Guilt. Reparations. Getting even. Compensating.

Thomas Sowell in “Black Rednecks and White Liberals” (page 289) has the best and clearest (but I repeat myself) statement on the issue:

While the lessons of history can be valuable, the twisting of history and the mining of the past for grievances can tear a society apart.  Past grievances, real or imaginary, are equally irremediable in the present, for nothing that is done among living contemporaries can change in the slightest the sins and the sufferings of generations who took those sins and sufferings to the grave with them in centuries past.  Galling as it may be to be helpless to redress the crying injustices of the past, symbolic expiation in the present can only create new injustices among the living and new problems for the future, when newborn babies enter the world with pre-packaged grievances against other babies born the same day.  Both have their futures jeopardized, not only by their internal strife but also by the increased vulnerability of a disunited society to external dangers from other nations and from international terrorist networks.

To be relevant to our times, history must not be controlled by our times.  Its integrity as a record of the past is what allows us to draw lessons from it.

 

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