November 27, 2007

Sins of the father onto the son

Below (in blue) are excerpts from a particularly well
written article on the Age of Apology, by Gorman Beauchamp

We live amid a veritable tsunami of apology. The Catholic Church,
which, of course, has much to apologize for, has, of late, offered
mea culpas to Galileo, the Jews, the gypsies, Jan Hus, whom it
burned at the stake in 1415, even to Constantinople (now Istanbul)
for its sacking 800 years ago by the knights of the Fourth Crusade,
an event for which the late John Paul II expressed deep regret.
No wonder that a group in England, claiming descent from the
medieval Knights Templars, is asking the Vatican to apologize
for the violent suppression of the order and for torturing to death
its Grand Master Jacques de Molay in 1314, an apology timed to
commemorate the 700th anniversary of that fell deed.
The reparations-for-slavery movement in the United States,
inchoate and sputtering as it is, provides a paradigm of our
apologizing-for-history syndrome. Slavery today is, of course,
widely if not universally condemned as an evil practice, its
presence in our nation’s early days a blot on our history.
Americans practiced and profited from slavery for more than
200 years, and so we should, the argument runs, however
belatedly, have to pay for it. But pay whom, and how?
All those who endured slavery are generations dead and
cannot, like the Nazi slave laborers, be compensated.
Does their exploitation, however, constitute something like
a historical IOU? Is their suffering heritable, like property
that can be passed down through generations?
...but one sees the point: they want a price put on the suffering
of slaves, and they want it paid. To them. And when their
grandchildren raise the issue of slavery and its relevance
to them, what will they be told? See your grandfather.
He cashed the check. The bill’s been paid.

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