So, the U.S. Senate just made an official apology for slavery. How can we not lose great amounts of respect for a group of people (that’s us, by the way) who drag their feet so badly in regard to such an issue? How are we not all ashamed? Maybe I’m blowing this out of proportion and it’s just that official apologies and things like that aren’t really that big of a deal, but this is troubling to me and it reminds me of some other things that I’ve come across recently.
This apology came 146 years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. Haven’t we known that slavery was horrifically wrong for a long, long time? Other similar statements have also taken far too long to come. Here are two examples:
The Southern Baptist Convention split from the rest of the Baptists in 1845, essentially over the issue of slavery. Then, 150 years later, the SBC issued a Resolution on Racial Reconciliation. Didn’t they know a few years before 1995 that the impetus for their split from the other Baptists was profoundly wrong?
The church that bears the name of Martin Luther has a similar issue. The Lutheran’s namesake was one of history’s most virulent anti-Semites. Yet, it took the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America until 49 years after the Holocaust (and around 450 years after Luther’s work) to denounce Luther’s anti-Semitism and separate themselves from it officially. The European Lutheran Commission made a statement as late as 2004 regarding issues of anti-Semitism and noted that, although past declarations have urged member churches to re-evaluate and re-consider the teachings of Luther, not all had shared in their commitment and that it was still “an acute problem.” What? How is this sort of thing possible? Such racism seems to have been renounced by society widely long before 1994.
This is all troubling to me. There is no way that such things are limited to the Southern Baptist or Lutherans either. Neither are these things limited to Americans and Christians. What is that causes such a phenomenon? Is this just evidence of the power of cognitive dissonance and our inability to address fault in ourselves? Maybe we need to have the atrocities we commit pressed more forcefully and consistently under our noses so we can’t help but smell their stench.
It seems to me that the US Senate not officially apologizing for slavery for nearly 150 years has given license to those who would suggest that it never was wrong. The same goes for the other two examples, and any others like them. How could we have given anyone the opportunity to teach kids that “not even our Federal government has come out to apologize for slavery, so it couldn’t have been all that bad?”
What other things like this are there or have there been out there? If you know of any, please list them here, so that at least a few more people can be made aware of our collective shortcomings.