Sunday, July 27, 2014

Protecting the Guilty—on History Issues, What Else?

A post on a public forum included the following amusing proposition, which touched off the subsequent exchange between me and a real live human being, a friend whose name will go unmentioned here. (I’ve always wondered why you have to “protect the innocent.” After all, it is the guilty who need the most protection if they are to remain useful sources, no?)

“It is interesting to compare how Okinawa came to [be] incorporated into Japan with the overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom in 1893, abetted by a company of U.S. marines. On the centennial of this event, the U.S. issued a formal apology, in a joint resolution of Congress that was also signed by Bill Clinton. The apology ‘acknowledges that the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii occurred with the active participation of agents and citizens of the United States and further acknowledges that the Native Hawaiian people never directly relinquished to the United States their claims to their inherent sovereignty as a people over their national lands, either through the Kingdom of Hawaii or through a plebiscite or referendum.’”

“Very interesting. So, if you really, really apologize, you don't have to give anything back? (Just let them have a few casinos, if they happen to be genocide/ethnic cleansing survivors?) I'm sure Mr. Abe will be delighted to hear that.”

“Yes you're right, but the key to this is the politics.  Some genocides have zero political cost because all the victims are dead. Other far less serious crimes generate problems due to the circumstances of the deed. I'm afraid that what the PM fails to see. It's not about morality, it's about efficiency.”

“‘...because all the victims are dead...’

Sufficient, but not necessary; you only have to own them. Americans don't have to worry about Native Americans because, hey, they're Americans. Likewise, the Chinese with their Uighurs/Tibetans et al, we Japanese and our Ainu, the Spaniards Basque... The list goes on.

Yes, the Spanish have to worry about the Catalonians and the British about the Scots--but they wouldn't have to if they were willing to kill them all. Israel and the Palestinians fall somewhere in between, like 19th century America.”

Yes it helps to own the corpse. But generally if you've killed them all you end up owning their land.

As a dying Spanish general reportedly told the priest who asked him, while administering the last rites of the Church, to pardon all his enemies: ‘Father, I have no enemies.  I killed them all.’”

“‘Father, I have no enemies.  I killed them all.’

Kim Jong Un can only dream.”

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