Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Time to Say Sorry

The Australia government has officially apologized to Australia's indigenous peoples, the aborigines:
For the pain, suffering and hurt of these stolen generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.

To the mothers and fathers, the brothers and sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.

- Australia's new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd
The phrase "stolen generations" refers specifically to mixed race aborigine children who were taken away from their families and made wards of the state, supposedly for their own protection. Phillip Noyce's heart-breaking movie Rabbit Proof Fence portrays the life of one such individual, Molly Craig, whose daughter, Doris Pilkington Garimara, wrote a memoir detailing her experience.

Maine's Morning Sentinel asks why is so hard for people to apologize without qualification. I often wonder, why is apologizing considered a sign of weakness, not a sign of civility? Some people bear the mantra "Never apologize" as a badge of honor. Seems especially the case in our society.

As far as I know, the United States has never officially apologized to the Native Americans for past government misdeeds, nor to African Americans for slavery, though resolutions have been presented to Congress. Under Reagan in 1988, the United States did officially apologize to Japanese-American detainees and presented them each with a $20,000 check. Republican Senator Sam Brownback also recently introduced an amendment to the Indian healthcare bill that would formally apologize to the Native Americans.

Video of Kevin Rudd's apology

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