President Clinton is mulling a proposed apology to black Americans whose ancestors were slaves.
The proposal isn't getting anywhere in Congress because, as many members point out, it could also feel badly about everything from the Christians being thrown to the lions in ancient Rome to the slavery that's still practiced in some parts of Africa.
It's emotional symbolism, an avoidance of problem-solving.
But if the president still chooses to unilaterally issue some form of apology, he should tie it to a resolution of thanks to the countless number of white people who not only died in a war that helped end slavery but who also fought, and continue to fight, for true equality under the law.
Very little of what has been accomplished in fostering fair treatment and better race relations could have been done without white support.