A proposal in the Virginia House of Delegates that calls for an “apology for slavery” to Virginia’s black citizens was being debated on Monday (Martin Luther King’s birthday) when comments that Virginia Delegate Frank D. Hargrove Sr. made to the Charlottesville Daily Progress newspaper were brought into the fray. According to an article in the Richmond (Virginia) Times-Dispatch, Hargrove was quoted as saying:
“Are we going to force the Jews to apologize for killing Christ? Nobody living today had anything to do with it. It would be far more appropriate in my view to apologize to the Upper Mattaponi and the Pamunkey” Indians for the loss of their lands in eastern Virginia.
“On the other hand, not a soul in this legislature had anything to do with slavery. (It is) harmful to society in general to keep recycling this thing which we all know and all despise and all have no respect for.”
That bit of common sense (blunt and unarguably tactless but none the less common sense) has Del. Hargrove in the sights of all the proponents of the apology and has branded him as an insensitive racist.
A person doesn’t have to be a racist to see quite clearly that the proposal for an apology to blacks for slavery is ridiculous. It is harmless I suppose and will probably provide some measure of satisfaction to those who are deluded enough to suppose that the Commonwealth and its citizens in the 21st Century have some reason to apologize for the indefensible actions of the state’s residents back in the 17th and 18th Centuries.
The part of Del. Hargrove’s remarks (above) that is getting the least attention but deserves much more is his statement that it is “harmful to society in general to keep recycling this thing which we all know and all despise and all have no respect for.” No one advances himself or herself in society or in his or her own mind by adopting a victim mentality and a spurious apology will do nothing more than reinforce that victim mentality.
A couple final points:
It should be obvious that Del. Hargrove’s remark: “Are we going to force the Jews to apologize for killing Christ?” was an attempt to point out how inappropriate apologies are when made by people who have nothing to do with the original affront — it was not a serious proposition asking for an apology from Jews. That SHOULD be obvious but it apparently is not obvious to those of a certain mindset.
The news and blog coverage of this story is getting confused. The Virginia proposal has to do with slavery, NOT with the racial attitudes (segregation for one) that were still around in the 20th Century and, unfortunately, will still exist in some individuals far into the 21st.
Richmond Times-Dispatch: Hargrove offends blacks, Jews
CBS News: Slavery Remarks Spark Outrage
From the blogosphere:
Hampton Roads Insights: Apologize? Tangled issues
Deo Vindice: 16/01: Groveling as Governance
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