Apology Lite

Earlier this week, the Connecticut Law Review CONNtemplations published my short article, Apology Lite: Truths, Doubts, and Reconciliations in the Senate’s Guarded Apology for Slavery. The article’s abstract is:

The United States Senate recently offered an apology for slavery, which contained an unusual disclaimer prohibiting its use in any claim for monetary reparations. This Essay examines the legal and moral effects of that apology. It analyzes the role of apology within the slavery reparations debate generally as well as the question of whether a stand-alone apology can be a valid form of reparations. It then examines the moral and symbolic effects of the Senate disclaimer, and offers suggestions for bolstering the apology and furthering the restorative justice goals of reparations.

If you’re interested in the topic, please take a moment to read the article; it’s not particularly long. If you’ve read the piece, I’m curious as to your thoughts about the Senate’s guarded apology. How serious are the concerns set out in Apology Lite? Can a lite apology be effective? Is it better than no apology? And, what do you think about my suggestions for bolstering the Senate apology?

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1 Response

  1. I can’t much top Walter Williams’ reaction (to which you gave only footnote inclusion) but…

    I had to laugh at the Senate disclaimer. It reads a natural and rational reaction to our current legal mindset. Is it too hard to foresee that somewhere within the vast morass of law school clinics would be a group of eager profs and students perusing such a document and wondering if they could somehow make a name (and a buck) off of it (ed. note: for the noblest of reasons, of course).

    Mr. Williams was right in describing the apology as “political theater”. Many Americans can correctly feel that as awful as slavery was (and is – even though it is no longer a European-descent practice), a broad sweeping apology is not called for. In particular, there are those families who can point to ancestors who lost their lives in the Civil War so steadfastly fought under the leadership of our first Republican Administration.

    The Apology was issued by an overwhelmingly Democratic Senate still in the throes of its Obama crush. You want to question its sincerity, I have no reason to try and talk you out of it. I’m questioning just about everything this Reid-led Senate does.