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Many caused pain; many paid

January 28, 2008

Re "Atonement," Opinion, Jan. 21

Last Monday, we celebrated perhaps the greatest American of all, Martin Luther King Jr., who fought and died for the civil rights of all Americans. But many Americans who came before King also fought and died for freedom and civil rights, particularly in the fight against slavery. Of course, I am speaking of the hundreds of thousands of Union soldiers who died in the Civil War. It is important to note that Marcus Rediker not once mentioned in his fine Op-Ed article this crucible of our shared history. Rediker points out, "We have made progress, to be sure, but we have not faced the darker side of our history." Yes, we have made progress, and there is still a long way to go, but to say that we as a nation have not faced our darker side is to dismiss the nightmare of the Civil War and the ultimate sacrifice made by many of our ancestors in confronting slavery. Was that not some measure of atonement for the slave trade?

John Leddy

Venice

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According to Rediker, the United States, Britain and Spain profited from the slave trade, and it was a black time in our history. It was also a black time for others he did not mention. Not only were other European countries involved, but the original contributors to the slave trade were many African kings and Arab traders who secured and sold the slaves to the Europeans and Americans and Muslim countries.

Richard A. Reynolds

Lomita

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If Rediker truly wishes for America to come to grips with its slave past, the first step should be to move beyond the cult of victimization that he wallows in.

Greg Urbach

Reseda

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