Gorman Beauchamp: The impulse to apologize for past crimes of history has gotten out of hand

Historians in the News

Contemporary society, says Gorman Beauchamp, an associate professor of the humanities at the University of Michigan, has a guilty conscience. "Our postmodern ethos," he writes, "seems to hold that if anything can be proved to have happened, then surely someone needs to apologize for it."

According to Mr. Beauchamp, "we live amid a veritable tsunami of apology." In 2005, for instance, the U.S. Senate issued a formal apology for having never made lynching a federal crime. Tony Blair apologized to the Irish for Britain's insensitivity to the famine victims of the 1840s, and the French Parliament issued a law stating that the slave trade in France after the 15th century was in fact illegal. "The centuries of slavery before the 15th and the slavery of other peoples do not, apparently, constitute such a crime, at least in France," Mr. Beauchamp writes.
Read entire article at Chronicle of Higher Education (CHE)

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David Gwilliam - 10/6/2007

Obviously French slavery was immoral but what were the grounds for deciding it was illegal. Was there any actual law that it broke?