Nearly all the posts are bilingual.
Presque tous les articles sont bilingues.

English spoken. On parle français. (وكمان منفهم عربي، حبيبي)

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Australia is sorry

Australia has treated the first inhabitants of the island-continent, the Aboriginals, in a way for the least shameful since the White Men arrived there. (I'll spare you the depressing details.) Today, Australia officially asked for their forgiveness.
Today, Australia has officially entered the category of truly civilized countries.
My respect goes to the Vatican who apologized for the Inquisition and for its silence during the Shoah. And to France, who collaborated (as a regime) to the genocide of the Jews, and admits without false pretence its exactions during the Algeria war. Examples to follow...
Today, if you mention the exactions and atrocities committed on the Algerian side during the "Independance War", you gravely offend a nation that feels insulted by racists. Turkey bristles up like a sunburnt porcupine if you so much as mention the very real slaughter of the Armenians... perpetuated by a regime IN THEORY long gone, 93 years ago. The slave traders that captured Black slaves, exploited or sold them, were first of all locals: African and Arabian tribes and peoples following a centuries-old tradition that still exists today in some places (<cough>Sudan!<cough>). The Americans and other "westerner slavers" merely bought them after that. I won't even talk about Bush Jr at this very moment, nor about many other barbarians in a three-piece suit and tie, kimono, djellaba, loincloth or poncho.
The road of Earth's citizens toward veritable civilization is still a long way. Before correcting one's wrongs, one must first admit he has some. Maybe we haven't found the Missing Link because WE are the Missing Link between primitives and an evolved species...
Which reminds me: a little more than 20 years ago, I earned a younger child a spanking from his dad because I hadn't thought before leading him into being naughty. Today still, I feel ashamed. Salloum, if you read this, I'm sorry for being such a damn fool.

L'Australie a traité les habitants originels de l'île-continent, les Aborigènes, d'une manière pour le moins honteuse depuis l'arrivée des Blancs. (Je vous passe les détails déprimants.) Aujourd'hui, elle leur demande officiellement pardon.
Aujourd'hui, l'Australie entre officiellement dans la catégorie des pays vraiment civilisés.
Mon respect va au Vatican qui a demandé pardon pour l'Inquisition, et son silence durant la Shoah. Ainsi que la France, qui collabora (en tant que régime) au génocide des Juifs, et qui admet sans faux-semblants ses exactions durant la guerre d'Algérie. Des exemples à suivre...
Aujourd'hui, si on parle des exactions et atrocités commises du côté Algérien durant la "Guerre d'Indépendance", on fâche gravement une nation qui se sent insultée par des racistes. La Turquie se hérisse comme un porc-épic ayant attrapé un coup de soleil dès qu'on parle du massacre bien réel des Arméniens... commis EN PRINCIPE par un régime appartenant au lointain passé, il y a 93 ans. Les négriers qui capturaient des esclaves Noirs, les exploitaient ou les vendaient, étaient en premier lieu des locaux: tribus et peuples Africains ou Arabes, suivant une tradition de plusieurs siècles qui existe encore en certains lieux (<tousse>Soudan!<tousse>). Les Américains et autres "esclavagistes Occidentaux" ne faisaient que les leur acheter ensuite. Je ne vous parle même pas de Bush Jr en ce moment même, ni de nombreux autres barbares en costume-cravate, kimono, djellaba, pagne ou poncho.
La route des Terriens vers la civilisation véritable est encore longue. Avant de pouvoir corriger ses torts, il faut commencer par reconnaître qu'on en a. Peut-être que nous n'avons pas trouvé le Chaînon Manquant parce que NOUS sommes le Chaînon Manquant entre une espèce primitive et une évoluée...
Ceci me rappelle: il y a un peu plus de 20 ans, j'ai vallu à un enfant plus petit que moi de recevoir une fessée de son père parce que je n'avais pas réfléchi avant de l'inciter à faire des bêtises. Jusqu'à aujourd'hui, j'en ai honte. Salloum, si tu lis ça, je te demande pardon d'avoir été un imbécile.

10 comments:

Joe Dick said...

Today, Australia officially asked for their forgiveness.
Today, Australia has officially entered the category of truly civilized countries.
My respect goes to the Vatican who apologized for the Inquisition and for its silence during the Shoah. And to France, who collaborated (as a regime) to the genocide of the Jews, and admits without false pretence its exactions during the Algeria war. Examples to follow...


You're way off base there, Pascal. Why should modern day people who had nothing to do with any of that apologize? The modern day government in Canada apologized for the treatment of the indigenous people here, but why? It's not that I approve of what was done to them, it's just that it is illogical for people who had nothing to do with it should apologize. For some of them, even their ancestors had nothing to do with it.

If I were Prime Minister, to make such an apology would be ridiculous because my family on both sides did not come to this country until fairly recently and nothing to do with the crimes against the so-called First Nations people.

Australia has long been among the civilized nations of the world, but their actions that you mention here only make them look weak and spineless.

Only an apology from the people responsible has any meaning.

This doesn't apply to reparations. The government here, for example, paying out to the Japanese who were rounded up and put into camps during the Second World War. The First Nations people who suffered in the Residential Schools, forced to give up speaking their native languages... That is different.

An apology from those not responsible is totally meaningless, and were I an Australian Aboriginie, I would be insulted by it.

Joe Dick said...

Just so you know, I see that some of my wording here is garbled, but these days I'm trying to hold off deleting and reposting messages. ;-)

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

"Why should modern day people who had nothing to do with any of that apologize?"
Well, how about for the very same reasons one is proud to belong to a given country and culture? We don't just inherit the prestige and nobility of our ancestors, and conveniently discard the ugly rest. Furthermore, this is very recent history. I wouldn't bother demanding apologies for the wars of Napoleon, or Alexander, or Julius Caesar, or Tamerlan. But these events involved in Australia? Those who caused them, and those who endured them, are still very much alive today. It's not the dead dusty past.

"it is illogical for people who had nothing to do with it should apologize."
The apology didn't come from "the Australian Prime Minister, the man". It came from the representative of a country, and in the name of this country. Sometimes, crimes are not the doing of a person but of a bigger entity, which we are part of.
Would you be surprised if Michael Moore said: "I'm sorry to the people of Iraq for the war my country has caused"? He's always been aginst it, and yet he wrote a book called "Will they ever trust us again?". (Actually, he was talking about the deceived and mutilated veterans and the families of those killed, but it's similar.)

One doesn't apologize of his country's crimes in order to alleviate some non-existent personal guilt. It's done out of self-respect. Just for the same reason that today's Germans are the harshest critics of the Nazi regime... save for some embarrassing ones who want to "keep it alive" as some source of fucking pride. Basically, apologizing in the name of one's country amounts to admitting that something was wrong, and the contrary of a cause for pride.
Do you think the Red Khmers regime in Cambodia is long gone, the end, let's turn a new lef already? Pol Pot eluded trial to his last day because most of today's politicians collaborated with his bloody regime, and it's the interest of nearly all of them that the recent past becomes the silent and dead past ASAP.

"Only an apology from the people responsible has any meaning."
Either an apology, and a sincere one, or throwing them in jail! I agree.
But please allow me to remind you of the fave defense the nazi dignitaries gave at the Nuremberg trial: "We only followed orders, it is the System that's guilty of any crime, we were convinced we were doin the right thing for the Nation -and hence for every last citizen-"... It's called dilution of responsibilities. Whether that defense is valid or not...
Dou you know what's so ignoble and hypocrite and cowardly about lapidation? No single stone kills. Nobody ever really gives a killing blow. It is only the reunion of the blows that kills. Not me, not him, not him, but "the crowd", an immaterial entity. No individual ever is a killer., just like no single grain of sand suffocates you in an avalanghe, no single drop of water drowns you by itself. The truth is, the moment you're part of the community which that crowd emerged from, either you immediately repudiate them, or you're carrying a part of the responsibility of all. One spontaneously feels noble by taking even a tiny part in a grand enterprise. One should feel self-disgust for being an active OR passive part of any monstrosity.
War has been permitted -and glorified- for milleniae because what is a crime if done by one suddenly becomes irrelevant when performed by a multitude. One priest *may* turn rotten, but the deeds of the whole Church are equivalent to God's decisions, and we all know that God isn't accountable before mere mortals. Same for a Nation.

I never was actually involved in a lapidation by my community, but I've lived a situation very similar in spirit. And I took the decent position to take, against the others. (It cost me much, naturally.) Yet, today, I wouldn't think twice before saying "I am immensely sorry for what my people did". Because I'm part of that society.
Maybe it's hard to explain, especially since there's no way I'm going to tell the details of the story and brag about it. The important thing is the deed, not the medal. I don't want or need someone else to know, suffice that it was done and I can look at my own eyes in the mirror.

Our attitude towards the deeds of the past, good and bad alike, is a symbol of who and what we are today. Nazi-like antisemitism is not dead today, especially in the arabo-muslim world. Racism and treating black-skinned persons as sub-humans is still a factual actuality. Most of what we reject from the past? We do reject it in the name of the Present, for our own sake and self-respect.

I don't know if there is any better way to try and express it. You have of course the full right to feel I'm off-base, and this is not a mere P.C. formula. I don't KNOW if I'm right and whether it's you who are off base. I just follow my heart. There is seldom one single clear blazing One Truth. We have contradictory positions? Well, sometimes there's no telling who's wrong, and sometimes NOBODY has to even be wrong. :-)

"An apology from those not responsible is totally meaningless, and were I an Australian Aboriginie, I would be insulted by it."
Well, no offense, but clearly you're not an Australian Aborigine then. Why am I saying that? Because apart from direct compensations, they've asked and waited a very long time precisely for that official, collective, governmental apology.
Looks like they don't view things the way you do.

Again, this doesn't imply that anybody has to be "wrong", be it with garbled wording or with Shakespearian verses. :-)
Thank God there's room inthis world for much, much more that one unique "right path".

Here's a somehow similar example: for years now, most building workers in Lebanon have been syrians. They're the equivalent of the mexicans in the USA: a low-cost, indispensable labor force. After the end (hopefully!) of the civil war and its massive destructions, a vast rebuilding movement took place in Lebanon. Now, Syria was also a leeching regime that controlled Lebanon through "intelligence networks", etc, etc, you get the picture. A pupil of the Soviet Union. In 2005, finally, the Syrians left. I mean, the unofficial dictatorship. Many of the workers did NOT leave, because it would suit nobody. Essentially, it is the military who left. Now, it is notorious knowledge that each and every syrian in lebanon was an information agent. Simply because it was part of the procedure: "You want a permit to go work in Lebanon? Then you'll have to spy and report. Everything you see and hear, you report."
I consider the Syrian regime as responsible, along with its soldiers. But today, now that one finally dares speak in the street without trembling in fear (especially that the current lebanese regime is fiercely anti-syrian), what do you hear when you chat openly with an ordinary syrian? "You owe us. We syrians built Lebanon."
Yeah, and they got paid good salaries in return, it was a fair trade, so we "owe" them nothing. Especially considering all the billions their regime stole from our finances for 15 years.
Now, I don't hold any resentment against an ordinary Syrian today, if he hasn't taken part in dark actions himself. Most of them are just ordinary blokes. But were that attitude of theirs be replaced by "Syria has plundered Lebanon, and as a Syrian I'm sorry for that, I don't approve it at all", well, I'd be a little more satisfied. Their attitude today is saying that, were the Syrian army and omnipresent rule return to Lebanon tomorrow, things woud restart anew, and it wouldn't bother them.
As a consequence, I do not hate any ordinary syrian... but honestly, I can't like them one bit, you dig?

Aborigines in Australia TODAY are a sub-grade community. This apology serves the purpose of committing that things are really changing, that something from the recent past is now a thing of the past for good. It is a first step in a daily process of reconciliation and moving on.

Now, those statements of the Pope regarding the pedophile priest scandals in the USA? With a whopping *10%* of them involved? I'm sorry, I just don't trust him one bit. Actions, Josef Ratzinger, stong firm actions NOW, SHOW us what Karol Wojtyla never really gave us to see in spite of all his devout kneelings. Then, maybe I'll start doubting your bigot ass a little less. So far, you feel to me like a two-faced ogre inviting Hansel and Gretel into your "new, clean and upstanding" candy church. But I still smell some smoke in the chimney.

Joe Dick said...

Well, how about for the very same reasons one is proud to belong to a given country and culture? We don't just inherit the prestige and nobility of our ancestors, and conveniently discard the ugly rest.

Actually that’s exactly how it works. We do not inherit the sins of our ancestors. That’s the way it works. Maybe other cultures have a different tradition. (In fact I know that some do.) We do not have to apologize for the crimes of others. It would be the equivalent of a German born after the war whose father was a Nazi war criminal apologizing for his father’s actions. It makes no sense and would have little meaning. If you were victimized by that father, you would want to hear it from him personally.

Furthermore, this is very recent history. I wouldn't bother demanding apologies for the wars of Napoleon, or Alexander, or Julius Caesar, or Tamerlan. But these events involved in Australia? Those who caused them, and those who endured them, are still very much alive today. It's not the dead dusty past.

How recent are we talking here? Was the current Prime Minister of Australia in power at the time some of these things were done? If the ticker of the guy who gave the orders is still turning over, get him to apologize – if he’d mean it. If the crimes are more recent than that, I would say it’ll be a while before Australia will become a civilized nation in my eyes. In Canada most of the crimes against the indigenous people were long enough ago that those directly responsible are dead. For the current Prime Minister to apologize makes little sense. I understand that it would not be him personally but as a representative of the country, but it smacks of political correctness and would be viewed as insincere. I can tell you, the First Nations people here want to see cold, hard cash – they don’t want meaningless apologies.

The apology didn't come from "the Australian Prime Minister, the man". It came from the representative of a country, and in the name of this country. Sometimes, crimes are not the doing of a person but of a bigger entity, which we are part of.
I understand that, but as I said above it would strike me, personally, as insincere and therefore valueless. It looks good in the papers and possibly might move a country a step up on the Human Development Index. (Australia’s never been No. 1, after all. Apologies play well in the sticks.)

Would you be surprised if Michael Moore said: "I'm sorry to the people of Iraq for the war my country has caused"? He's always been aginst it, and yet he wrote a book called "Will they ever trust us again?". (Actually, he was talking about the deceived and mutilated veterans and the families of those killed, but it's similar.)

I wouldn’t be surprised, but it would have about as much meaning to the people. From your way of thinking the apology would have to come from the representative of the country, the President, and from my way of thinking it would have to come from Dubya himself. It doesn’t have much impact if it comes from Obama, or Hilary, or McCain – whoever wins that dog and pony show.

One doesn't apologize of his country's crimes in order to alleviate some non-existent personal guilt. It's done out of self-respect.
Apologies are always made to alleviate guilt, although why someone would feel guilty about the actions of someone else – even if they were, say, a fellow German – I don’t know. It makes no sense if looked at purely rationally rather than emotionally.
Just for the same reason that today's Germans are the harshest critics of the Nazi regime... save for some embarrassing ones who want to "keep it alive" as some source of fucking pride.

They are embarrassed by it, sure, but that’s about it.

Basically, apologizing in the name of one's country amounts to admitting that something was wrong, and the contrary of a cause for pride.

This is the odd thing – having pride or shame in the actions of others simply because they were of the same nation as you. To risk sounding like Mr. Spock, it’s not logical.

Do you think the Red Khmers regime in Cambodia is long gone, the end, let's turn a new leaf already? Pol Pot eluded trial to his last day because most of today's politicians collaborated with his bloody regime, and it's the interest of nearly all of them that the recent past becomes the silent and dead past ASAP.

I’m not sure what this has to do with what we’re talking about here.

Either an apology, and a sincere one, or throwing them in jail! I agree.
But please allow me to remind you of the fave defense the nazi dignitaries gave at the Nuremberg trial: "We only followed orders, it is the System that's guilty of any crime, we were convinced we were doing the right thing for the Nation -and hence for every last citizen-"... It's called dilution of responsibilities.


Well of course they were lying. The reason the top men distanced themselves from certain actions is because they knew they were wrong. There is new work being done (see Rees’ book “Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State”) which shows that the death camps and others Nazi crimes were not the work of a handful of “madmen” but that very large numbers of Germans, including your average Joe, had to know and willingly participate to get the job done. Is the current German Chancellor going to apologize for Hitler? Why? What meaning would that have? And why should modern day Germans, at least those who were either not alive or were very young at the time of the war, feel shame for the actions of their ancestors? And this is coming from someone whose grandfathers both fought against the Nazis. (As a side note, some historians are saying that not enough time has passed for a true dissection of that time and that regime to be done, because it always ends up sounding like an apology for the Nazis. Like they condone the actions of the Nazis.)

War has been permitted -and glorified- for milleniae because what is a crime if done by one suddenly becomes irrelevant when performed by a multitude.

To be accurate, what is a crime is determined by that multitude. Not every killing is murder because murder by definition is an unlawful killing. The killing soldiers do is not necessarily murder because it is socially sanctioned. I do not believe in some universal morality. Morality is defined by a people.

One priest *may* turn rotten, but the deeds of the whole Church are equivalent to God's decisions, and we all know that God isn't accountable before mere mortals. Same for a Nation.

That’s maybe how it works if you’re Catholic. Other denominations* look at it differently. And, anyway, something like the Crusades was considered lawful and God’s will at the time but I doubt you’d get anyone to say that today. Well, no, I take that back – you could probably find somebody somewhere who would say it.

Yet, today, I wouldn't think twice before saying "I am immensely sorry for what my people did". Because I'm part of that society.

Part of that society but not responsible for the actions of other members of that society. There is no collective guilt in a society. I do not like people who take pride in being of a certain group because of the praise-worthy actions of that group, or who feel guilty because of the guilty actions of members of that group (take credit only for your own deeds).

Our attitude towards the deeds of the past, good and bad alike, is a symbol of who and what we are today. Nazi-like antisemitism is not dead today, especially in the arabo-muslim world.

This is kind of a side note but you know that anti-semitism is alive and well all over the world. Here is North America is still going strong. It was going strong in the Second World War and was felt by many of the soldiers fighting against the Nazis and, I’m sure, within the hearts of many of those who liberated the camps. The Nazis found many willing participants in the areas they conquered, people who denounced friends and neighbours they had know for years (and who were not coerced into doing so).

I don't know if there is any better way to try and express it. You have of course the full right to feel I'm off-base, and this is not a mere P.C. formula. I don't KNOW if I'm right and whether it's you who are off base. I just follow my heart. There is seldom one single clear blazing One Truth. We have contradictory positions? Well, sometimes there's no telling who's wrong, and sometimes NOBODY has to even be wrong. :-)

It is difficult to tell, but I am trying to look at things logically and dispassionately rather just going with my gut. I don’t want it to sound as though I condone any of the definitely wrong actions of those people whose are being apologized for. I know that the way the aboriginal people here in North America have been treated has been very wrong. But an apology from me for actions that I did not take and my ancestors did not take seems to me to patronizing, politically-correct bullshit.

Well, no offense, but clearly you're not an Australian Aborigine then.

To be honest I am a little tired of being told that because I’m a white dude I can’t possibly understand what any of those people have gone through.

Why am I saying that? Because apart from direct compensations, they've asked and waited a very long time precisely for that official, collective, governmental apology.
Looks like they don't view things the way you do.


Their leaders don’t view it the way I do, maybe; it’s hard to say if your Joe Aboriginie feels the same way. To be honest I think that an apology would be pretty empty to them, but that it might as you say at least be an acknowledgment on paper that the abstract entity of the government admits responsibility. In that way it maybe makes sense, and possibly wording it differently or calling it something other than apology would work. To me, an apology has always been something that a person says themselves for something that they personally have done. This kind of apology is the classic “politician’s apology” – “I’m sorry if you feel you were wronged by this government.”

Aborigines in Australia TODAY are a sub-grade community. This apology serves the purpose of committing that things are really changing, that something from the recent past is now a thing of the past for good. It is a first step in a daily process of reconciliation and moving on.

They can apologize for that, the problem is that they will be including in that apology (whether it is put into words or not) the actions of people from centuries ago, the original colonists who were, after all, wronged by another government. I wonder, has Britain ever apologized to the white Australians for sending their ancestors there for having committed trivial offences? Maybe they have, I don’t know.

Now, those statements of the Pope regarding the pedophile priest scandals in the USA? With a whopping *10%* of them involved? I'm sorry, I just don't trust him one bit. Actions, Josef Ratzinger, stong firm actions NOW, SHOW us what Karol Wojtyla never really gave us to see in spite of all his devout kneelings. Then, maybe I'll start doubting your bigot ass a little less. So far, you feel to me like a two-faced ogre inviting Hansel and Gretel into your "new, clean and upstanding" candy church. But I still smell some smoke in the chimney.

We can agree on that at least. I do not trust him either, mainly because he was a Nazi who deserted the German Army only in the final days of WW2 when the writing was on the wall. He saw which way the wind was blowing and he got out when there was little personal risk to do so.

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

"Actually that’s exactly how it works."
How it works, true. But is it how it should? I mean, national pride feels to me kinda hollow just like the sins of the father don't feel like *I* did them.
(Bismillah, what an un-lebanese thing to say!)

All I'm really saying is, the way things work in today's world, being a citizen you have to reject some national things in order to state you don't implicitly ENDORSE them.

"It would be the equivalent of a German born after the war whose father was a Nazi war criminal apologizing for his father’s actions."
"I'm not my father". We're in agreement on this.
But I feel like a renegade to my country's mentality by embracing this principle. Here, an S.O.B. is supposed to be born a bastard. Uh... um... well, you know what I meant, right? ;-)

"How recent are we talking here?"
That's the bitch with dilution of responsibility. In an institution, there's no definite passing from the father to the son. PEOPLE are gradually replaced, one by one, shifting the hue of the whole collectivity along. But as long as there are some remaining people from those initially involved, any one of these people can crystallize the guilt.
Which makes me glad that we are mortal. I view it as God's immanent wisdom: since (most) humans do not have the spiritual level required to let bygones be bygones, their limited life expectancy means that Time takes care of erasing the grudges and the frustrations, allowing the world to move on. "The Montagues and the Capulets have been feuding forever. But I, Romeo, only want to love you, kind and peaceful Juliet."
Too bad for those two that they tried to rush things...

"If the ticker of the guy who gave the orders is still turning over, get him to apologize – if he’d mean it."
I recall the affair of french nazi collaborator and post-war Prefect of Paris, Maurice Papon. Finally got sentenced to jail some 50 years later, and quite a mild sentence, I felt, considering what he had done (zealously sending thousands of Jews to extermination). Then, he got a very early release from this mild sentence, because of his old age and health state (oh, boo-hoo!). Then, when he died years later, he kept the medal of honor he had been awarded some years after WW2, and as requested in his will he was buried wearing the damn trinket.
Much outcry, this caused. Me, I just feel relieved that this sorry affair is over, good riddance and let God judge him. But the leniency that such people sometimes enjoy from the living feels like the exact opposite of national apologies.

"If the crimes are more recent than that, I would say it’ll be a while before Australia will become a civilized nation in my eyes."
To my knowledge, they ARE more recent than that.
But what? Do you consider, simply, that the country involved becomes civilized and innocent the day the last perpetrator dies, and that's that?
I'm much more wary of the pernicious remanence of IDEAS. When I see a negationnist today, I feel that a repetition of the genocide committed by the nazis is not at all something inconceivable. It's not just about what one person did to another, multiplied by a big number. When things become collective, it creates an entity on a level above mere individuals. This is how an abomination such as a war, which most everyone would reject on the individual level, can have everybody fighting nevertheless because it's at the scale of the nation.
A crowd is a living organism with its own rules and mind.
I, the individualist, ONCE became part of a crowd. From careful rational decision. On March 14, 2005, I went and took part in the historically unique demonstration that led to the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon. A most unique experience. It was not only a special moment, from what we knew we were doing. I FELT THE CROWD. Like you feel your heartbeat at night when you go to bed and everything is calm and you're not yet asleep.
I can also tell you that today, this crowd entity is pretty much dead. The "gravitational field" that gave it unity has shattered into political dissent, but that's another topic (see recent post, "Toxic questions").
The thing is, when you're part of a collective entity, and we pretty much all are in one way or another, individual awareness is vital to remain more than a drone. Most people seem incapable of such objective distanciation (which I once CHOSE to PARTLY turn off, by conscious individual decision). To these people, a collective action, like a national apology, is like a necessary ritual. A catharsis.
You think like an individual and an individualist, Joe. That's good, that's great, I really admire you a lot for that. But maybe, just maybe, it fogs your vision of how the non-individual world works and spins its cogs. You can be supremely right on your personal level, but it ceases being correct if at a larger scale most of the imperfect others are different from you. If things should work one way but actually work another. Principles need to take the real world into account. Your perfect attitude might be inappropriate for the imperfect world, you know?

"I understand that it would not be him personally but as a representative of the country, but it smacks of political correctness and would be viewed as insincere."
Please do remember that Political Correctness was an excellent notion that got catastrophically twisted, precisely by a collective entity. Originally, binning all demeaning words and the despising ideas/attitudes conveyed by them was just great. Collective hypocrisy ruined it; practically reversed it into a dictatorship of misrepresented whining minorities. "The released slave who knows mercy no more", as Enrico Macias sang.
I know how you feel, it's very hard to keep believing in a good thing when its facade has been turned into a cloaca. This is why many believers see the truth of the Clergy and then become atheists. While I think the notion of a loving God IS compatible with the existence of a despicable priesthood. It just implies that His mercy and patience must indeed be infinite and superhuman...

"I can tell you, the First Nations people here want to see cold, hard cash"
That would be a good start. Preferably, followed by a dedicated program and plan to rebuild all that was destroyed in their community (and OF their community) by the meddling of the past.
That is, if global warming still has it possible... The clock can never "simply" be turned back.

"When it's everybody's fault, it's nobody's fault. But the crime is done nevertheless."

"It looks good in the papers and possibly might move a country a step up on the Human Development Index. (Australia’s never been No. 1, after all. Apologies play well in the sticks.)"
You're being cynical. You might also be entirely correct. :-(
Is cynicism anything more that unabashed lucidity expressed out loud?

"From your way of thinking the apology would have to come from the representative of the country, the President, and from my way of thinking it would have to come from Dubya himself."
A beautiful, impossible fantasy...
But you're implying that the dummy pulled the strings himself?! ):-P

"whoever wins that dog and pony show."
I thought it was an elephant and donkey show?
In the red camp, it's been turning into a dog eat dog show. Check my new year predictions and the small correction that followed. Nobody is better placed to make the Democrats lose, but the Democrats themselves! Bloody fools, oblivious to the responsibility of their pettiness towards the world's (and their country's) fate.

"Apologies are always made to alleviate guilt"
Maybe. Globally. It's not MY view, but maybe it's my turn to mistake my own lucidity principles with how the world actually doesn't work. Especially when we're dealing with politicians.
Never underestimate the number of spare faces and masks a politician may hold up his sleeve. Or down his underpants.

"To risk sounding like Mr. Spock, it’s not logical."
You DO sound like Mr Spock.
I'm a big fan of Mr Spock. :-)

"I’m not sure what this [Cambodia] has to do with what we’re talking about here."
The Red Khmers regime was so abominable, the nazis looked like mere altar boys in comparison. No shit! Cambodia has been prosecuting (or meaning to) those responsible who are still alive. And somehow, nothing with the trials is working properly.
Currently, the ideologist of the RKs, Khieu Sampan, is finally on trial, the first one to make it to court. And it feels like the authorities are deliberately trying to cause a mistrial. Latest scandal: his (world-famous) french defense lawyer complained that he massive prosecution file he received had not been translated in French, while it is one of the official languages of this UN-sponsored court. Reply of the judge to the complaint: "I advise the defendant should find himself another lawyer."
Effin' sh*t, isn't there immensely proof enough to condemn the guy without blatantly violating his legal rights? That's no fortuitous incident.
The guilty ones are not only very much alive for a good many of them, they're posing as angels while covering up the whole cesspool. The Cambodian people need some closure to soothe their very personal traumas (it was in the Seventies), and they're being mocked every day.
Now do you see the relevance with national apologies of a recent crime? :-(
Saddam was also guilty as sin, but the trial and execution that he got were an utter embarrassment to the human race. (I mean, species.) "They" wanted him dead as swiftly as possible, but justice had nothing to do with it. The case needed to be buried with him, that's all.

"There is new work being done (see Rees’ book “Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State”) which shows that the death camps and others Nazi crimes were not the work of a handful of “madmen” but that very large numbers of Germans, including your average Joe, had to know and willingly participate to get the job done."
I've read a decent book about this. I know. And Schindler's List showed this quite clearly. It was no State secret... Just remember, once the system is up and running, it can last even if 95% of the population is in disagreement, and just too afraid to speak up. Hitler did start by exterminating the "rejects" of the Aryan race: the handicaped, the retarded, the old...
But you're right, even 1% would already be a large number, and sufficient, to define a massive collaboration. 1%? Sufficient, but in real life it's always much more. I see the political supporters of war criminals in Lebanon: at the VERY least, they're 10-20%. Probably closer to the 24.19% who voted "Yes" in the poll I mentioned.
BTW, that would actually be "your average Hans". Or "Johann"...

"Is the current German Chancellor going to apologize for Hitler? Why? What meaning would that have?"
I think the current German Chancellor is doing better than that: her actions speak louder than any verbal apology, and she seems to me like a very good Chief of State. She was in Israel for the commemoration of the Shoah, but did not reiterate any apologies in the name of Germany.
But, in other cases than Germany, an apology would have the merit of declaring that the political line concerned has come to an end, that the heirs of those ideas have disavowed them like today's Germany clearly has. The opposite of the Cambodian current farce.
(I say "Cambodian" because it's safer to speak of countries very far from mine...)
Political heads in Lebanon today are incredibly busy calling their opponents war criminals, as if there were many of them who DIDN'T head a, um, "private Resistance army" in the dark days of blood and madness.
I wonder... is it complicated to get an emigration visa to Cambodia? Might be a calmer place than right here in the near future...

"And why should modern day Germans, at least those who were either not alive or were very young at the time of the war, feel shame for the actions of their ancestors?"
To quote Nicolas Sarkozy: "France has officially admitted the crimes committed on its side during the Algerian war, and apologized for them. Some peole still say this is not sufficient. Well, I say, case closed!"
"Some peole still say this is not sufficient." The same people who obliviate the fact that on the Algerian side there were things far more barbaric going on... It's still an ongoing war of ideas.
I don't know whether a national apology is the solution. But clearly the wound is still open. Many of the "stolen generation" in Australia are also very much alive and traumatised.
When it feels like the whole of society acts as if nothing wrong had been done to you (because most are too embarrassed to want to think about it), it helps if symbolically the whole society one day speaks up and says "we're sorry". Too many citizens are cowardly and act as if no collective crime involving their implicit approval had ever been committed. Most everybody knew, but precious few botherd to express disapproval, and these are the same people an uprooted Native child has to live amidst of today.
The national apology in Australia was made, essentially, in the name of the people who should be apologizing for their collective complicity, little by little in this injustice. It's a way of liberating everybody from the apprehension of being the first to apologize, risking to alienate those less enthusiastic. It is a sort of admittance that the same society who was responsible for this is globally admitting their wrongs today. The same people.

"some historians are saying that not enough time has passed for a true dissection of that time and that regime to be done, because it always ends up sounding like an apology for the Nazis"
I tend to feel it too. Seems as if any analysis of that period just "has" to conclude as "nazis were monsters, we are so sorry". Same thing with the Algerian independance war in France. To many fresh passions.
On the Wikipedia article on nazism, you can see that SOME of what they did wasn't horrible, and was in fact very positive. They prohibited vivisection and animal cruelty (as much as it may surprise, considering how they later treated some humans), passed laws for the protection of the environment, and were the very first to discover and make public the scientifically-proven health dangers of tobacco smoking and asbestos, decades before the rest of the world. Nobody's perfectly good OR bad, eh?

"To be accurate, what is a crime is determined by that multitude."
Right. You're expressing accurately what I was putting ironically.

"I do not believe in some universal morality."
Well, I think that SOME moral things are universal, and spontaneously self-obvious to an open mind. Killing a human is universally wrong, taking a life is always bad and a failure in a way. Sometimes it is necessarily. Sometimes it is unavoidable. Like the soldier's example. But it's still not a good thing. It's just a "necessary evil". By my criteriae of universal morality, "sometimes it's a dirty job but somebody has to do it anyway". This is why I unflinchingly condemn war and those who DECIDE it, but will never permit myself to criticize a soldier for doing his duty.
Otherwise put: I really don't like it, but I can understand. I won't call everybody who ends a human life a criminal.
One example is, euthanasia. If someone, practically, "doesn't have a life left", only a period of useless suffering, or who's already brain-dead with only the mechanical body still "alive". Well, I'd still hate the idea of ending such a life. But sometimes it's the most merciful thing to do. Either a necessary evil, or the lesser of two.

"something like the Crusades was considered lawful and God’s will at the time but I doubt you’d get anyone to say that today."
Is that a bet? Meet me at the White House, and we'll see about that!

"anti-semitism is alive and well all over the world."
Sure. But why settle for anything less than the creme de la creme?

"I am trying to look at things logically and dispassionately rather just going with my gut."
Yeah, never follow someone or something, like bowels, that you know is full of... ;-)

"I don’t want it to sound as though I condone any of the definitely wrong actions of those people whose are being apologized for."
Nope, that you didn't, I know. Very clear.
I wouldn't expect any less from you. :-)

Well, no offense, but clearly you're not an Australian Aborigine then.
To be honest I am a little tired of being told that

"No offense" meant it was not said in a patronizing way, but in a LITERAL way. Just a -possibly lame- pun that these people decided on the other attitude in the present case. Never claimed you couldn't understand. Especally you. You're one of those guys who think before they leap in the crowd's stream, ergo...

"Their leaders don’t view it the way I do, maybe; it’s hard to say if your Joe Aboriginie feels the same way."
Touché. Point taken.

“I’m sorry if you feel you were wronged by this government.”
I remember Bush Jr saying something similar. A classic indeed! :-)
I just love how it SOUNDS like an apology, but never actually regrets THE WRONG in itself. "I'm sorry you FEEL that way" could very well be just a polite way to say "fuck off, you retard"...

"I wonder, has Britain ever apologized to the white Australians for sending their ancestors there for having committed trivial offences? Maybe they have, I don’t know."
Haven't got a clue.
And did they ever apologize for the independance war in America? The one where those no-good French scums went and teamed with George Washington?... :-P

"Now, those statements of the Pope..."
We can agree on that at least.

Then we're in agreement over the most important issue! :-)
I don't even need to study the guy's past. I see the present, and it's enough.
I've always been good at assessing people's physionomy. It's not about the shape of the face, but those expression wrinkles are the true mirror of the soul. Dubya is little more than a moron with no morals. That Pope is plain sinister. Condi... well, let's skip that one, thinking of her Domai beauty is bad for my digestion!

I don't have the presumption to claim I hold all the answers. I just think showing an honestly reconciliating attitude seems like a very good way to proceed.

Joe Dick said...

You think like an individual and an individualist, Joe. That's good, that's great, I really admire you a lot for that. But maybe, just maybe, it fogs your vision of how the non-individual world works and spins its cogs. You can be supremely right on your personal level, but it ceases being correct if at a larger scale most of the imperfect others are different from you. If things should work one way but actually work another. Principles need to take the real world into account. Your perfect attitude might be inappropriate for the imperfect world, you know?

Well you may have something there because enough people have told me this to make me think they may have something… I’ve been told that I look at the world the way I think it ought to be and not how it is.

That would be a good start. Preferably, followed by a dedicated program and plan to rebuild all that was destroyed in their community (and OF their community) by the meddling of the past.

To be honest, I don’t know if that is possible. Some of the damage has been done and can’t be undone. They should have had a Prime Directive in the 15th century! But it’s certainly true to say that there are still a lot of things that could be done. They do seem to drag their feet, though. It’s also not that cut-and-dried – it seems the leadership of many of these communities is corrupt and the money doesn’t seem to trickle down from the top the way it should.

I've read a decent book about this. I know. And Schindler's List showed this quite clearly. It was no State secret...

There are definitely many good books on the subject out there but I think this one is worth a look. I got the title wrong, though. There was a PBS special called Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State. The book by Laurence Rees is called “Auschwitz: A New History.” Here’s a part of the blurb which I think is at the core of what makes it a worthwhile read: “[Rees] consistently offers new insights, drawn from more than 100 interviews with survivors and Nazi perpetrators. He gives a vivid portrait of the behind-the-scenes workings of the camp.”

Anyway, I think that possible both our points of view on this can be true depending on circumstances, and I think that my main objection in the end is that these apologizies can be insincere. If they are sincere I can see how, possible, they could be worthwhile in a symbolic way.

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

"I’ve been told that I look at the world the way I think it ought to be and not how it is."
Yes, otherwise phrased: you should be right, but the majority won't let you.

"Some of the damage has been done and can’t be undone. They should have had a Prime Directive in the 15th century!"
You don't say! :-(
The "discovery" of the American continent has been the single greatest environmental disater and genocide since the existence of Man.
Everybody forgetting at the time that its initial human inhabitants had discovered it 50.000 years earlier. Same for Australia.

"it seems the leadership of many of these communities is corrupt and the money doesn’t seem to trickle down from the top the way it should."
NO! I'm shocked! You'd NEVER see such an indignity in Lebanon. :-P

"There are definitely many good books on the subject out there but I think this one is worth a look."
Noted, thanks.

"I think that my main objection in the end is that these apologizies can be insincere."
Call me a hopeless optimist then. I can't help but give the benefit of doubt to people. Even to politicians and clerics and military people sometimes! I know, it's so silly, but that's me.
I've gotten completely over it for pedophiles and violent husbands, that's a start...

Joe Dick said...

Yes, otherwise phrased: you should be right, but the majority won't let you.

Well, naturally, I still think I’m right. I mean, people will say anything to try to cast doubt on iron-clad Vulcan logic.

I've gotten completely over it for pedophiles and violent husbands, that's a start...

Which is part of the reason I dislike the idea of a government making these apologies. Think of the killing, the rape, the pillage...the whole nine yards. This can be forgiven? I don't see why it should be unforgivable on a small scale (in both numbers and length of time) but forgivable on a large scale. (Kind of similar to Stalin’s "A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic” thang.) And on that small scale, is an apology from some rapist’s grandson to the grandfather’s victim going to have any impact? Well, we could go around and around in circles on this one.

Everybody forgetting at the time that its initial human inhabitants had discovered it 50.000 years earlier. Same for Australia.

I have a problem with this. People don't seem to understand that it was Europeans discovering the place for Europeans - the same as if people from North America had sailed to Europe, they would have discovered it for their own people. The Europeans would say "Hey, we knew it was here!" "Yeah, but we didn't!"

As for the 50,000 years...according to them they have always been there. Nonsense, of course, but there you go.

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

"people will say anything to try to cast doubt on iron-clad Vulcan logic."
Well, your pointy-eared logic is just SO irritating to an imperfect Terran ego! Especially since you guys ARE always right.

"People don't seem to understand that it was Europeans discovering the place for Europeans"
Fully with you there. But why should "the right of discovery" mean that this already inhabited land all of a sudden belonged to the newcomers?
Are we ready to hand the U.S Presidency to the arabs because they were the last ones to immigrate and discover the Land of Opportunities? :-P
Ah, but of course, the Europeans discovered it in the name of God and the Church, so they had the highest authority in the Universe backing their claims to ownership...

"As for the 50,000 years...according to them they have always been there."
Well, as Rodney Dangerfield could've said, "I've been married with her for only two years, and it feels like forever!"
I suppose 50.000 years to a people with only oral tradition is equivalent to "forever".

Some say the number may be 50, 30 or 20.000 years. And the age of the Homo sapiens species is estimated between 50 and 100.000 years.
In a way, it IS "forever". They've been there practically since the dawn of mankind.

Not that it makes those holiday family reunions feel any shorter than 50.000 years to me...

Joe Dick said...

But why should "the right of discovery" mean that this already inhabited land all of a sudden belonged to the newcomers?

I don't think you'd find too many white dudes over here who would say the discovery automatically meant it belonged to them. I don't doubt they thought so at the time. I mean, it was their Christian duty to save these heathens wasn't it?! ;-)

Most people today luckily don't think like that...

However, it's not always so cut-and-dried. As bad as they were, the Spanish in South America did the world a favour by destroying the Aztec Empire. The ordinary people didn't deserve to suffer, and it's not a good thing that all those gold religious treasures were stolen, but still...you can't feel too bad about that empire coming to and end.

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