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Healing Wounds by Reopening Them


Front-page story in the Washington Post today about the movement in Waco, Texas, to ask a number of municipal and county officials to sign a resolution that “commemorates” a horrible 1916 lynching there of an apparently retarded, 17-year-old black youth who murdered a white woman. It reads, in part:

“Whereas by healing the wounds of our shameful legacy through acknowledgment and apology, Waco and McLennan County can end our documented history of silence.”
I really just do not get it. I do not understand why people who had nothing to do with a shameful act 90 years ago can or should apologize to people who have nothing in common with the victim but their skin color. And I do not understand, I really don’t, how this is supposed to advance rather than retard racial relations. Does any person, black or white, really think that there is any adult American today who does not (a) know about and (b) lament such lynchings? The article talks about “mak[ing] amends” and “confronting” and “legacies” and “reconciliation” and “‘reapprochement’” and “commemorat[ing]” and “‘eas[ing] long-standing tensions in the community connected to the lynching.’” This is all just gobbledygook.

I suppose there is a pro-reparations political agenda that underlies some of this, but I think the main motivations are less political than psychological. There is white guilt, of course, and–more tragically–there is the need among some African Americans to keep on the front-burner the nation’s racist past, since this somehow helps them explain existing socioeconomic disparities that have little to do with discrimination any more, and everything to do with cultural dysfunction.


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