The good people of Virginia voted last Wednesday to apologize for slavery. The Virginia House Rules Committee unanimously passed a measure expressing “profound regret” for the state’s slave trade and other injustices against African Americans and Native Americans. I think that is great. No, honestly, I do. Notwithstanding the fact that it is cheaper to apologize than it is to pay back wages for hundreds of years of slave labor, and that it is easier to apologize than it is to actually end racism, I was still touched by the gesture. In fact I was so moved that I wrote to the Egyptian President asking that he consider passing a measure apologizing to the Jews for centuries of Egyptian slavery. Here is part of the letter I received in return:
“While your suggestion is an intriguing one, I feel such a letter to your people would only be possible after the Jews first issued an apology to the Egyptian people for working with Pharaoh to strip the Egyptian peasants of their land and livelihood perhaps even forcing them leave their land and migrate to the cities as slaves in the time of your ancestor Joseph (Please see your Bible, Genesis 47:13-21).”
I wrote a similar letter to the King of Saudi Arabia asking that he issue an apology to the Jews for the Muslim role in fostering anti-Semitism, and received this in response:
“In the Name of Allah the All Merciful, your idea is ridiculous. But if such an apology were to come it would only be given after your people apologize to my people for your mother Sarah’s brutal treatment of our mother Hagar and her son Ishmael, peace be upon them. It was her inhumanity that started the feud between our peoples. She is your mother. Do something.”
As these letters are coming in, I learn that not everyone in Virginia is happy with the apology that was issued there. Virginia Delegate Frank Hargrove Sr., who, I was shocked to learn, is a white Republican, opposed the measure saying that blacks “should get over” slavery. He followed that up with (and I kid you not), “Are we going to force the Jews to apologize for killing Christ?”
Whoa! We did work with Pharaoh to destroy the Egyptian people, and we did send Hagar and Ishmael out to die in the desert, so on behalf of my people: I am sorry. Sorry, ashamed, embarrassed, and outraged at my ancestors and at my contemporaries who read these things year in and year out without being sorry, ashamed, embarrassed or outraged themselves. But the no more killed Jesus than the planes killed the Beast. It was the Romans in the first case and beauty in the second.
Yes there were Jews, especially the ruling class bought and paid for by the Romans who collaborated in his arrest, and were not sad to see him go (though very unhappy when he came back three days later), but neither they nor we killed him. Even pre-rehab Mel Gibson admitted that. So get it through you thick, white, Republican head Delegate Hargrove: chances are better that your ancestors killed Christ than mine.