Thursday, June 02, 2005

Apologies for slavery

Wachovia Corporation issued an apology for past connections to slavery. The bank issued a long report detailing prior practices of two southern banks that were later acquired by Wachovia in order to comply with a Chicago ordinance requiring disclosure of profits from or policies relating to slavery for any company doing business with slavery (CNN Story).

I find it completely asinine that a company is being held up to blame for 19th century slave ownership in the 21st century. Not a single soul working for the corporation has ever owned a slave or had any dealings with corporate slaves. It's unlikely that any of their parents or even grandparents ever did. The crime of slavery is over and done with. We shouldn't forget our country's history, good and bad, but we should let go of the animus and blame game. Individuals and institutions should be judged by their current practices and how they have addressed and remedied sins of those involved now. Very few human institutions can claim a spotless record, especially when hundreds of years of history are being judged.

It's very likely that ordinances of this kind (Chicago isn't the only city to have them) are designed to provide evidence for future slave reparations claims. Another wrongheaded idea - looking to solve the problems of the present by redistributing wealth based on the sins of the long dead. But that's a post for another time.

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