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View Diary: Healing, truth and reconciliation in South Africa (163 comments)

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  •  how would it work here? (8+ / 0-)

    I was thinking about this just the other day ... how would truth and reconciliation work in the USA? To address slavery, Native American genocide, and other abuses of the past, is that possible to do in a way that affects the present? It seems obvious now that had a Truth and Reconciliation Council been set up after our Civil War things would be different today but that's pie-in-the-sky. South Africa is a great example and the recent happenings in Australia are good, too. I was also thinking that Germany's post-war leadership did a remarkable job of consciously creating a system that would link Europe economically so that they would be less likely to go to war. Curious how things are in eastern Germany post-reunification.
    Bottom line, I despair over reunifying the South to the rest of the country.

    •  it would start with a full-voiced national (17+ / 0-)

      apology ..and reparations ...and a national commission.

      This is not about the south - I see virulent racism in many parts of the country, including my home county in NY, and slavery was part of NYS history.

      The south still has the largest black population in the U.S.  

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      by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 07:32:34 AM PDT

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    •  theres's the challenge. It's much easier to (10+ / 0-)

      apologize (and acknowledge the necessity of an apology) when the events are recent.

      And while the civil rights movement is hard;y ancient history, slavery is not something anyone alive can talk about first hand.

      This presents the problem of asking (demanding?) that people who "has nothing to do with slavery" apologize for it  - something I don't see happening in this country.

      And worse: the further we get from it, the less likely even enlightened people will see a need to apologize. We can talk about the vestiges of privilege (uh-oh....you know that's not going tone well, even within "progressive" communities, much less the nation at large) and so here we are, pretty much stuck.

      The other thing that struck me about the nations that are doing this: they've all seemingly reached a certain "civilization level". It's almost like Maslow's hierarchy of needs. We here i the US are still fighting for basic survival - health care as a right, family planning as a right, good solid affordable education as a right, a living wage and secure retirement as a right... IMO, we are nowhere NEAR the level necessary in a society to start thinking about "higher aspirations". It's like thinking someone could be concerned about "self-actualization" without knowing where their next meal is coming from. It's backwards and doesn't make sense. We, I'm sad to say, are at the "not knowing where out next meal is coming from" level - literally. We're nowhere near the self-actualization stage of development.

      •  the benefits of slavery are still with us (15+ / 0-)

        including defacto segregation in housing and education, and the prison-industrial complex.

        Those who refuse to look at it would benefit from education. That education won't happen unless it is addressed.

        What is currently happening to Native American children - isn't buried in history (or the rape of Ndn women)

        The nations that are doing this vary in status.  SA certainly does not measure up to the US in terms of distribution of wealth.

        Canada - which has at least started the process - is probably a good comparison - the difference is mainly political system I think.

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        by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 08:01:33 AM PDT

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        •  One point where I beg to differ. Canadians are (3+ / 0-)

          a far more pacific people than Americans. My dad was Canadian, and his brother held the highest non-elected position in Canadian government for 14 years.

          From my earliest visits to Canada, I always breathed a sigh of relief when I entered Canada. The news was less violent. The papers reported less violent incidents. The people were more accommodating of differences, and seemed less put off by them.

          Of course Canadian history towards native peoples has been as bad as that in the US. In Canada both the people and the government don't seem very motivated to correct the underlying error of Canada's "Indian Act".

          But at least Prime Minister Harper has met with First Nation leaders to discuss the Act.

          Kindness is the language the blind can see and the deaf can hear. Mark Twain

          by 4Freedom on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 08:28:11 AM PDT

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          •  I have never lived in Canada (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Yasuragi, 4Freedom, mdmslle

            though I have friends who do - it would be presumptuous for me to speak of a national character.  I have spent time in communities on the border - where there is a lot of back and forth.

            I simply wonder how much of the national character is shaped by the type of electoral process/ system in place.

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            by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 09:33:16 AM PDT

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            •  Good question. Having spent most of the (4+ / 0-)

              summers of my youth in Canada, I noticed early on that the Canadian national holidays didn't have the big veteran's parades, that sports weren't such a big deal - except for hockey! There was a difference in acceptance of differences among people. Differences didn't seem to be so remarked upon north of the border.

              I wouldn't know enough to say anything definitive about any aspect of national character except that Canadians seemed less prone to nationalism, militarism and confrontation than their US counterparts. Whether or not their Parliamentarian form of government underlies any potential differences or not is something history will decide.

              Kindness is the language the blind can see and the deaf can hear. Mark Twain

              by 4Freedom on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 10:58:34 AM PDT

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      •  To a certain degree (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mdmslle

        It is important to be able to recognize what you are looking at.  True, apology and reparations have come in fits and starts, but I think every effort to repair the damage done falls in this category.  Efforts to give advantages to minorities and to improve the economic situation and empower minority communities are that.  I think one should bot discount the meaning of forward looking actions, such as they are.  It may be best to simply create a just society as a way of apologizing.

        I'm not sure in making myself very clear here

        Touch all that arises with a spirit of compassion

        by Mindful Nature on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 12:05:12 PM PDT

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    •  It is rather hard to imagine it happening here... (2+ / 0-)

      Let me preface everything I am about to say with the facts that I would support truth and reconciliation commissions like these looking into many things, including past institutionalized racial discrimination going back to slavery...

      Can you see Obama doin it?  Too bad too because he could really make the case and not just for the obvious.  The speech he gave after the rev wright incident was one of the best I've heard for whatever that's worth.

      The house?  

      The senate?  They can't get 60 votes to keep guns out of the hands of psychopaths...

      Maybe Obama could get an I visitation out of doj.  At a minimum he could go on national tv and apologize on behalf of the entire country.  Or not...

      One day at a time I guess.

      It's a national disgrace.  I agree.

      Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends. - Gandalf the Grey

      by No Exit on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 08:00:04 AM PDT

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      •  Actually I don't think he (9+ / 0-)

        would or should be the person to make the case.  Given the level of raicl animus he faces.  I would have (in the past) liked to see it come from Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton.

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        by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 08:05:34 AM PDT

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        •  Because they're white and southern...? (6+ / 0-)

          I would have loved to have seen that.  A bit of moral redemption following watergate...  But it would be a rare bit of apology.  A lot of pressure would need to be brought to bear to make it worth stirring up a political hornets nest.

          It's telling that the race of the apologizing POTUS is still relevant...

          Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends. - Gandalf the Grey

          by No Exit on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 08:14:35 AM PDT

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          •  actually yes :) (5+ / 0-)

            race still matters here - as much respect as I have for the great civil rights leaders, and for the fact that we elected a black politician to the Presidency, unless this comes from someone who is part of the current white majority it would not be an effective start.

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            by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 08:43:35 AM PDT

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            •  i see. you would like an apology from the (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Denise Oliver Velez, Odysseus

              white power structure that instituted, maintained and (maintains) benefited from to apology.

              the POTUS would be a great vehicle for the delivery of that apology, but, obama is not positioned to deliver an apology on behalf of the white power strucuture no matter how ensconced it he is.

              i disagree a little bit on whether or not it would be an effective start.  it would certainly become a topic of conversation and it would undoubtedly be an official statement from the POTUS condemning past actions and apologizing for them.  throw in a commission and I think an apology by POTUS wouldn't necessarily be such a bad way to start off.  even coming from obama.

              i'm not sure the cesspool that is the rw media is capable of achieving any more outrage on the outrage'o meter so why not give them something to bitch about.

              we've seen obama talk intelligently and honestly about race without any real backlash.  i think it's the type of action that history looks kindly on to the extent he's ego driven.

              anyway, IF it were possible, which it is clearly not, all the better now than later, before changing demographics make it less and less relevant as poor people everywhere, hopefully, join in solidarity without regard for race.

              Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends. - Gandalf the Grey

              by No Exit on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 09:07:00 AM PDT

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              •  I think the backlash against him (9+ / 0-)

                has been huge - the obdurate pigheaded, often openly racist stance the Rs take on anything and everything, demonstrates it to me, no matter how conciliatory the POTUS is, that they are dug in.  

                We have already had great spokespeople (activists -and politicians) for the black, or latino, or ndn, or asian perspectives on injustice.

                Where is a major white elected leader doing so- while in office?

                It hasn't happened yet.  Not saying it won't or can't.  

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                by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 09:24:01 AM PDT

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                •  lbj didn't apologize, but he did say... (8+ / 0-)
                  There is no cause for pride in what has happened in Selma. There is no cause for self-satisfaction in the long denial of equal rights of millions of Americans. But there is cause for hope and for faith in our Democracy in what is happening here tonight. For the cries of pain and the hymns and protests of oppressed people have summoned into convocation all the majesty of this great government--the government of the greatest nation on earth. Our mission is at once the oldest and the most basic of this country--to right wrong, to do justice, to serve man. In our time we have come to live with the moments of great crises. Our lives have been marked with debate about great issues, issues of war and peace, issues of prosperity and depression.

                  But rarely in any time does an issue lay bare the secret heart of America itself. Rarely are we met with a challenge, not to our growth or abundance, or our welfare or our security, but rather to the values and the purposes and the meaning of our beloved nation. The issue of equal rights for American Negroes is such an issue. And should we defeat every enemy, and should we double our wealth and conquer the stars, and still be unequal to this issue, then we will have failed as a people and as a nation. For, with a country as with a person, "what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"

                  There is no Negro problem. There is no Southern problem. There is no Northern problem. There is only an American problem.

                  As a man whose roots go deeply into Southern soil, I know how agonizing racial feelings are. I know how difficult it is to reshape the attitudes and the structure of our society. But a century has passed--more than 100 years--since the Negro was freed. And he is not fully free tonight. It was more than 100 years ago that Abraham Lincoln--a great President of another party--signed the Emancipation Proclamation. But emancipation is a proclamation and not a fact.

                  A century has passed--more than 100 years--since equality was promised, and yet the Negro is not equal. A century has passed since the day of promise, and the promise is unkept. The time of justice has now come, and I tell you that I believe sincerely that no force can hold it back. It is right in the eyes of man and God that it should come, and when it does, I think that day will brighten the lives of every American. For Negroes are not the only victims. How many white children have gone uneducated? How many white families have lived in stark poverty? How many white lives have been scarred by fear, because we wasted energy and our substance to maintain the barriers of hatred and terror?

                  And so I say to all of you here and to all in the nation tonight that those who appeal to you to hold on to the past do so at the cost of denying you your future. This great rich, restless country can offer opportunity and education and hope to all--all, black and white, North and South, sharecropper and city dweller. These are the enemies: poverty, ignorance, disease. They are our enemies, not our fellow man, not our neighbor.

                  And these enemies too--poverty, disease and ignorance--we shall overcome.

                  The real hero of this struggle is the American Negro. His actions and protests, his courage to risk safety, and even to risk his life, have awakened the conscience of this nation. His demonstrations have been designed to call attention to injustice, designed to provoke change; designed to stir reform. He has been called upon to make good the promise of America.

                  And who among us can say that we would have made the same progress were it not for his persistent bravery and his faith in American democracy? For at the real heart of the battle for equality is a deep-seated belief in the democratic process. Equality depends, not on the force of arms or tear gas, but depends upon the force of moral right--not on recourse to violence, but on respect for law and order.

                  And I'll let you in on a secret--I mean to use it. And I hope that you will use it with me.

                  This is the richest, most powerful country which ever occupied this globe. The might of past empires is little compared to ours. But I do not want to be the president who built empires, or sought grandeur, or extended dominion.

                  I want to be the president who educated young children to the wonders of their world. I want to be the President who helped to feed the hungry and to prepare them to be taxpayers instead of tax eaters. I want to be the President who helped the poor to find their own way and who protected the right of every citizen to vote in every election. I want to be the President who helped to end hatred among his fellow men and who promoted love among the people of all races, all regions and all parties. I want to be the President who helped to end war among the brothers of this earth.

                  sorry for the long quotes.  i hadn't read this speech before.  i found it quite inspirational, and not a little ironic given his war legacy...

                  link to speech

                  Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends. - Gandalf the Grey

                  by No Exit on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 09:56:36 AM PDT

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                  •  LBJ's life is a study in classical tragedy. (5+ / 0-)

                    What he accomplished domestically has long been overshadowed by his catastrophic foreign policy toward Vietnam. It is still reverberating for us all that we did not have the gains alone.
                    I highly, highly recommend the Robert Caro multi-volume biography of LBJ. They're long, detailed, and written in a rather baroque style--but Caro does a brilliant job of capturing LBJ's contradictions. (And he does a very fine job of placing him and his political career into context.)

                    Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

                    by peregrine kate on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 10:08:14 AM PDT

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                  •  LBJ did move us forward (6+ / 0-)

                    on civil rights - no doubt about it.

                    I agree with PK that the Vietnam War and his involvement. I think it created an impossible barrier for him.

                    Though I was never an Edwards supporter, for a long list of reasons better not rehashed here, had he become President (without baggage) he could have probably pulled off the apology.  But all of this is speculative and historical fiction.

                    heh.

                    I hope we have a future that will embrace this.

                     

                    Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

                    by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 10:15:10 AM PDT

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                  •  Precisely that (3+ / 0-)

                    This notion of keeping the promise of equality and freedom as the way to set right the wrongs is said here better than I could.  

                    Touch all that arises with a spirit of compassion

                    by Mindful Nature on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 12:10:21 PM PDT

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    •  We have two U.S. examples (8+ / 0-)

      Of the Truth & Reconciliation (TRC) process.

      The first was the Greensboro TRC, to address racial injustice and healing, which presented its final report in 2006.

      The second was just convened in February here in Maine. The Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth & Reconciliation Commission will spend several years listening to stories of children being removed from homes and tribes to be placed in boarding schools and in white foster homes. These practices, designed for the expressed purpose of "dealing with the 'Indian problem' through assimilation" (one school founder's mission was to "kill the Indian and save the man"), were begun in the 1800s and still continue to impact tribes  today, despite passage of the Indian Child Welfare Act.

      This Commission is a joint effort of the State of Maine, the Aroostook Band of Micmacs, the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, the Passamaquoddy Tribe (2 locations) and the Penobscot Indian Nation. Its work is already unprecedented, as the first TRC to be used by tribal nations, and as the first to be the result of collaboration between a state and tribal nations.

      I send blessings to the Commission and all those who will share their stories and await their findings, with a sense of grief that it is necessary and gratitude that it's happening.

      "Diversity is, in action, the sometimes painful awareness that other people, other races, other voices, other habits of mind have as much integrity of being, as much claim on the world as you do." William Chase

      by Maine Islander on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 10:45:16 AM PDT

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