Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Getting over Frank Hargrove

Republican Frank Hargrove, member of the Virginia House of Delegates, said blacks should just get over the issue of slavery in an interview in the Charlottesville Daily Progress. These remarks, as well as his suggestion that Jews were Christ-killers, have drawn criticism. He has joined former Senator George Allen and Congressman Virgil Goode in the growing circle of Republican politicians who are insensitive to certain segments of our citizenry and seemingly clueless as to how offensive their public comments can be.

Hargrove spoke in response to a resolution proposing a state apology for African enslavement, sponsored by Delegate Don McEachin, a Henrico County Democrat.
“No one is asking any individual to apologize, because certainly there are no slaveholders alive today and there are no slaves alive today,” said McEachin, whose great-grandfather was born a slave.

“But Virginia is alive and well, and Virginia was built on the backs of slaves, and Virginia’s economy boomed because of slavery, and it is Virginia that ought to apologize,” he said.

Some delegates believe an apology is unnecessary and a sign of too much political correctness.

“The present commonwealth has nothing to do with slavery,” said Del. Frank D. Hargrove, R-Glen Allen, whose ancestors were French Huguenots who came to America in search of religious freedom.

How far do these calls for apologies go, wondered Hargrove, a member of the House Rules Committee that could take up McEachin’s resolution as early as Wednesday.

“Are we going to force the Jews to apologize for killing Christ?” Hargrove wondered. “Nobody living today had anything to do with it. It would be far more appropriate in my view to apologize to the Upper Mattaponi and the Pamunkey” Indians for the loss of their lands in eastern Virginia, he said.

A similar request for an apology to Virginia Indians is planned, McEachin said
Virginia, which received its first slaves at Jamestown in 1619, would be the first state to formally apologize for slavery.

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, a Richmond Democrat, apologized for slavery while mayor of Richmond, said Kevin Hall, Kaine’s press secretary. “He wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to it and certainly he’s got a history of being able to act while in office,” Hall said. A governor’s approval is not required for passage of a joint legislative resolution.

Hargrove said raising the issue is not only symbolic, but “I think it’s counterproductive.” Other Republican delegates kept their views off the record.

“I personally think that our black citizens should get over it,” Hargrove said of slavery, which existed in Virginia from 1619 until the Civil War. “By golly, we’re living in 2007.”
This is from a man who lives in a region that gave rise to the cult of the lost cause. Perhaps Mr. Hargrove should take a drive down Monument Avenue in Richmond. There are a number of statues that stand on the avenue including a number associated with the Civil War. In particular, there are statues of Generals Lee, Jackson and Stuart. Jackson and Stuart, who were killed in battle, face north towards Washington as if preparing to lead a charge. Lee, who survived, faces south with his back to Washington and the federal authority it represents. It seems there other people who have issues to “get over” and the distinguished Delegate should just clam up and…get over it.

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