Skip to comments.Cohen's slavery apology fuels global stir, local consternation
Posted on 07/31/2008 5:04:16 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
WASHINGTON -- The congressional apology for slavery, passed Tuesday, made headlines across the country and generated calls to U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen's office from newspapers and radio news outlets around the world.
But in Memphis, the message was mixed, measured by more than 200 comments posted on The Commercial Appeal's Web site. Some called the measure, which Cohen introduced in the House in February 2007, an effort to pander to black voters less than 10 days before next week's Democratic primary.
One of Cohen's opponents, airline lawyer Nikki Tinker, while agreeing with the resolution in principle, found the timing of the House debate and vote suspicious.
"An apology is long overdue for the atrocities of slavery, but it is pure politics and symbolism without a plan that addresses the many people who continue to live without a proper education, health care and economic stability," Tinker said.
"I find it very interesting that Mr. Cohen would call for a national apology during a heated election when he clearly needs African-American votes. For over 20 years while serving in the Tennessee General Assembly, he never thought to ask the State of Tennessee for an apology, not once."
Cohen, D-Memphis, pointed out that the first state apology came in 2007 and said Congress was the proper national forum.
As for the timing, he said he has been working 17 months to bring it to the floor. He said he considered postponing it until after the election so that it wouldn't distract from the "momentousness" of the occasion, but he was urged by staffers to "strike while the iron is hot."
Cohen also explained how efforts for a companion Senate bill slowly fizzled even after Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, agreed to sponsor the measure. He said Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, would support it, but only if it stated specifically that it was not calling for reparations for the descendants of slaves.
Cohen said the White House and Department of Justice objected to proposed Senate language that would have called American slavery a "crime against humanity," which might have prompted lawsuits for damages in the International Court of Justice at The Hague in the Netherlands.
Cohen said House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., made the decision on the timing of the vote, postponing it from July 22 so that he could be present.
Cohen had interviews Wednesday with news organizations in Britain and South Africa and with Haaretz, a newspaper in Israel.
In addition, he was interviewed by CBS, CNN, The Hill, Sirius Satellite Radio, The Associated Press, Fox News, Congressional Quarterly, Voice of America and Politico.
The story was the lead item in The Daily Voice, an online newspaper that bills itself as "Black America's Daily News Source."
"I don't know if it's politically positive or negative," Cohen said. "I just know it was the right thing to do."
Moscow: "House of Representatives issues apology to black Americans for slavery" -- Pravda
Paris: "U.S. lawmakers apologize for slavery" -- Agence France Presse
The United Arab Emirates: "Apology for slavery hailed as milestone" -- The National
New Delhi: "U.S. apologizes for slavery" -- The Times of India
London: "U.S. House of Representatives set to apologise to black Americans" -- The Guardian
Ditto’s for Stevie!
I no longer am in his district, but we still have to put up with the fool.
When are the coastal africans going to apologize to the interior africans for capturing them and selling them to slave traders? when are any of them going to thank us for ending the slave trade and slavery
Democrats are a mess, just a mess.
"I am sorry that someone I never knew, did something bad to someone you never knew and then did not pay that person for work he/she may or may not have done."
Slavery was wrong. I didn't have anything to do with it.
All of this pathetic useless, yes useless rhetoric when gas prices remain as high as ever, and these pathetic idiots won’t even allow a vote to come to the floor to help the MAJORITY of WORKING Americans with their problems. Light the fuse, blow it up, start from scratch. That should be the new motto!!
Why should any Republican apologize for slavery? Our party was founded explicitly to abolish it. And our first Republican President accomplished that end via the bloodiest war in our history.
Let the Democrats apologize. They’re the party of slavery, secession and Jim Crow.
Well it is obvious that Mr. Cohen has never been to Shiloh. Living in Tennessee that seems rather odd. He seems to have no since of history since the debt for slavery was paid at Shiloh, Gettysburg and Ford’s Theatre.
This is the price we are no paying for the Oprahfication of the American culture and lack of American history being taught in our schools.
I guess the slaves formed a union and abolished slavery all on their own, at least thats what one would think reading all this BS about apologies. I think the black community owes people like me, people whose ancestor fought to free them from slavery and died by the thousands to accomplish that end. I think I should at least get a thank you from black Americans for my ancestors freeing them from the democratic party of slavery, but of course I won’t get it. I owe no reparations, I owe no one an apology, I have never owned slaves and I have never endorsed Jim Crow laws. So F*** you and the horse you rode in on black community.
Even if I agreed with the idea of apologizing for slavery, why would I bother if this would be the response to it? Maybe that was because no dollar signs were attached to the legislation?
The famous Vietnam Air Ace.. NOT
Not to mention the THREE TRILLION dollars spent so far in the "war on poverty" which went disproportionately to Americans of African extraction. BTW, since "president-elect" Obama is not the descendant of slaves (but possibly of slave traders & slave owners)does he get a check? Oh, and since EVERYONE on the planet is originally from Africa (according to the scientists) do we all get a check?
He should apologize to the Republican Party too. We had to get up an army to fight the Democrats before they would free the slaves!
He should be ashamed of himself.
Amen. I am truly thankful that slavery was abolished. I just wish that the Democratic Party had been abolished, too.
I’m still waiting for the Democrat party to apologize. For some reason they never get around to it and no one ever calls them on it.