Balneus

Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Apologies, Patriotism, and what we do next

Posted by Dave Bath on 2008-02-01


It’s worth considering attitudes people take to an apology for the Stolen Generation compared to nationalistic attitudes on Anzac Day (and to a lesser extent, Australia Day).

Those who are wont to take pride in, and assign to themselves, the heroic qualities ANZAC forces displayed nearly a century ago are often the same people who deny the need for a sense of shame, and a national responsibility for the actions and policies of our society a few decades later (and therefore more tightly bound to the current generation).

Others exhibit a converse dichotomy.

Personally, assuming that moral qualities, good and bad, are necessarily inherited across generations makes no sense.

However, rewards, both tangible and intangible, to individuals for their efforts on behalf of others, or the harm they suffered from others, is both logical and necessary.

Just as it is illogical to assign merit to people because they are members of a class (an individual soldier may have engaged in atrocities, or been a coward), it is also illogical to compensate an individual because of their membership of a class (an individual Koori from the Stolen Generation may have been rescued from sexual abuse, or received basic health care otherwise denied).

That all said, I applaud the Rudd government (and those like Turnbull in the opposition) for their actions in this matter.

Mind you, it will be an empty apology if we don’t get something done soon about the disgraceful Human Development Indicator metrics that afflict many in the Koori population: life expectancy, morbidity, educational standards, unrepresentative incarceration etc.

It is pointless and hypocritical to make an apology for the past while doing things now that will deserve another apology in the future.

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