Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Sorry Is Not The Hardest Word

The idea of the Australian Prime Minister apologising to the Aboriginal population for his countrymen’s former misdeeds has been a bit of a contentious subject amongst bloggers from the land down under.
The question is should today’s leaders say sorry for the actions of their forefathers? Place me firmly in the 'hell yeah' camp.
Who would begrudge saying sorry for what the Aussie PM, Kevin Rudd, called the "profound suffering, grief and loss" inflicted on them by decades of abuse and mistreatment.
It is fair to say that the children's children of those who performed such injustice have nothing to apologise for considering they were not even born at the time, but the act of saying sorry is merely window dressing. The underlying message is that we acknowledge what our ancestors did was wrong, recognise the appalling way we treated you and most importantly, give assurances that it will never happen again.
Former Prime Minister John Howard refused to offer the apology, saying the current generation should not be blamed for past misdeeds. Rudd made an apology part of his election manifesto and true to his word, he delivered on his promise with the shameful realisation that
"It's taken us 41 parliaments to get here. Sometimes we are a bit slow."
Hopefully it may start a trend because my own country has a lot of people to say sorry to.


The Fez Monkey said...

Hey, Lucy -

Put me in the list of those who think the apology is a good idea. Not because it's a feel-good thing, or because of any sense of responsibility of the current generation to sins of the past - but mainly because it simply acknowledges the unfair and (often) racially-based suffering of one group of people at the hands of another.

The PM of Oz apologizing is not a sign or weakness or of PC coddling. And yes, it could also be accomplished by him saying that he acknowledges that Australia was built in large part on the murder of and robbery from the indiginous population. But an apology also says that it was wrong, and that we do realize the moral implications of it. There's nothing implicit or explicit about continued responsibility or blame.

Many (not all, mind you) who are quick to criticize this sort of apology would be aghast if anyone dared say an official German apology for the holocaust was useless and silly. But it wouldn't be, and neither is this.

But then, maybe I'm just naive.

Ook ook

ruth said...

I just posted on this too. There has been a lot of bigotry expressed on blogs about it. I agree with you.

Lucy said...

I was quite cynical when Rudd mentioned it as part of his election campaign, mainly because it was the opposite of what Howard was saying but got to hand it to him, he kept his word against some strong opposition.
Can't see how saying sorry can ever be negative, it can only ever help.

iMuslim said...

I agree with Fez, in that, it's a good way of reinforcing the fact that those actions were incorrect, and kinda holds the government to account to make sure they don't repeat the sins of their fathers.

But as ever, actions speak louder than words; so I hope there are actually initiatives in place to the assist the aborigines, cos I think they still have it quite bad compared to the white population.

Cheezy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cheezy said...

Some of the comments that I've seen opposing the apology have even suggested that the arrival of the white man did nothing but good for the indigenous population of Australia!

Erm, give me a yell when you return to planet Earth, fellas!

Lucy said...

I have seen them also and found them almost laugable, almost because it is quite scary that people actually think like that.

David G said...

It certainly has been a big thing in my country. Whether the Australian people accept it is another question especially when the first court case for compensation has just been actioned.

Lawyers may end up being the real beneficiaries! Cheers.