Feb 12, 2008

Both Late and Sorry: Australia Apolgizes to Her Native Peoples

The Christian Science Monitor announced,

Australia to apologize to Aborigines for injustice: how helpful?

The "how helpful?" part makes me crazy. In the early 20th century,

Based on the premise that "full-blood" Aborigines were a race headed for extinction, up to 100,000 mixed-race children were taken from their parents between 1910 and 1970. The children, some of them babies, were often snatched from sobbing mothers by policemen or government officials.

Homes were torn apart. Children were wrenched from their families and put into foster care by strangers. Short of actually committing genocide, the cruelty the aboriginal families suffered is hard to imagine. And the writer of the article above questions whether a public apology would be helpful. Well, if you mean, as in fixing the cruelty, increasing the life expectancy of the native population, improving their poverty and living conditions, then, no, an apology would not be helpful like that directly.

But indirectly, an apology is huge. And an apology is the only first step to take. Forget passing judgment—it was judgment that caused the crazed policy in the first place. Get cracking with the "We're sorry for the wrongs we caused," Australian government officials. You have a lot to start making up for.

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