As I wrote earlier this month, under the leadership of Rep. Cohen (D-Tennessee), an apology for slavery and Jim Crow is currently making its way through Congress. Now on the state level, in a bid for “reconciliation and healing,” Florida has issued a landmark apology for its role in American slavery. Since just last year, five other states have passed similar resolutions, including New Jersey, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia and Alabama.
In case you missed it, there was a stellar moment in a related House hearing last December, in which Cohen deftly interrogated a witness who criticized the notion of a US apology. To me, this particular exchange got to the heart of the matter:
COHEN: The United States permitted slavery, made it legal….For a hundred years thereafter [we] made people unequal citizens. For 100 years we perpetrated, perpetuated that racism and that badge of slavey! It was a second-class slavery system!WITNESS: Now when you say we….COHEN: We’re a country.WITNESS: Well, I don’t look at it that way.
In other words: the United States is proud to accept full credit for its virtues as a country, but none of the collective responsibility for its sins.
Watch the clip here: