Are Congressional apologies printed on cash or Charmin?


On October 7, The New York Times published a meager briefing, by The Associate Press, “A Symbolic Apology to Indians”, about Congress offering Natives an apology for their behavior (any number of vile offenses).  When I hear about these events, I wonder, “who is supposed to embrace these?”  It reminds me of prior offers to apologize for slavery, which you can also call the African Holocaust.  I think that Congress may have also offered another apology, for having interned Japanese-Americans as WWII was ratcheting up.

Last year, the House Issued An Apology For Slavery.

Geronimo

Geronimo

Personally, when someone says, “I’m sorry,” on my more edgy, less patient, or polite days, I may say, “Well, ok, but frankly if you were, you would try to fix this (whatever it is)  Since you aren’t doing that, I only have your words of remorse.”

I find the resolution – non-binding by the way – ineffective, impotent, and pointless.  Congress waits generations – a century after their constituents’ immoral acts – to do this.

Remorse is the key.  Acting on one’s remorse.  Congress’ apology is a declaration of remorse; one without teeth.  Without action, without an aggressive and consistent strategy to make that remorse a tangible reality, to revert grave wrongs and reverse course, why bother?

Who’s supposed to care?  I’m sure that some African-Americans and some Natives care.  Symbols are nice.  Maybe like gift wrapping.  But then, there has to be something worthwhile inside.   As elders often remind young people, “talk is cheap.”  They’ve offered that bromide for generations.  Now generations after their violences and those of their constituents, Congress issues the wrapping paper without having used it to wrap something.

The Black Snob shared her incisive voice about the slavery version.  And as she writes…”SO WHAT! It’s great that congress can say ‘we are sorry’ for an institution that many of them benefited from. But what does this apology really mean, what does it do?” Her invective is raw, vulgar, to-the-point and dead-on.

Anglos have established that few of them respect or value people of color as peers and equals.  Are the apologies mostly about guilt, or about pacifying, or placating people of color? Those who may forget or ignore their “place” in contemporary North American society?

Questions remain:

What are these Congressional apologies supposed to accomplish…generations after after the act(s)?

Are Anglos supposed to feel good about having given voice to their regrets, to their guilt?

Are Natives, African-Americans, and whomever else is the eventual recipient, supposed to reinvest faith in Congress?

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