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Old 12-10-2001, 10:09 AM   #1
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Apologies

I was wondering what you good people think of the trend in the last few years of governments apologizing for past atrocities.

It's been bothering me for a while, because it seems to me that everybody wants an apology for something these days (especially if they can get some money too), but maybe you see it differently? Also, how far back in the past should one go when looking for things to apologize for?

What really made me think about this recently was an article in the Sunday Times which was about new DNA evidence showing that the vikings did not kill off all the Celts, as some people had believed. They had killed some, and basically scared the rest off, and the Celts went to live everywhere in Britain apart from England.

What really struck me was that in another article on the same subject, it was mentioned that if the DNA tests had shown that the vikings had indeed been guilty of genocide against the Celts, the Scandinavian governments would have had to apologize for this.

What do you think? Should the line be drawn at the point where none of the perpetrators nor the victims are alive anymore, or somewhere else?

[This message has been edited by Klodomir (edited 12-10-2001).]
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Old 12-10-2001, 10:33 AM   #2
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We are now in the range of completely silly. As I'm sure you've figured out, most people, when organized in groups, are extremists! I've often wondered where all the centrists are. Perhaps apologizing for things that happened within someone's lifetime here (like the Nazi-era atrocities) are appropriate, but apologizing for things that happened over 1000 years ago? Unless you're the Catholic Church, who still stubbornly lives on the tradition of wacky philosophers from that era, it really doesn't make sense. However, I'm not really familiar with all the politics over there. Do the Scandinavian governments somehow trumpet their past as glorious in the same capacity as the Church, whereas an apology might make sense?

Unfortunately, most cultures are guilty of genocide at one point or another in history. Even the Israelites were guilty of it, and evidence of it is located in "the ban" in Deuteronomy and Joshua in the Old Testament. Does it make it excusable? Most certainly not. However, what is done is done, and we most certainly are not going to be able to fix what happened centuries before our birth and an apology from us seems empty if the perpetrators are long dead. It only makes sense to apologize, like I said, if somehow the Scandinavians somehow had been publically trumpeting their glorious past for a while now.

Does any of this make sense? Eek.

Ormus

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"Then she was in the helicopter, and it was rising, and I had not gone with her, and I never saw her again, none of us did, and the last words she screamed down at me break my heart every time I think of them, and I think of them a few hundred times a day, every day, and then there are the endless, sleepless nights." - Salman Rushdie, The Ground Beneath Her Feet
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Old 12-10-2001, 11:03 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ormus:
Do the Scandinavian governments somehow trumpet their past as glorious in the same capacity as the Church, whereas an apology might make sense?
No, not at all. I can't remember it ever having been a political issue. I think the people of those countries recognize their heritage, but that's about it. Also, if I'm not mistaken, the Danish government recently apologized for the more recent colonization of the West Indies.
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Old 12-11-2001, 02:52 AM   #4
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The only thing I can think of to add to this is Aus. But it doesnt apply as 1stly, our government refuses to apologise, and 2nd, there are still a great many descendants alive today. All I can say is, it does add to the troubles if they don't say sorry. When this is the case, it opens up a whole new can of worms. But as this isn't your point, I'll leave it.

As for what you do say, it does seem limitless to how long it goes on for. You wonder why and for what purpose dragging it all up again will do for the folks living in today.
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Old 12-12-2001, 12:43 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ormus:
Unless you're the Catholic Church, who still stubbornly lives on the tradition of wacky philosophers from that era, it really doesn't make sense.
Ormus, your anti-Catholicism is clear, but I wonder how much you know of what you speak of, or how much is just a cheap & easy shot at an easy target.

While it is true that the Catholic Church was blatantly wrong in its views and actions hundreds of years ago (even perhaps up to WWII), and it took forever for it to come out of the "Stone Age" and join the rest of our Christian brothers and sisters after Vatican II in the 1960's,... to say that it lives in the tradition of "wacky philosophers"... just shows where you are coming from.

In these past years, Pope John Paul II has made great strides in apoligizing for past Church sins. This action was truly something that was unheard of, and is his attempt at healing wounds that have existed for centuries. The man is trying.
The fact that the Church still maintains that what many people no longer want to view as 'sins' (but instead perhaps "freedom to do as I well please!") does not make it a Church that follows "wacky philosophers", but one that has a belief in basic moral and responsible values; of structure and purpose in this world.

As for the act of apoligizing.... It is an act of 'healing'. Of accountability and responsibility.
It is 'asking for forgiveness'. The key to healing and growing.


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Old 12-12-2001, 04:00 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by Trash Can:
As for the act of apoligizing.... It is an act of 'healing'. Of accountability and responsibility.
It is 'asking for forgiveness'. The key to healing and growing.
I think we probably all agree on what the purpose of apology is, but how far back in time should it go?

[This message has been edited by Klodomir (edited 12-12-2001).]
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Old 12-12-2001, 04:06 PM   #7
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If the apology is sincere and addresses the factors that influenced the atrocities to be committed, it's immensely valuable no matter how far back in time it was.

Example: A couple years ago President Clinton finally apologized to the citizens of Guatemala on behalf of the U.S., for supporting and training the brutal government and death squads that murdered, tortured, and repressed so many Guatemalans in the 1970s and 1980s. Unfortunately, the apology was couched in "well, it was the cold war" - and so we continue with the same policies today. If, instead, the apology had drawn attention to the fact that we tolerated and supported these gross human rights violations because the perpetrators were good business partners of U.S. corporations, that might have made a major difference. If these issues were talked about openly, the American people might do more to prevent our businesses from influencing policy so brutally in the future. Which is presumably why our corporate-owned media and government do not present these apologies in an honest way.

Same thing with East Timor. Lots of apologies from the international community about how we neglected their plight (600,000 murdered by an Indonesian government that the U.S. and other western powers supported completely), and how it will never happen again. But no open discussion about WHY we supported that brutal government - because our government and companies want access to the oil, rubber, tin, and other natural resources of that area (not to mention slave labor) - and the Indonesian government was happy to provide it in exchange for massive financial and military support from us. If that was discussed openly, we might actually have a chance to prevent this from happening in the future.

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Old 12-16-2001, 12:32 AM   #8
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Eating crow:
Had to do some apoligizing today, in fact.
I allowed someone's arrogance and fat head to affect me and cause me to blow up.

Ego is such a drag!!!!
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