By Alan Caruba
The front page of the Star-Ledger, New Jersey’s largest circulation daily, had a story on January 8, “Jewish Cemetery Vandalized.” In its New Jersey news section inside the paper, among the “Action in Trenton” roundup, was a short item, “Apology for slavery sails through legislature.”
I wonder if there will be an apology for the damage done to the graves of dead Jews? Not likely. Perhaps it was just some teenage vandals or perhaps it was some kind of Islamofascist message being sent?
Germany has made significant efforts to apologize for the Holocaust, but anyone who lives there will tell you that considerable anti-Semitism exists among the generations born well after that event. In many Middle East nations, the Holocaust—the deliberate murder of some six million Jews—continues to be denied.
In the United Nations, there’s a resolution condemning acts of hatred against religions, but the only one specifically named is Islam. Condemning Islam as the source of the atrocities that have been occurring in recent decades is apparently a bad thing.
These thoughts, however, are not about anti-Semitism. They are about the efficacy of apologies. This is particularly true of apologies for events in which the current residents of New Jersey or any other State did not participate. In short, why bother? What good does it do?
Slavery had been part of America’s history almost from the beginning. It was widespread throughout the world and was (and is) a mark of man’s inhumanity to man. The Founding Fathers found the issue of slavery so intractable they concluded that it should be ignored while fashioning the world’s oldest living Constitution.
A century later the northern and southern states fought a war in which slavery was the moral cause, but other issues such as state’s rights and tensions over economic issues were the driving forces. In 1800, there were 12,422 slaves in New Jersey. The 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments clarified issues of citizenship and rights of former slaves after the Civil War. This was then followed by a hundred years of segregation and the denial of those rights until, in the 1960s, these wrongs were laid to rest.
All of which is to say that history often is a very long and frequently painful journey to achieve a moral and legal resolution to societal wrongs. Today, a mulatto with an Islamic name is running for President. The U.S. Secretary of State is Black. Her predecessor was Black. There’s a national holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who led the struggle for racial equality. Some people would call that progress.
Some people, however, have to demand apologies. Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, and Maryland have issued apologies. There are similar bills pending in Massachusetts, New York, and Arkansas.
I cited the desecration of the Jewish cemetery to remind us that hate never really goes away. There will always be people who hate Jews. There will always be people who hate Blacks. Official apologies for past wrong will not change this. They are vacant gestures and, in my opinion, an affront to those who did not participate in, nor condone, past wrongs.