Sunday, July 3, 2016

258 candles-days 127-29

On this, the day after Elie Wiesel's death, this is an important quote to meditate on. Because while he wrote it concerning fascism and the death of Jews and others in Germany, it can also be justly said by those of us who believe that the arguments for apologies to be made on behalf of white people to others--notably black and brown people, red people, even other white people in some instances--are correct and that the apologies must be made. (Even those of us, like me, who believe that reparations are also necessary.) Because it is not that the children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren of slave owners, or drafters of Indian reservations or hangers of "No Mexicans" or "No Jews" or any number of other signs against someone else, are guilty of the transgressions of our parents. In all, there were relatively few of them (for instance, in the 1860 census of the 31M people in the US, only 394,000, a little over 1%, were slaveholders); however, that small number, due to public agreement with their values, had an incredible influence over laws and behavior. As a result, we are the beneficiaries of their values, just as if they had left us money or land. Because we benefit from their behavior, we are responsible for correcting the inequities of their behavior, just as we would be if they owed taxes on that money or land. We were not tax scofflaws or slave owners, but we received the gains, and we have to make their errors right.

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