Friday, January 18, 2013

Slavery 'remorse' resolution pushed by right-wing Georgia senator

Posted By on Fri, Jan 18, 2013 at 1:23 PM

Sen. Barry Loudermilk reads the bible on the Senate floor
  • Joeff Davis
  • Sen. Barry Loudermilk reads the bible on the Senate floor
While Lincoln continues to rack up awards season trophies, the 150th anniversary look-back at the Emancipation Proclamation seems to be impacting modern-day politics as well.

Yesterday, North Georgia Republican and state Sen. Barry Loudermilk introduced a resolution that, if passed, would express "regret and remorse" for Georgia's role in condoning the institution of slavery. The Freedom Resolution would not offer a full-fledged apology.

Here's a quote taken from Loudermilk's press announcement:

"The filing of today's Freedom Resolution represents an important first step for our state, in recognizing the reprehensible act of slavery, and to bring reconciliation among the people of this great state."

With a legislative record that prompted the AJC's Jim Galloway to call him "one of the most conservative members in the General Assembly," Loudermilk's slavery remorse resolution also calls his political motive into question.

When asked after Thursday's press conference whether he has any interest in running for the U.S. Senate in 2014, Galloway reports today that the state senator told him, "I have never considered that. It's hard for me to predict what's going to happen, but that is not in any goal that I have."

Perhaps it's just a severe case of white man's guilt brought on by back-to-back viewings of Lincoln and Django Unchained, both of which have fueled something of an ongoing national discourse on race.

This is not the first time, however, that a state legislator has pushed for such a resolution in Georgia. Former Senate President Pro Tem Eric Johnson, a white Republican representing Savannah, sponsored such legislation in 2007 and 2009, according to the AJC. Rep. Al Williams, a Democrat and former head of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus, attempted to pass similar resolutions in 2007 and 2010. Neither attempt garnered significant support, but Rep. Williams was also requesting a full apology, unlike Loudermilk's Freedom Resolution.

The difference may seem subtle - like saying "my bad" instead of "I'm sorry" - but it's possible that full-fledged apologies are shunned out of fear that calls for financial reparations would soon follow. When the U.S. Senate unanimously approved legislation apologizing for slavery in 2009, it took care to add that the the resolution could not be used in support of claims for restitution, according to the Washington Post.

Whatever the matter of distinction, it was lost on Rep. Williams, as he told the Savannah Morning News in 2007: "I have a lot of difficulty with the splitting of hairs," he said. "What's the real difference? It's just a matter of a choice of words."

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