Thursday, March 26, 2009

Still Embarrassed By My Fellow Tennesseeans

I honestly don’t understand what is wrong with Rep. Brenda Gilmore's resolution expressing regret for slavery and segregation in Tennessee. Dumbass Republicans, on the other hand, do.

Here’s the meat of the resolution:
BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE ONE HUNDRED SIXTH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE, THE SENATE CONCURRING, that the General Assembly acknowledges with profound regret the fundamental injustice, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery and the discrimination that was slavery's legacy.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this body expresses our deepest sympathies and solemn apology for the official acts that sanctioned and perpetuated the denial of basic human rights and dignity to fellow human beings.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we encourage all Tennesseans to reflect upon the shameful past that was slavery, so that such human tragedies will neither be forgotten nor repeated.

Rep. Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga made a point of casting the sole “no” vote moving this resolution out of subcommittee:

McCormick: I voted no because it's something that happened 160 years ago. I wasn't alive when we had slavery so I didn't feel like I should apologize on behalf of the people of Tennessee. I do regret that it happened. It was a horrible, horrible thing. But I didn't have anything to do with it, so that's why I voted against it.

Q: Do you anticipate other lawmakers having the same reservations?

McCormick: Sure, I think so. In no way do I think it was right that we did that thing, I say we, but our ancestors did that thing. I don't know that mine in particular did. So it's kinda hard for me to apologize on behalf of people who have been dead for 100 years.

Wow, what a cornucopia of stupid. You’re not “apologizing on behalf” of people who lived 100 years ago. You’re apologizing on behalf of yourself, alive today, in 2009.

McCormick says, “In no way do I think it was right that we did that thing.” So, you know, if you’re in agreement that slavery was a bad thing, then what’s the problem?

Furthermore, the resolution doesn’t apologize just for slavery but also for racial segregation. That is certainly a modern phenomenon. I remember that, and we’re still living with the effects of that.

We always hear the “I wasn’t alive then/my ancestors didn’t own slaves/my people were still in Germany then/yada yada” excuse from wingnuts when issues like apologizing for slavery comes up. That attitude just proves exactly why we need a resolution of this kind. Can you understand: it’s not about you, it’s about we.

Here’s a news flash: this country was built on the backs of cheap labor, and that includes slavery. It’s how we developed our economy. It’s how we became who we are. If you’re living in America in 2009 then you are reaping the rewards of slavery. That’s just American history. Acknowledging that debt, professing regret and apologizing for it and the abuses that were a result of that system, makes sense.

We live our history every day, people. What happened before laid the groundwork for where we are now.

Meanwhile, go vote in WSMV’s online poll (scroll to the bottom of the page). Last time I checked, 84% agreed with the racists. How embarrassing.