Sorry Day Logic. If only the Holocaust victims were so compliant…

19 02 2008

Anbrew Bolt’s blog reader John Comnenus puts forward a very well argued case about why apology to Stolen Generations is either insincere or grossly inadequate for the crime.

If one accepts the ‘stolen generation’ then the sorriest element of the apology is surely its logic. Stealing children to destroy a culture is genocide as the ‘Bringing them Home’ Report stated. The apologist’s implicitly accept the genocide argument but fail to respond adequately.

The logic of the apology is that our forebears were either party to, or beneficiaries of, genocide. We therefore owe the victims real justice. The minimum standard of justice required is:

1. Identify who perpetrated this genocide? Given that some instances were comparatively recent a criminal investigation should identify and charge any living perpetrators?

2. All political parties, public services and public organisations need to expunge any positive commemoration of the historic figures responsible for genocide. An inquiry should determine which historical figures were responsible for genocide. For example, Windshuttle argues, that Premier McKell was responsible for the Stolen Generation enabling legislation in NSW. The ‘McKell’ building in McKell Place is a significant NSW Govt building. If he is responsible for genocide these places should be renamed. It is cruel to the victims to honour a perpetrator of their genocide. No self respecting person wants to work in a building named after such evil. All positive commemorations of every perpetrator of genocide must be removed from any public place, building, electorate name, lecture hall, or anywhere else.

3. The victims deserve commemoration and significant compensation. You can’t genuinely apologise for the worst possible crime with ‘sorry’ and ‘lets move on’. The crime is too significant. A proper apology entitles victims to criminal compensation by successfully prosecuting the perpetrators.

4. Once the first three steps are complete we can understand how this genocide came about and learn how to ensure it never happens again.

I am not aware of any genocide victim group that has so readily ‘moved on’ after a statement of sorrow. Nor do I know of any self acknowledging genocide perpetrator that has offered such paltry and cynical remorse. These steps seem to be the minimum to atone for the genocide we apologised for. An apology can’t help reconcile culprits and victims unless the former is willing to help repair the damage done to the latter. If I accidentally break my neighbour’s window I apologise, help clean up and buy a replacement. However an apology for a deliberate act demands more, it needs justice, punishment and compensation to be genuine. A murderer can’t be let off because he apologises. Genocide is worse than murder so an apology can’t possibly equate with justice. Justice must be done and be seen to done.

Aboriginals appear willing to accept either an apology or an apology with compensation? Surely some Aboriginals are so upset that their whole race and culture was subjected to attempted extermination that they want the perpetrators punished by the courts – that is to see justice done. The moral inconsistencies in the logic of the apology lead to a number of possible conclusions:

a. the apology isn’t genuine;

b. the apologisers knows there is no real basis for the apology;

c. the victims are incapable of seeking justice through proper courts; and

d. the victims know that they can’t prove a case beyond reasonable doubt in court.

The sorriest element of this whole saga is that there are genuine reasons to apologise and compensate. For example, not counting aboriginals in the census or giving them the vote until the 1967 (Liberal Party initiated) referendum implicitly denied both their full humanity and citizenship. These were disgusting policies, however they aren’t attempted genocide. Because the apology doesn’t follow through to its logical conclusion it isn’t genuine and, as this becomes obvious to all, it will lead to deeper community division…

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