Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Australia's Prime Minister Apologizes to Aborigines

In a momentous statement, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made a public apology to the indigenous people of Australia for how they have been treated throughout history. In my opinion, this is the type of thing that the United States would be wise to do as well. Though a public apology for the near genocide of Native Americans and the enslavement of Africans would not erase these atrocities, it would be a step in the right direction.

You can read a USA Today report on this historic apology here.

Lori and I watched a movie recently that dealt with "The Stolen Generations." Check out Rabbit Proof Fence if you're interested.

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Charles Letterman said...

The Australian government has made a formal apology for the past wrongs caused by successive governments on the indigenous Aboriginal population. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, apologised to all Aborigines for laws and policies that "inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss". But the Aborigines want more. They want money and are calling the apology a 'cut-price sorry'.

Back in 1998, in a meeting with Tony Blair, the Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto offered "an expression of deep remorse and heartfelt apology to the people who suffered in the Second World War". But Britain's war veterans wanted more. They had been hoping for an apology from the entire government as well as further compensation on top of that received in 50 years ago.

Two years ago Tony Blair expressed his "deep sorrow" for Britain's role in the slave trade. But representitives of those with ancestors victimised by the slavery wanted a formal apology (which Blair ruled out) and, of course, financial compensation.

So what's the point? Most country's governments have been violent and oppressive at some time in their history. Where does the guilt stop?

In fact, all of these apologies are meaningless. The groups are obviously resigned to their martyrdom, and nothing short of a financial pay-out will really satisfy them. And no modern day leader has the right to apologise for wrongs committed by previous generations anyway, however horrific.

My suggestion is that these powerful governments concentrate on dealing with the poverty and oppression happening around the world this very minute, rather than worrying about past misdemeanours that are cemented into history, and impossible to correct.


sal :)- said...

As an australian, that has previously lived in the United States, i have to disagree with your comments.

It is the opinion of many Australians that the current government has no need to appologise, nor should it be considered appropriate that they do. The Stolen Generation is absolutly a dark spot in our country's history, dont get me wrong at all, and as modern day Australians, we are very sorry for what they went through, however in my opinion, Mr. Rudd has no right nor need to appologise for actions not his own.
For the more sceptical of us, it is easy to view the whole event of whats being dubbed 'sorry day' as a political stunt undertaken by a new government already set to fail the Australian people through unattainable election 'promises'

being just slightly familiar, admitadly, with the situation many indigenous americans are in, i feel their are many other courses of action that would yield more positive results for the native Australian people, that likewise would be of benifit to the Native American peoples as well.

just a thought :)