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JasonF 01-17-07 07:28 PM

Virginia lawmaker angers blacks, Jews
 

Fury Over Delegate's Remarks on Slavery
Hargrove Was Criticizing Va. Apology Idea

By Amy Gardner
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 17, 2007; Page B01

RICHMOND, Jan. 16 -- A veteran Virginia lawmaker from suburban Richmond ignited a hot exchange in the House of Delegates on Tuesday after criticizing a proposal for the state to issue an apology for slavery and likening it to requiring Jews to apologize for "killing Christ."

Del. Frank D. Hargrove Sr., a Republican from Hanover County, told lawmakers that his comments were intended only to make the point that "not a soul in this legislature" had anything to do with slavery -- and that there is no point in dwelling on a chapter of U.S. history that all agree was repugnant.

"If we keep bringing this up, bringing this up -- I think this is a harmful idea just to keep recycling this thing which we all know and all despise and have no respect for," said Hargrove, a 25-year veteran of the House.

But Hargrove's remarks, first made in a newspaper interview on the holiday honoring civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., prompted a blistering censure from the 17-member Legislative Black Caucus. The Anti-Defamation League condemned Hargrove's comments about Jews.

His statements caused further consternation for Virginia Republicans, who are recovering from the defeat of U.S. Sen. George Allen last year and who are preparing for a tough election year in which all 140 General Assembly seats will come open.

Allen's defeat was attributed in part to his use of the word macaca -- a slur in some cultures -- to describe a young man of Indian descent. The one-term senator and former governor was accused of racial insensitivity, and his popularity plummeted -- notably in Northern Virginia, where affluent and well-educated newcomers are swaying the state's politics away from its more conservative, less racially tolerant past.

Hargrove's remarks don't help the GOP's image, said Del. Vincent F. Callahan Jr., a Fairfax County Republican and a 39-year House veteran whose district has been targeted by Democrats for the fall elections.

"People ought to have learned a lesson from this past year's senatorial campaign in Virginia," Callahan said. "We live in a different age as far as sensitivity goes and personal feelings. Particularly in a legislative body, where we operate in a goldfish bowl, we ought to be very careful about what we say in public."

The flap caused much greater outrage among Democrats and blacks in the legislature, who bristled at the timing of the remarks, not only on the King holiday but also at the start of a year during which Virginia is celebrating the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, where blacks were once sold as slaves.

"For 400 years, this commonwealth has not apologized, and I for one believe it is high time for that apology," said Del. A. Donald McEachin (D-Richmond), sponsor of the resolution, which would require the General Assembly to "atone for the involuntary servitude of Africans and call for reconciliation among all Virginians."

McEachin also rebuked Hargrove for making a theologically incorrect statement: that Jews killed Christ. "My faith teaches me that Christ died for the sins of all of mankind," he said.

Del. David L. Englin (D-Alexandria), who is Jewish, said that such comments give him reason to fear for his 7-year-old son's safety and self-esteem.

"As a young child, I dealt with verbal attacks and physical attacks from other children who believed that, as a Jew, I killed Christ," Englin said. "When people of the respect and stature of a member of this body perpetuate that notion, it troubles me."

Del. Dwight Clinton Jones (D-Richmond), chairman of the black caucus, scoffed at the idea that people should "get over" slavery "as if slavery was a birthday party that somebody had last Saturday night."

"If there are those who do not feel the need to apologize, I want to apologize," Jones continued. "I want to apologize to the mothers and fathers of my ancestors who were transported to this nation against their will in order that this nation might be built upon their backs. I want to apologize to the mothers and fathers of the civil rights generation who were hosed and bitten by dogs, and their children killed in churches as they burned, because of hatred that was put upon them. I want to apologize to them."

Hargrove, whose original remarks were reported in the Charlottesville Daily Progress, tried to make amends during a speech on the House floor. As fellow Republicans looked on warily -- notably House Majority Leader H. Morgan Griffith (R-Salem), who stood stiffly and silently at the back of the chamber -- Hargrove told Englin, his seatmate, that Englin's "skin was a little too thin."

"I didn't even know you were Jewish," said Hargrove, who turns 80 this month. "I don't care what your religion is. I really don't care."
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...011600995.html

You've got to love an old white guy who basically tells blacks to get over slavery -- on Martin Luther King's birthday -- and then tries to backpedal by saying "I'm not still mad at the Jews for being Christ-killers."

Red Dog 01-17-07 07:32 PM

Well Virginia is the state that only recently stopped celebrating MLK's birthday on the same day as Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee. What do you expect?

The idea of an apology is totally ridiculous though.

JasonF 01-17-07 07:40 PM


Originally Posted by Red Dog
The idea of an apology is totally ridiculous though.

Meh. It's an empty, meaningless gesture -- but the fact of the matter is, the government of Virginia was complicit in hundreds of years of slavery. Why are people like Hargrove so dead-set against acknowledging the fact that the Commonwealth of Virginia did some bad things to blacks? Or doesn't he think the proper response is an apology when you've done something bad that you now regret?

Frouhaha 01-17-07 07:54 PM


Originally Posted by JasonF
Meh. It's an empty, meaningless gesture -- but the fact of the matter is, the government of Virginia was complicit in hundreds of years of slavery. Why are people like Hargrove so dead-set against acknowledging the fact that the Commonwealth of Virginia did some bad things to blacks? Or doesn't he think the proper response is an apology when you've done something bad that you now regret?

"The Commonwealth of Virginia" is not a concious, living entity. It has no regrets. Actual, physical people were responsible for slavery, none of which is still alive today in order to give an apology.

Jimmy James 01-17-07 07:58 PM

The outrage over slavery is misplaced. I think it has become, at the consent of both sides of the debate, a shorthand for what the real issue is -- the civil rights abuses that were set off in the wake of the reconstruction. Plenty of real living people were responsible for those things, and plenty of real living people were harmed by them. You can't just point your finger at the South when we're talking about those absuses, though.

bwvanh114 01-17-07 07:58 PM


Originally Posted by JasonF
Or doesn't he think the proper response is an apology when you've done something bad that you now regret?

What is it that he did (to blacks) that he now regrets?

Red Dog 01-17-07 08:13 PM

I think this should be a ballot initiative. If you feel guilty as an Virginian and want to apologize for slavery, check yes. If not, check no, you racist.

al_bundy 01-17-07 08:31 PM


Originally Posted by JasonF
Meh. It's an empty, meaningless gesture -- but the fact of the matter is, the government of Virginia was complicit in hundreds of years of slavery. Why are people like Hargrove so dead-set against acknowledging the fact that the Commonwealth of Virginia did some bad things to blacks? Or doesn't he think the proper response is an apology when you've done something bad that you now regret?


no one alive today had anything to do with slavery and it should be a non-issue since it was outlawed so many years ago. a lot more ethnic groups other than african americans were treated badly by europeans in the US a long time ago

mikehunt 01-17-07 09:28 PM

should they also appologize for the blacks that owned other blacks as slaves?

bhk 01-17-07 09:46 PM


Originally Posted by al_bundy
no one alive today had anything to do with slavery and it should be a non-issue since it was outlawed so many years ago. a lot more ethnic groups other than african americans were treated badly by europeans in the US a long time ago

It isn't legal here. In Africa and the Mid East, there still are slaves.

People, though, don't seem to be niggardly in their criticism of the guy(not in this forum).

Jason 01-17-07 09:53 PM


Originally Posted by mikehunt
should they also appologize for the blacks that owned other blacks as slaves?

No, the incredibly inconsequential number of blacks who owned slaves are responsible for that.

bhk 01-17-07 10:00 PM

How about the other blacks in Africa who sold their ancestors to the slave traders. Should they apologize too?

Duran 01-17-07 10:23 PM


Originally Posted by JasonF
Meh. It's an empty, meaningless gesture -- but the fact of the matter is, the government of Virginia was complicit in hundreds of years of slavery. Why are people like Hargrove so dead-set against acknowledging the fact that the Commonwealth of Virginia did some bad things to blacks? Or doesn't he think the proper response is an apology when you've done something bad that you now regret?

He didn't do something bad, at least with regards to slavery. And in all likelihood, his ancestors didn't own slaves in Virginia. Should I be expected to apologize because my Italian ancestors conquered, oppressed, and enslaved most of the Western world?

al_bundy 01-17-07 10:28 PM


Originally Posted by Duran
He didn't do something bad, at least with regards to slavery. And in all likelihood, his ancestors didn't own slaves in Virginia. Should I be expected to apologize because my Italian ancestors conquered, oppressed, and enslaved most of the Western world?


one guy crossing the ocean hundreds of years after the vikings doesn't count

Numanoid 01-17-07 10:30 PM

You guys are right. Arguing against such an apology is obviously a very savvy political move. :lol:

Duran 01-17-07 10:32 PM


Originally Posted by al_bundy
one guy crossing the ocean hundreds of years after the vikings doesn't count

I was referring to the Roman Empire, not Columbus. :)

JasonF 01-17-07 10:38 PM


Originally Posted by Duran
He didn't do something bad, at least with regards to slavery.

He didn't, but the Commonwealth of Virginia did, and the Commonwealth of Virginia acts through its elected representatives.

Legislatures pass resolutions all the time expressing sorrow, expressing thanksgiving, expressing gratitude. Why is everyone so defensive that there's a group who would like their legislature to express regret over the actions taken by the Commonwealth toward their ancestors? I mean, did you all get up in arms when Congress passed a resolution mourning President Ford?

Ky-Fi 01-17-07 10:40 PM

Although I think the US did in fact apologize for slavery with the blood spilled during the Civil War, I don't have any problem with a state government apologizing for their role in slavery. I don't see how that costs anyone anything. The state did have a role in it, it was wrong, and we understand that. I don't really see the downside of saying so.

But I want to get to the "Jews killed Christ" statement. This really irks me. Ok, the Jews had a role in the death of Christ....and the Jews had a role in defending Christ, and all the disciples were Jews, and Jews gave BIRTH to Jesus, and JESUS was a Jew, and all of them fully considered themselves Jews their whole life. It was a Jewish story. I believe the split from Judaism into Christianity didn't occur for quite some time after Jesus' death. It's a human story, and Jews played almost ALL the important roles. As a Christian, I say that if you read the Gospels, and the main spiritual truth you get out of them is that "Jews killed Jesus", then please just leave and pick another religion.....

grundle 01-17-07 10:51 PM

I'm Jewish and I'm not offended.

Red Dog 01-17-07 11:42 PM


Originally Posted by JasonF
He didn't, but the Commonwealth of Virginia did, and the Commonwealth of Virginia acts through its elected representatives.

Legislatures pass resolutions all the time expressing sorrow, expressing thanksgiving, expressing gratitude. Why is everyone so defensive that there's a group who would like their legislature to express regret over the actions taken by the Commonwealth toward their ancestors? I mean, did you all get up in arms when Congress passed a resolution mourning President Ford?


The wrong committed was committed by elected representatives long since dead, and the current government has in no way shape or form has continued this wrong for well over a century.

I couldn't care less that there is a group that wants this. There are all kinds of wacko groups asking for stuff. I just think what they are asking for is incredibly stupid for the government to act upon since this government is so far removed from what that government did and the victims are long since dead.

But since you have brought it up, can I ask...what does this group get out of an apology? Please help me figure this out. Are they actually going to feel better with some, as you said empty, meaningless gesture? I just can't see it. If there were former slaves alive today - okay I could see that, but they are long since dead. Is this some way to bolster the reparations argument - get the government to apologize (which means it admits it wronged people)?

Nazgul 01-17-07 11:48 PM


Originally Posted by Duran
Should I be expected to apologize because my Italian ancestors conquered, oppressed, and enslaved most of the Western world?

You should at least feel very guilty about it. :)

Ranger 01-18-07 12:08 AM

Slavery is an evil institution and this country had its ugly part in it. I think it's true that some try to ignore that because they either hate blacks or can't face their country's history not being wholesome as they would like to think.

Technically, the Romans killed Jesus, but the Jews did want him killed. While some Jewish groups might be overly sensitive to a description like that, anti-Semites do often rant about Jews killing Jesus.

I don't think it's a big deal to apologize. It doesn't mean reparations have to be paid.

Giantrobo 01-18-07 12:34 AM


Originally Posted by grundle
I'm Jewish and I'm not offended.

I'm <i>not</i> Jewish and I'm not offended either.

It's a "Meh, who cares". Blacks have REAL problems that need actions. Some limpdick halfass apology for slavery doesn't really help anyone in any concrete ways. Besides, the kind of black people who wants this kind of asskissing gesture are the same ones who'll just find another reason to hate whitey. The Jesses, Al's, Maxine Waters', and others will NEVER EVER move forward because their agendas/Job security is stuck in the 1960's.

kvrdave 01-18-07 12:50 AM

It isn't what he said or meant, it is what others think he may have meant that really matters in this day and age. The fact that he is a Republican doesn't help, either.

The Bus 01-18-07 08:57 AM


Originally Posted by Giantrobo
The Jesses, Al's, Maxine Waters', and others will NEVER EVER move forward because their agendas/Job security is stuck in the 1960's.

:up:


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