General Question

Facade's avatar

What was the point of the senate apologizing for slavery and segregation?

Asked by Facade (22881points) June 18th, 2009

Just wondering.

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13 Answers

kenmc's avatar

They have to do something with their time.

I’d much prefer them being pro-active about the economy though.

augustlan's avatar

It’s never too late to apologize.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

I think it’s a bit of a hollow gesture.

Phobia's avatar

Because the government is behind on things like usual.

DominicX's avatar

I agree with @The_Compassionate_Heretic. I never thought stuff like this really has any meaning because it’s not like the senators apologizing are the ones who were responsible for it. And I don’t think anyone who was not responsible for it or was not involved in it owes anything to former slaves or those affected by slavery.

Facade's avatar

@DominicX My mother picked cotton when she was young, so you never know, they might have been.

DeanV's avatar

Sure it’s hollow, but it’s better than nothing.

RedPowerLady's avatar

You must start with recognizing the wrongs of the past before we can move forward in healing them.

It is actually a fantastic step. I’m not saying it isn’t hollow or that it will create change but it does set important legal precedent, getting to the next reason it is important. Once the government admits it was wrong (apologizes) then communities can move forward with getting those wrongs righted. This could be through reparations or another example would be getting racist court rulings over-turned. Some Supreme Court cases, for example, were based on false racial beliefs. Now that the government has said: “actually we did do these things and they were wrong”, some of these court cases may be able to be re-examined.

It also opens up the ability to have race and oppression related conversations. We can start on common ground. This is especially important where the government is concerned.

susanc's avatar

These senators aren’t speaking as individuals, they’re speaking as representatives of the nation.

Until the U.S. government admits that the U.S. government perpetuated a wrong policy, the U.S. government doesn’t have to take responsibility for it.

@RedPowerLady says it. Maybe she’s spent more time thinking about this than some of us whiteys have. Ya think?

Aethelwine's avatar

The person that did the wrongdoing is the only person that can apologize, otherwise it means nothing. Should I apologize to my mother because my father was such a jerk and cheated on her for most of their marriage? No. I can only set a good example for my children and show them how a spouse treats the other. That is how our future learns.

aprilsimnel's avatar

As the Senate is the senior legislative body of the country and because it was our own government that said male slaves were worth only 3/5 of a human in the Constitution, it seems to me that it was done as a formal acknowledgment by the federal government that the United States as a national entity fully realizes that what happened in those days was wrong. That’s all.

mattbrowne's avatar

@jonsblond – In principle, you are right, however it’s more complicated when it comes to collectives and representatives of collectives, in this case a whole country. Barack Obama can’t simply say I don’t care what Bush/Cheney did during the previous 8 years. Hey, I wasn’t involved. Obama represents a country. Of course there’s no need to apologize personally, but if someone represents a country he or she represents the history and how to deal with it in the present as well.

A good example from my country is

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kniefall

Warschauer Kniefall (German for “Warsaw Genuflection”) refers to a gesture of humility and penance by social democratic Chancellor of Germany Willy Brandt towards the victims of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

So, it was an extremely important gesture that the senate apologized for slavery and segregation. It should have happened earlier, but as @augustlan said, it’s never too late to apologize.

atlantis's avatar

The apology could also have been accompanied by a practical gesture of compensation like more funding towards racial integration and tolerance and race education programs or something.

Just a mere apology makes it even more insulting at this point. After a black president is elected by popular vote.

Deja vu anyone?

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