Recognizing the hollowness of such "apologies," Georgia House Speaker Glenn Richardson said, "Nobody here was in office when slavery was practiced." He is right: Apologies on behalf of others are empty and do nothing more than promote one's estimation of one's self.But that is precisely why liberals—who are most likely to mock the notion of personal sin—demand such an apology: The blame is cast on one's forebears and the price is paid by others.
Nor do the liberal elite enact legislation that affects them adversely. It is the elite white liberals who agitate for affirmative action—the collective amends and the implicit apology going on for decades now. It's easy for them. The elite do not stand in line before the factory door. They are not a number in a stack of applications in college admissions and financial aid offices. "Give them affirmative action!" they cry generously, while they use their family’s connections and earning power to get into the best schools and companies.
The same impulse motivated the well-heeled radicals in the 1960s, who blamed the injustices around them on others.
One need only look at the Port Huron Statement, written in 1962 by a twenty-one-year-old Tom Hayden with the input of 60 of his college-age peers that outlined the grievances of an admittedly privileged group who had the luxury of attending universities. All around them they saw injustice, poverty, and inauthenticity. They saw an unequal distribution of wealth and so they applied their parents’ playbook, The Communist Manifesto. But it was the real proletariat—the working classes—who paid the price for their selfish idealism. It was this disaffected group, disgusted by the behavior of the radical elites, that voted in Richard Nixon in 1968. The divide remains between red and blue America.
That generation—whether a public figure like Garrison Keillor on taxpayer- supported public radio or the radical at the neighborhood party--is very quick to claim credit for having "marched and changed the world." But that generation actually did harm to the Civil Rights movement—not to mention their responsibility for millions of deaths in Vietnam.