House Issues An Apology For Slavery
By Darryl Fears
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 30, 2008; Page A03
The House yesterday apologized to black Americans, more than 140 years after slavery was abolished, for the "fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality and inhumanity of slavery and Jim Crow" segregation.
The resolution, which passed on a voice vote late in the day, was sponsored by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), a white Jew who represents a majority-black district in Memphis. Cohen tried unsuccessfully to join the Congressional Black Caucus this year.
"I hope that this is part of the beginning of a dialogue that this country needs to engage in, concerning what the effects of slavery and Jim Crow have been," Cohen said. "I think we started it and we're going to continue."
. . . In recent years, black activists seeking reparations for slavery have gotten private companies, such as banks, insurers and railroads, to apologize for playing a role in bankrolling, insuring, capturing and transporting slaves.
In 2005, Wachovia Corp. revealed that one bank it acquired had put thousands of slaves to work on a railroad. That same year, JPMorgan Chase apologized for the role that a subsidiary had played in using 10,000 slaves as collateral and accepting more than 1,000 slaves as payments when owners defaulted on loans.
Sportscasters say a lot of really stupid things. One of their stupidities goes something like this: we expect college team A to win today because, over the last thirty years when team A played team B, team A has won 70% of the time.
The problem is that neither of these teams has anything near continuity in a thirty year period. Team A of today is a completely different team today than it was even ten years ago.
Now stupidity is not limited to sportscasters. It can be found in much greater concentrations in Congress. We might ask Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) and his dim-witted colleagues a question: to whom are you apologizing? Except for taxpayers, there aren’t that many slaves around today in the U.S.
The weenies at Wachovia Corp. And JPMorgan Chase could be asked some of the same questions. I am just guessing here, but odds are no one connected to either of these companies today has ever owned a slave, or even approves of slave-owning. I could be wrong, but I’m going out on a limb here.
Here is another relevant question: for whom are you apologizing? As far as I know, there are no slave owners represented by Congress today. (Again, it could be argued that taxpayers are slaves to Congress.)
If Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) thinks he and the House of Representatives are apologizing on behalf of those slave owners of 140 years or more ago, perhaps he should not be so presumptuous. Does he think they would all say they are sorry, even if they could say?
Of course, the audacity of Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) should not be underestimated. The same sort of nut case who would have the House apologize to dead people probably thinks he knows what all the dead slave-holders of the past are thinking.
But perhaps this is not so far-fetched. After all, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) is one of the members of Congress. Aren't they seated on high, right next to God - on His left side, of course!