Friday, January 19, 2007

Open Mouth, Insert Foot, Look Like ASS

Stupidity has reared its ugly head again here in Virginia. What should have gone through the House very easily as a symbolic act to improve race relations has ended as one more lesson in the enduring nature of racial insensitivity. Not only did Delegate Frank D. Hargrove(R) insist that black people should just "get over it," ("it" being slavery) he also asked whether we were now going to ask the Jews to apologize for "killing Christ." Both African-American and Jewish leaders are asking that the House officially censure Hargrove for his remarks. Hargrove continues to publicly stand by his remarks and to refuse to apologize for them.

I agree that Hargrove should be censured. However, having just watched a brilliant documentary called "The Protocols of Zion" and having studied the historical, archaeological and theological perspectives on first century Judea (as first a Christian then as a Jew), I've got a bit of an irreverent question myself. Despite the well-known historical and theological inaccuracy of the "Jews killed Christ" claim, it continues (to this day) to breed contempt and hatred for Jews. Why is it that, in keeping with the historically and theologically accurate interpretation of events, there no "The Italians killed Christ." phenomena? After all, the Italians are the direct descendants of the progenitors and rulers of the Roman Empire. Now, honestly, I don't believe any people should be held responsible for an execution that occurred 2,000 years ago. But, it does raise questions...

Back to Hargrove. Hargrove's only point is that no one living today is responsible for slavery and no African-American alive today was a slave. Given. But the apology isn't about an actual admission of guilt for crimes committed. It's an acknowledgment that we are willing to face the darkness of our past, learn its lessons, and struggle together for a better future. It's SYMBOLIC! I'm all for it.

Of course, we can't end with slavery. There are a lot of crimes in our past that will need resolving if we're going to heal the many wounds that scar our nation even today. Of course, we might also want to actually do something about current situations created by past crimes. (Reservations jump to mind for some reason.) The last thing we need is for some doddering old fool of a state legislator to go off half-cocked telling people to get over it and bringing up libelous "blood guilt" nonsense.

Hargrove: Get your head out of your ass. Face the 21st century. And apologize for all of our sakes.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey... the Romans were just following the will of the people, who were Locals, (mostly jewish locals I might add) not italians. If I'm remebering correctly, Pilate really wanted to let Jesus off the hook...

Of course, maybe my fragile little mind has simply been brainwashed by "The Passion of the Christ" ;)

3:41 PM  
Blogger Melinda Barton said...

You've been brainwashed. The real Pontias Pilate would have had NO problem executing a rambling rabbi who walked into the middle of town during Passover and started trouble(especially considering he had already warned the Jews of what would happen if the prior year's rioting were repeated). In fact, he had no problem executing 26,000 Jews according to historian's estimates. Pilate was actually recalled to Rome because he was far too brutal, which is saying A LOT in those days. Anywho, pretty well known that Jesus was executed by these Roman cats who just weren't cool at all when it came to a bunch of freedom-lovin', "stop killing and raping your way through our homeland" hippy Jews. Much of the rest of the stuff was added later. I SO wish I could go back in time and kick Matthew's Hellenized ass!

4:59 PM  
Anonymous dan from said...

Hargrove apologizing would probably cause more harm than telling people to "get over it".

In the first case, blacks might be reassured that they somehow have a case to keep whites (including irish, germans, and italians, which had nothing to do with american slavery) constantly apoligizing and otherwise making amends (as we have been, uneccessarily in my opinion).

In the second case, a few might be momentarily upset with hargrove, but at least blacks would then be faced with the reality that they are starting to lose white allies in their cause to put whites down and maybe they will stop.

note: I have seen a general movement among the black community to put whites down. Some of you reading this might not have seen such a movement, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist, and it doesn't mean I'm speaking in hyperbole.

Considering the costs and benefits of each scenario (aplogy or "get over it"), the second seems better. Of course, not being omniscient, I may be unaware of some additional costs and benefits that might change my opinion. If anybody wants to correct me, go ahead.

12:44 PM  
Blogger Melinda Barton said...

Although I see where some would have a problem with apologizing for a practice that ended more than 140 years ago, I think Hargrove could have AT LEAST made that point without sounding like a racist.

Personally, I think the apology thing is just a symbolic act that says we acknowledge the darkness of our history--something we have patently refused to do for a long time. Only recently has slavery and its toll on our society been adequately covered in history textbooks. Don't even get me started on the rather ignorant, head in the sand rhetoric that passes for Native American history in today's public schools.

Part of the difficulty of our "getting over" the events of the past is that it has never been fully acknowledged so "getting over it" seems like giving in to those who want to pretend like American history is one long fairy tale of peace and love, liberty and justice for all, Amen. It also prevents us from fully understanding the roots of modern problems and thus, perhaps, their solutions.

An apology may be simply symbolic but it provides a strong first step towards racial reconciliation in this country. It also gives us a great starting point for tackling the modern problems that flow from slavery through segregation to the depredations of the modern inner city. Or from European invasion through genocide through reservations as "concentration camp" to the pseudo-sovereignty that keeps Native Americans in a state of penury and second-class citizenship even today.

4:29 PM  

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