis, for Britain’s and America’s continuing crimes against that people , then they would have my full and complete support.

The world changes little. Brutality is still practiced in abundance, only today it is generally at a distance rather than on our own doorsteps. It may well be another hundred and fifty years before our descendants feel some strange compulsion to apologize for the sins of their ancestors, to the descendants of those people in Iraq who are suffering at our country’s whim today.

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2 Replies to “A Matter Of Regret, Not Apology”

  1. As I was reading your post about slavery, I kept thinking to myself, what about the people of Iraq? Tnen at the end my question was answered. When do you think we’ll say I’m sorry to the Native Americans? Yes, mankind has been awful to one another throughout history. The saddest part is that it continues.

    There are children growing up in Iraq who will most likely hate us all their lives. Some have injuries that will remind them every day what we have done to them. Our saying that we’re sorry will never change that.

  2. PoP – I believe the Virginia delegates threw in a rider to their resolution, expressing ‘regret for “the exploitation of Native Americans.”‘ That makes it all alright, then!

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