While I have always been ashamed of and horrified by our nation’s history of slavery, I must take exception to not only Courtland Milloy’s Sept. 7 Metro column, “Sorry, Georgetown: Slave apology misses big picture,” but also Georgetown University’s ham-handed attempt to provide restitution for something that happened almost 200 years ago.
At that time slavery was legal, and w hat Georgetown did was acceptable under the social norms of the period. If everyone who has ever been wronged, according to the more enlightened standards of a future age, should be compensated, everyone would be eligible for compensation. Many of my relatives were murdered in the Holocaust. Should I sue Germany? What should I demand? Why not sue Egypt for enslaving my ancestors 3,000 years ago?
As much as I deplore the sad history of slavery and Georgetown’s participation in it, all its officials really needed to do, if anything, was to issue the following statement: “We are ashamed of what our predecessors did. Today we are doing everything we can to ensure equal and compassionate treatment of all human beings and pledge to continue to do so as long as we exist as an institution.”
There has to be a reasonable statute of limitations on such things, otherwise, why not, for example, also compensate descendants of the Native Americans who were murdered and displaced from the land where the university was subsequently established?
Norman Dovberg, Reston