13 September 2006

Apologise, apologise, apologise

A couple of days ago I commented on the mixed reaction to Adriaan Vlok's apology to Frank Chikane for the way he had treated him when he was Minister of Police. My comment was to the effect that it was better for people to apologise for their own misdeeds than for those of other people a long time in the past.

And so my attention was drawn to demands that the Roman Pope apologise for the Inquisition, and that led me to this site, Why Shouldn't the Pope Apologize for the Inquisition?

It seems odd.

Why does it seem so fashionable to demand that some people should apologise for other people's sins, usually in the remote past, where both perpetrators and victims are dead? And yet there is so little sign of apology by living people for their misdeeds against the living, and some even find such things offensive on the rare occasions when it does happen?

Yesterday I went to the archives and had a look at my Security Police file; that was before Vlok was in charge, of course, but it does illustrate the kind of thing he was apologising for. I wouldn't expect him to apologise for that, any more than I would expect him to apologise for the atrocities of Julius Caesar or Genghis Khan or Attila the Hun. Apologies from Kurt Dahlmann, Frans van Zyl and Jurgen Meinert (newspaper editors and proprietor of Windhoek) might be appropriate, though.

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