June 11, 2008

Apologizing

Canada will apologize to natives for forced schooling and christianization. Australia did this a few months ago, apologizing to the Aborigines for, well, a lot.

Long time coming.

Posted by natasha at June 11, 2008 09:59 AM | Human Rights | Technorati links |
Comments

I actually have mixed feelings about this sort of "apology" stuff.

The knee-jerk, left-wing, bleeding-heart, hyphen-in-a-compound-modifier-loving liberal that I am thinks that it's Way Cool, and that we should collectively apologize for every wrong of the world. It's like going to Schul on Yom Kippur.

But there's a naggingly annoying part of me that wonders what it means, and whether it really means anything at all. For George Wallace to apologize for having personally blocked black Alabamans from advancement is a wonderful thing. He did it, and he apologized for it. Great.

But does it really mean anything for people in power today to "apologize" for things their predecessors' predecessors' predecessors' predecessors did, many generations ago? Is there any real "apology" behind it, when the wrong was perpetrated 50 years before the apologizer's grandfather was born?

I suppose there's no harm in calling it an "apology", and if those semantics make some people feel better, well, why not, then? Me, I'd call it an "acknowledgment", and I'd be lots more blunt about it.

"Damn!", I'd say, "How in Hell did we ever think that was the right way to treat people? That was an amazingly shameful bit in our history, and it was very, very, wrong, and you can be butt certain that we'll never do anything like that again, ever!"

Of course, we wouldn't say that, because it doesn't leave any options open. "Aw, geez, we're sorry," always leaves us the possibility of our being sorry again.

Posted by: Barry Leiba at June 11, 2008 12:51 PM

It's not enough, not enough.

Posted by: Ten Bears at June 11, 2008 07:09 PM

You're right, Barry Leiba. If someone from a generation or two later apologizes for something he had no part in personally, it doesn't mean a heck of a lot compared to apologies from the people who did it, or the people who didn't stop it.

What it does mean is that at least the society has recognized that a crime happened. At least there's hope that they won't repeat that crime, although I'll admit it's a pretty slim hope.

Posted by: Cujo359 at June 12, 2008 12:44 AM