Thursday, November 30, 2006

Apologising for history

I don’t know what anyone else feels about it, but I think that apologising for things that happened in the past - the distant past - is pretty damn stupid and a complete waste of time. Blair’s “statement of regret” about slavery (never mind the flippancy of the Tory MP) is what I’m referring to.

The thing is, he needn’t apologise for slavery – that was well before even his time and not of his making. What he (and George Dubya Bush) SHOULD be apologising for is the war in Iraq - that was totally unjustified, at the very least for the reasons that World President Bush and World Prime Minister Blair gave for declaring war and invading that country. Weapons of mass destruction, my foot.

That's what they should apologise for - but do you think they would? Hah. Maybe some British leader a couple of hundred years down the line might admit to “deep regret” for the invasion of Iraq – and chances are he wont be a Labour leader. But whether someone makes a near-apology or not in the future, the only thing that will hold true is – it won’t matter! Just like it doesn’t matter now.

Apologies don’t and can’t make up for any of the bloodshed, tears and atrocities. I’m not sure if Germany has apologised for the genocide of Jews but even if it has, would that apology undo history? Would it make the survivors feel all warm and fuzzy and ready to forgive and forget it all? I’m also not sure if Japan apologised to Korea for all the Korean women who were raped and prostituted. But if the apology was made, does anyone suppose that the – again, only the surviving – women would think “Oh good, the Japanese have apologised, this undoes all the humiliation and horror I endured”?

Closer home, how many Hindus or Muslims would be able to forget the murder of their family members in riots merely because the religious/political leader(s) concerned apologised for the violence that they most likely orchestrated in the first place?

Apologies, IMHO, are no good on a wholesale scale, as it were. Apologies are personal, for one-on-one situations between people. They can’t be carried over on a national or international scale because when it comes to that point, the damage that has been caused is at the very least on a scale that affects an entire nation or nations for decades afterwards. Wouldnt it be nice if politicians stopped making fatuous apologies for the past and worked towards making such token actions unnecessary in the present and in the future? Too much to hope for, I suppose.

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