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View Diary: When a nation says, 'We are sorry.' (238 comments)

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  •  Your cynicism (whether feigned or real) is one (15+ / 0-)

    of the reasons genuine apologies, like the one clearly delivered by Julia Gillard, are so disturbingly rare. The combination of ridicule over the often small degree of substantive change and ginned-up outrage that contemporary citizens are tarnished with "historical" wrongs has worked wonders in suppressing or eviscerating such apologies.

    I remember the fuss generated by Bill Clinton's Africa tour in 1998 and the prospect that he would offer an apology for slavery. Well he did go and as this Guardian article points out sort of apologized for slavery - in Uganda rather than Sierra Leone where he had visited one of the slaving forts.

    I don't really remember the "apology" so much as an editorial in the Seattle PI where the paper took back its earlier dismissal of the importance of apologizing. The reason - the foamingly rabid reaction of the right to the prospect of an apology, and possible consequent pressure to actually do something substantive as a result.

    These apologies are clearly NOT easy to deliver, and even if the initial action is disappointing the genuine recognition they confer is needed by all who value dignity. But it has to be a genuine recognition, which Julia Gillard admirably provided, and Bill Clinton demonstrably failed to do.

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