Letter to the Editor of the New York Times: Acknowledging Our History
My family arrived in America long after the institution of slavery was abolished — and yet I am still sorry that it happened; not because I personally advocated or participated in slavery, but for two other reasons.
First, one can be sorry about the occurrence of a travesty, without necessarily assuming responsibility for it.
More important, as Americans we accept an unwritten social contract, in return for the privilege of being an American and the benefits it entails; we must also assume its collective history, good and bad.
Slavery was an institution perpetuated by the United States government, and therefore it is entirely appropriate for the government to apologize for its existence.