When are national apologies a good idea?

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, noting that lately Mexico has been demanding an apology from Spain for colonialism.  Here is one bit:

Some features of good apologies are sincerity, overall compatibility with what the apologizer now stands for in other contexts, and a broad social willingness to accept that something indeed has been settled for the better.

And:

OK, so how about Spain and Mexico? I am skeptical of this proposed apology, partly because it seems like a political maneuver by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to garner political support and distract from his likely failure to successfully reform Mexico’s economy. The current Spanish government also is not a close descendant of the conquistadors, as it is a full-blown democracy and the conquest was almost 500 years ago. One can acknowledge the massive injustices of the history without thinking that current Spanish citizens necessarily should feel so guilty. And (until recently) Spain-Mexico relations have not been problematic, so it is not clear exactly what problem this apology is supposed to solve.

The current demand for an apology is a distraction from the enduring injustice of Mexico’s segregation. If Spaniards found their own reasons for wishing to apologize, that would be a good result. But on this demand, they are correct to give it a pass.

I also consider the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and Rwanda.

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Only a great statesman can correct a nation's course. Only President Captain Bolsonaro could, against all odds, have gone to Israel.

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Dammit how are we going to wring an apology out of Spain if we can’t even get one from Jussie Smollett?

Is Jussie Smollet one of those 3 Mexican countries?

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Probably Lopez Obrador has more "Conquistadores" blood than the median Spanish citizen.

Descenders of "Conquistadores" continued to rule Latin America long after independence.

I know.

What I really really want to know is when Aztec descendants are going to apologize to various Mexica and "indijina" descendants for the blood tributes of old.

The Tzompantli isn't necessarily unforgiveable, but the child sacrifices to Xipe Totec (The Flayed Lord) might be. But you never know until you ask!!!

+1

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What is the statute of limitations on apologies? Why shouldn't Iraq and other Arab countries demand an apology from Mongolia for Genghis Khan's invasions? Should France apologize to England for the Norman invasion? Where does it stop?

Well. The English also owe the French an apology for the Hundred Years War.

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I liked an historian’s analogy I read, that it’s like France asking for an apology from Italy for Julius Caesar invading Gaul.

France, Germany, England, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, and 30 other countries should ask apology from Italy from being occupied by Rome for several centuries. Also, northern and southern Italy should ask apology from central Italy (Latium, the original core alliance of city-states that formed the Roman Empire) for the same reason.

Romans should ask for an apology from Greece for sacking Troy

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On this subject you should read the excellent book by Jennifer Lind at Dartmouth University, the wonderfully titled, Sorry States: Apologies in International Politics.

http://www.cornellpress.cornell.edu/book/?GCOI=80140100083010

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Unpopular opinion: colonialism is not the worst thing ever. Mexico is probably better off given colonialism than no colonialism. Obviously, many bad things happened without the consent of the indigenous population, though there have been enormous benefits.

Today, a good and popular idea put forth by this blog is Charter Cities where first world governance (i.e. Canada) is introduced in a small region of a third world country (i.e. Honduras). This is basically neo-Colonialism with consent by the host country government (and not necessarily the people of that country/region). Doesn't sound too different than colonialism, though it has quite a bit of support given the long run benefits (look at Singapore, Hong Kong, or Dubai if you have a loose enough definition). You would just avoid marketing Charter Cities as neo-Colonialism given the unpopularity of the idea.

That first paragraph is all wrong. The natives were much better off under the peaceful, benevolent hand of the Aztecs.

I know right?

Also, the Chichen Itza'ens where much better off under the dominance and oversight of the religious rulers of Teotihuacan, but they received their 'mandate' only after telling the Olmecs to 'piss off' (they received an apology btw).

As an aside, everyone should've accepted the rule of the various Khanates and the iron rule of the 'Golden Horde' across Eurasia and all of ASEAN should realize and recognize the cultural fealty they owe China and accept their annexation of the Paracel and Spratly islands.

It is after all only fair.

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" Unpopular opinion: colonialism is not the worst thing ever. Mexico is probably better off given colonialism than no colonialism"

There may be cases where there was very little good that came from colonialism (Congo, maybe), but Mexico is such a mixture of native and colonial it would be a completely different place without colonialism. Moreover, it's so far from clear that pre-colonial conditions were worse than what came after (did most people like living under the Aztecs?) that I almost like Spain should be demanding a thank you from its former colony.

Rather strikes me as the case of an ungrateful child blaming everything wrong with his adult life on some parent's mildly flawed parenting method.

Jeff R. beat me to it due to pithiness.

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+1

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European colonialism was largely limited to the Western Hemisphere, the Antipodes, Southern Africa, some fragments of the Arab world. Other places had the status of dependency, but the European population was a small and rotating collection of civil servants and soldiers.

The parts of the world which were never dependencies of European powers (China, for the most part; Japan bar the post-war occupation; Korea; Thailand; Afghanistan; Turkey; Ethiopia bar the peri-war occupations; Yemen, Oman, Saudi Arabia) are all over the map as far as quality of life's been concerned.

Interesting remark. But there might be a selection bias in your data. Countries which were not colonized were not selected by chance, but likely because they were more difficult than other to colonize, because for instance of their old unity, old culture, large size or large population, relatively strong economy. China is the most obvious example: extremely large, extremely populated, very homogenous ethnically, with an extremely old culture tying the country together. Some of the same apply (less strongly) to Japan, Korea, maybe Ethiopia and Thailand and Iran too. Ottoman Turks have been a major military power since about 1000 years and still are (Turkey lost most of its European territories before WW1, but in WW1 itself they did well even if they were on the loser side, and since then they have won all their wars). So we should expect stronger, not average, performance from these countries.

Joel: So we should expect stronger, not average, performance from these countries.

Sure about that? Maybe we should expect weaker, if they're regressing to a mean they skipped in the era where Western Europeans were full of colonizing spirit.

The non-colonization of China probably does reflect relative strength in 1780-1850 (Opium War indemnities notwithstanding). By the time the country had begun to seriously decline in the late 19th century, it probably wasn't worth colonizing; think of the decline in relative economic size of India and China during the 18th and 19th centuries. Not worth the blood.

India and SE Asia hit a sweet spot where they were colonizable (the value of the spice and cotton trade) and worth colonizing (the collapse of authority in India and the military backwardness of SE Asia), while China was just impractical enough to colonize get to the point where it was fairly worthless to colonize.

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"Mexico is probably better off given colonialism than no colonialism. " is hard to make sense of to me because Mexico in its current form is entirely the product of colonial society - it's a wholly remade people and society from what was before the Spanish. The Mexico that exists today can't be said to be a better or worse future of what came before, rather its a total replacement.

Sort of like talking about whether Britain would be better off in some extreme scenario where population was 60% replaced by migrants in from rest of world. Maybe the resulting society is richer or poorer, but there's no continuous nation or entity there that can really be said to be better off or worse off - instead there was one thing and now there's another.

Spain is continuous enough that you can say whether it is better or worse off than would've been the case without colonialism, and probably the most likely thing is that it the effect is all washed out and not very significant. But that's rather a different question.

'where population was 60% replaced by migrants in from rest of world'

Careful on that one, as noted by wikipedia - 'Other potentially important historical periods of migration which have been subject to consideration in this field include the introduction of Celtic languages and technologies (during the Bronze and Iron Ages), the Roman era, the period of Gaelic influx, the period of Anglo-Saxon influx, the Viking era, the Norman invasion of 1066 and the era of the European wars of religion.' https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_history_of_the_British_Isles Obviously not all of them were of the same scale, but a fair case can be made that the England of era X (2000BCE, 360 CE, 1100 CE to name three) involved the replacement of its culture by significant numbers of migrants. And yet, we all pretend that the England of 100 CE is the same group of people as those of England 1900 CE. Odd how that works, actually.

But this is probably far enough back in the past to be easily ignored- 'Mesolithic Britons were closely related to other Mesolithic people throughout Europe, but Neolithic individuals are close to Iberian and Central European Middle Neolithic populations, modelled as having about 75% ancestry from Anatolian farmers with the rest coming from Western hunter-gatherers (WHG) in continental Europe.'

Not to mention this - 'There is evidence to suggest that a Indo-European population from the continent, originating ultimately from the steppes, occupied Britain in the early Bronze Age. It is claimed that ~90% of the Neolithic gene pool of early Bronze Age Britain was replaced between 2,400 BC and 2,000 BC by a population characterised by the Bell Beaker culture, which originated in the lower Rhine area.'

And strangely, this group of people were also migrants - 'Anglo Saxon Settlement included significant population turnover, with recent studies estimating 30-40% depending on the region of Britain.'

Why "be careful"?

I've got no problem with the idea that the English people past the Anglo-Saxon migration were enough not the same people as those of Roman Britain before that there are the same problems with the meaning of "Anglo-Saxon migration made Britain better" as with the Mexican analogy. Certainly the Anglo-Saxon migration was good for the Anglo-Saxons and probably bad for the Britons, but to talk about it being good "for Britain" is somewhat meaningless.

Who's pretending that Roman Brits were "the same people"?

On the other hand, I would probably reject that the reign of the Norman aristocracy was significant enough of a replacement of a people to make a similar question meaningless about the Norman conquest...

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"I also consider the United States, ..."

Should the US demand an apology from Spain also?

REMEMBER THE MAINE!

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No, obviously the dastardly British should finally apologize to all living Americans for inflicting colonialism on them 400 years ago

I won't be the first or last to note Mexico demand for apology is sort of bizarre given who its coming from. Like Elizabeth Warren demanding recompense from Theresa May for her responsibility for colonizing Warren's ancestors... (Bizarre, *and* unfortunately a kind of satire that it is all too easy to imagine becoming reality...).

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An apology means nothing without some substantial change in the relationship. While legal slavery, gone in the US for over 150 years, is a topic of daily discussion and a continuing search for remediation, the plight of the native Americans, the object of a national policy of extermination, is hardly a concern. Here's a good example.

There was no such policy except in your imagination. Doesn't stop you lying every chance you can get.

'Remediation' won't be helpful to blacks or red Indians. Helpful to blacks would be vigorous law enforcement in slum neighborhoods, serious primary and secondary schooling (which is going to require sequestering incorrigibles, fixed standards, and rebalancing between academic and vocational schooling), and amendments to the tax regime and land use law in slum neighborhoods. Helpful to red Indians would be social work programs to get them off the bottle.

+1

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Well, there was a period when the buffalo were deliberately hunted to near extinction with the hope of starving out the remaining plains indians. I don't know that much about it, but it seems to me the reservations probably encourage continued poverty rather than allaying it.

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One needs no imagination to be aware of the US policy toward native Americans, it's a matter of record. It's hardly lying to point out actual events whose occurrence is uncontested. There's probably a psychological term for the malady of refusal to accept disgusting truths about the history of one's nation state. Be that as it may, it doesn't change reality.

You really shouldn't offer links which don't substantiate your thesis. You're in a hole. Quit digging.

Every conflict between the Euro-hypocrites and the aboriginal Americans took place on the home ground of the latter. There were no battles between them in New York City, Boston or Philadelphia. The soldiers of the enlightenment had no desire to convince the natives that moving along was in their best interest, their technique was to kill them near their homes and take possession of the property.

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There you go again, talking up the social workers. What got into you, Art?

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Surely Russia has the hottest hand for immediate apology.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/31/world/europe/russian-assassinations-putin-ukraine.html

What, crickets from the "lol Russia!" crowd?

I guess that's better than the bad old days when you'd tell me Trump's love for Putin was just rational realpolitik.

From ‘Trump is a Manchurian candidate’ to ‘Trump isn’t sufficiently anti-Russia’ in 7 days.

You’re either a 1000 SAT score CSU graduate, but I repeat myself, or a Ukrainian.

Hilarious either way, keep it up.

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I don't think it makes sense for the US to demand an apology from Great Britain for colonizing us, for the Boston Massacre, and for taxing our tea without proper representation in Parliament. It happened a long time ago, and it's time to move forward. Letting bygones be bygones sets a good example for the rest of the world.

I thought the FBI blamed the Boston Massacre on two Chechen brothers.

As for taxing tea, recall that it was a massive reduction in the tax on tea that led to the Boston tea-party, because the outraged tea smugglers could no longer earn a dishonest living.

The US, however, should probably apologise to the Canadian descendants of those Loyalists who were ethnically cleansed from the new USA.

(I wouldn't call it "ethnic cleansing" myself, but it does satisfy this definition: 'Ethnic Cleansing is the deliberate and systematic removal of a racial, political, or cultural group from a specific geographical area.')

Of course the Canadians are probably far too grown up to be bothered about such immature rubbish.

You are half-right about the tea. The other half of the story is the rricans were REQUIRED to buy English tea during to overproduction of tea in India. There were many other grievances as well. At the end of the "Seven Years War" Americans were looking forward to expanding went into lands "liberated" from the French and their Indian allies. Instead, the Brits signed a treaty that prohibited the Americans from moving into that land. Again, just one more grievance.

The future Patriots were, in the main, proud to be British citizens and were loyal to the king, believing he was being controlled by evil doers. All that was proved false when the King went before Parliament in October (?) 1775 to ask for money to escalate the war. Despite some impassioned opposition and brilliant speeches, Parliament voted overwhelmingly to send a massive expedition to America to kill their fellow British citizens.

The Patriots were loyal to the King and considered themselves British right up until the Battle of Bunker Hill in June 1775 ( it was actually Breeds Hill, but whatever). The defacto leader of the Patriots and likely first POTUS, Joseph Warren, held out hope for a settlement, even after Lexington/Concord in April 1775, right up until he was killed on Bunker (Breeds) Hill. His body was mutilated, his clothing stolen, and he was buried in place.

Boston had long been blockaded by land by the Patriots. After Washington was chosen as general of the new Continental Army after Bunker Hill, Henry Knox, a 27 yo self-educated ( there were no fancy pantsed credentialed eggheads involved) Boston bookseller, led a winter expedition to the recently vanquished Fort Ticoderoga to haul the fort's cannons down the frozen lakes - it was during the Little Ice Age - and over the Berkshire Mountains. You have to experience a modern globally warmed winter in thoseountains to appreciate that accomplishment. Its hard to believe anyone could do that, but they did it. The cannons were installed in a fort built overnight on Dorchester Heights - a position overlooking the city of Boston. The next day the Patriots conducted a fake cannonade of the shocked British Army. The Brits didn't realize the Patriots had a severe shortage of gunpowder - the reason the Patriots "lost" (another story) the Battle of Bunker Hill. The occupation of Dorchester Heights was an American Dien Bien Phu. The Brits negotiated a withdrawal from Boston - if the Patriots wouldn't harass the fleeing British military and it's 100+ ships, the Brits wouldn't burn the city. Nice guys those Brits. All agreed and the British retreated to Halifax (?), bringing the dejected and newly poor loyalsts with them. The loyalists could have stayed, some did and, though reviled by the Patriots, they were not killed.

The loyalist chose to leave - there was no genocide.

The loyalists were mostly people connected to global trade by sea, of course, in Boston but especially in New York, where the new Continental army suffered near catastrophic defeats - after the British abonded Boston and later occupied New York with it's deep harbors and the warship friendly Hudson River - helped by the information given by loyalists to the British army.

The rural areas around the cities were dominated by Patriots. The globalist loyalists, as previously stated, were in the cities. The loyalists were more loyal to money and global trade than to their fellow Americans. Doesn't that sound familiar?

At some point in a civil war it becomes impossible to remain neutral - you have to choose a side.

The loyalists chose the wrong side.

The rest is history.

Brits and Americans were the same thing, British subjects. A British treaty with anyone is the law for all British, no matter where they lived. Violations of treaty terms are illegal, just like entering a country without legal sanction. Or importing from Mexico aluminum pallets cast in China. Some residents of British America were indeed patriots. Others, those who eventually made up the Continental Army and the nascent governments, were, by definition, traitors, not patriots.

Sort of. The Patriots and their ancestors had lived free in North America for 160+ years up to the Boston Massacre. If it was truly a British colony it was treated with benign neglect by the crown. Though British ships were a sort of cultural lifeline to GB, the Americans were largely self ruled for around 150 years, certainly until the Seven Years War. When they compared themselves to the Indians or the French, they thought of themselves as British. Over time, the crown exerted more control over America, essentially colonizing the descendants of the original settlers, whose population had exploded by the birth rate, and not immigration. It slowly dawned on them that they were a very different people from the British. The Americans were, on average 2 inches taller ( irrelevant but interesting), literate ( the working class Brits we're mostly illiterate), much more religious, and mostly self-employed land owing farmers (~80%) and artisans. They ruled themselves and made decisions in townhall meetings. Rural New England, including my hometown, still has many of those original Town Halls. They elected their own leaders for well over one hundred years until GB started to send in alien unelected, GB selected governors and civil servants, another grievance.

They were very different people.

Read the classic Vexed and Troubled Englishmen, 1590-1642, Carl Bridenbaugh's study of the subject written in 1967. The bulk of the English immigrants to the New World were protestant Roundheads repelled by the licentiousness and drunkeness of Stuart England and disgust with popery and even the Anglican church. These people were from the same religious stock that produced Oliver Cromwell and his New Model Army that devastated both the Cavaliers of England and the Irish during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. They also showed no mercy to the native Americans, were the impetus for the American Revolution and their progeny were the architects of the War Between the States. Puritan protestants liked to kill people. While the details of their theology have to some extent faded from American culture, their enthusiasm for the death of strangers continues to thrive even today, their sacred bloody finger prints having been left in every corner of the planet.

Much of what you wrote is true. It took Roger Williams to plant the seed of freedom of thought and kindness and fairness toward the Indians.

Sadly, the destruction of English settlements and the accompanying attrocities during King Phillips War turned many of the Americans into vengeful Indian haters.

I think you are over the top here:

"...their enthusiasm for the death of strangers continues to thrive even today, their sacred bloody finger prints having been left in every corner of the planet."

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EdR:The other half of the story is the Americans were REQUIRED to buy English tea during to overproduction of tea in India.

I have never heard the like of this before; conventionally the sources claim that production of tea in India begun only after the 1780s (after the American Revolutionary War), on a large scale only in the early 19th century. Nor that anyone was forced to buy tea (how would this be done?).

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What about for The Beetles?

Cancelled out by the Spice Girls.

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I suppose everyone is entitled to an apology from somebody; and everybody is guilty of something that deserves an apology. What's needed is an international Day of Penitence: atoning for sins by apologizing to those who have suffered, not forgiveness from God. It's very Jewish, which may explain why it's not widely accepted or practiced: God's forgiveness comes at no cost, while forgiveness from those who have suffered may require not only an apology but reparations. Has anybody suffered as have Jews? Elie Wiesel urged Germany to ask for forgiveness for the crimes committed against Jews by Germans. "Do it publicly," he said. He also said: ''No people ever inflicted such suffering as your people on mine in such a short period. Until the end of time, Au schwitz is part of your history and mine.'' The guilty and the sufferer are forever tied: the guilty never forgiven and the sufferer never forgiving.

there's a big difference between trying to cause someone trauma: such as through criticism and using cognitive dissonance as shield from criticism. The former is a true thing; the latter is just awkward. The problem with "intentions are the only thing that matters" -- is the dichotomy of preservation. Same thing you see with the education system: the floors and the ceilings, a private marketplace for systemic error. On a grand scale.

In numerical analysis, computational physics, and simulation, discretization error is the error resulting from the fact that a function of a continuous variable is represented in the computer by a finite number of evaluations, for example, on a lattice.

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Should it be England or New Zealand that should apologize for giving the Maori guns, so they could commit genocide?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moriori#Invasion_by_Taranaki_Māori_(1835–1868)

Are there any Morioris left to receive the apology?

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Generally, more of the world’s hegemonic countries should be ashamed of the bad things in their history that contributed to their current position. It would be good for the world and the people in those countries. For example, people in Germany and Japan have developed a strong sense of shame at their history. The result has been the greatest period of peace and prosperity in both countries’ history as resources are diverted from militarism and geopolitics into peaceful economic growth. These countries’ economic success has also massively benefitted their neighbors, as Japan contributed greatly to the success of other Asian tiger economies through technological diffusion and Germany through technological diffusion and the EU helped bring East Germans and Eastern Europeans closer to Western European living standards.

That said, I agree that Spain apologizing to Mexico would be silly and forced. Spain is not reaping benefits of colonialism from 500 years ago; as recently as 1950 it was as poor as Mexico. Spain also isn’t engaging in any wrongdoing today that could be prevented by a more ashamed culture.

This is hilarious because a) Japan feels absolutely no shame for their behavior they just get mad when China tries to use it as a club against them and b) all that shame hasn’t prevented Germany from being equally devious in pursuing continental hegemony through the EU. I think your teachers and news sources should apologize to you.

This is hilarious - 'hasn’t prevented Germany from being equally devious in pursuing continental hegemony through the EU'

I think your teachers and news sources should apologize to you. (Or at least ask a French person what the EU really is - a devious ruse to pursue French continental hegemony.)

No actual argument here yawn.

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"Spain also isn’t engaging in any wrongdoing today that could be prevented by a more ashamed culture." Arguably it is, with Catalonia.

I think the Basques have a prior claim over the Catalonians.

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Zaua: The result has been the greatest period of peace and prosperity in both countries’ history as resources are diverted from militarism and geopolitics into peaceful economic growth.

Seems a bit naive really; West Germany has continued to grow well because they did before and likewise Japan, not really a "shame effect".

That said, I agree that Spain apologizing to Mexico would be silly and forced. Spain is not reaping benefits of colonialism from 500 years ago; as recently as 1950 it was as poor as Mexico. Spain also isn’t engaging in any wrongdoing today that could be prevented by a more ashamed culture.

This is kind of a weird logic that I do find really tends to drive "anti-colonialism" today; more about shaming and restraining rich and prominent cultures than any sort of consistent principles.

Colonisation of India by the Mughals, Eurasia as a whole by the Mongols, even the New World by Spain, Russia in Siberia in Central Asia, etc. tends to be soft pedalled because these countries aren't today rich or hegemonic, even if objectively their expansion as empires was easier to call mostly damaging that Britain, France or the United States.

It's ultimately mostly an exercise in taking Northwestern Europeans down a peg or two, and de-legitimizing resistance to mass migration in rich states populated largely by NW Europeans or their settlers.

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The United States should apologize to Mexico for taking over half their country!

"The U.S. has never apologized to Mexico, even though it took almost half of its southern neighbor’s territory in a 19th-century war"

Tyler got this one. This is of course using the word "apology" to mean "I am sorry if you didn't like what happened, but I'm not going to do anything to change it".

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The notion that the territory in question was 'Mexican' was a diplomatic fiction. The number of actual Mexicans living in Texas in 1835 was about 3,000. The number living in California ca. 1840 didn't exceed 20,000.

How many Americans were living in Michigan in 1783 when it was part of a big chunk of territory granted the new United States in the Teaty of Paris? Was it OK for the British to keep their troops on Detroit for years afterward?

Look up Jay’s Treaty. And whether it was right or wrong they never apologized for it. Nor should they have to.

Mexico shouldn’t have started shit if they didn’t want to rumble. We learned that lesson in 1812 only General Jackson and Harrison and Admiral Perry pulled our nuts out of the fire. 5’4” and mouthy isn’t anyway to go through life sometime Mexico will learn that lesson.

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Is this an April Fools joke? Good one Mexico!

Or Tyler.

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Apologies belong in the realm of interpersonal relations. In politics, demands for them are games. The early Khomeini regime was big on various exercises in contrived humiliation, blaming the United States for the Shah's quite unremarkable levels of political repression (and not acknowledging that they were running a abattoir after the Shah departed).

Nicely put. The whole widespread national apology thing has bothered me but i could not figure out why.

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My Irish ma was always banging on about 800 years of the British boot heel. Not constructive.

Britain was (and remains) a presence in Ireland. Didn't conquer the whole Island until 1603. Notable is that the Irish and the Welsh were too refractory amongst themselves to do what the Anglo-Saxons accomplished by the 9th century and the Scots accomplished by the 12th century: assemble a supra-local territorial state.

Thanks for the potted history and completely missing my point.

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Sorry for being man, heterosexual and white, I am bad and guilty by nature and so I say sorry!

At some deep level, the very structure of apologies—asking for, and receiving, an apology—implies that something in the situation has changed, and that moving is possible. But nowadays in some circles being a man, especially a white man, is a stain that cannot be so easily removed. The sins are too many and manifold. Of course this view is the silliest of essentialisms, and were it not being pushed by a powerful coterie of interests it would be laughed it.

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I think history is the last concern to assess this apology demand.

During the following weeks several public tenders comprising billions of dollars will be announced by the Mexican federal government. Among them a new oil refinery (8 billion) and a railroad (5+ billion).

The ridiculous apology demand from the Mexican president sparked an even more ridiculous answer from Spain where it became an electoral issue. Spanish politicians are bashing the party of the current PM for being friendly to Mexico.

Back to the oil refinery, it is a public tender by invitation and only 4 anonymous companies/consortiums were invited. https://www.eleconomista.com.mx/empresas/Licitacion-de-refineria-en-Tabasco-sera-por-invitacion-restringida-a-4-empresas-Nahle-20190318-0024.html

The Mexican president has some animosity against Spanish companies. It's not certain why, it may just be he has other friends to whom give government contracts. Quite probably Spanish companies were excluded. https://www.eleconomista.com.mx/opinion/Carta-de-AMLO-alerta-para-empresas-espanolas-20190327-0005.html

In the following months, any criticism to the public tender process can be dismissed as "Spanish colonial mentality". The idiotic and emotional reaction from Spanish politicians shielded the Mexican president.

So, this is NOT about race, history, or justice. It's about sweet multibillion dollar public tenders.

Considering also the relationship between Catalonia and Spain, the action by the Mexican president was evil trolling.

The apology demand was sent to the King of Spain. It took 5 seconds for the Catalonians to spin this story as "Mexico request apologies for the abuses committed by the Spaniards".

The emotional overreaction in Spain may be related the Catalonians that tell the same story about "abuses committed by the Spaniards". Right now there is the trial of several Catalonian politicians that organized the independence referendum. https://www.lavanguardia.com/politica/20190327/461278871816/diplomacia-espanola-polemicas-lopez-obrador-francia-mexico.html

So, Mexico's president uses history to exclude Spanish companies from public tenders, and Catalonians use Mexico's apology request to portrait the King of Spain as the bad guy.

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noting that lately Mexico has been demanding an apology from Spain for colonialism.

I think the ancestry of the typical Mexican is around 40% European and the share of the population conversant in Indian dialects is around 2%. Demanding an apology takes gall.

The nation of Mexico itself is a colonial creation, so shouldn't they dissolve it if they are serious about this?

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“The 2008-2009 apology for slavery was certainly proper . . . .” Maybe. One cannot apologize for an action that he did not commit, or for a condition that he did not create. Neither the George W. Bush administration nor the Obama administration held anyone in slavery, nor did either create or foster the institution of slavery: therefore, neither logically could apologize for slavery. But the American government did foster slavery, so *it* could apologize. The government—yes; the Bush or Obama administration—no. Normally we are careless about this sort of distinction, but here it is conceptually important.
Note also that an apology is normally issued to someone who (or something that?) was wronged or harmed. But the people who were harmed by American slavery have long since passed away; to whom is the apology to be addressed? I think the answer must be: to some still-existing collective entity that was “harmed” (perhaps in a metaphorical sense) by American slavery. For this role I propose (not anyone in particular but) the collection of all people: the world at large. Arguably (an earlier stage of) this collective entity was harmed, so it is not absurd for the perpetrator to apologize to it—that is, to its present stage.
But there remains some oddity about this metaphorical extension of the institution of apologizing, from individual people to collections of people. What other collective entities should apologize? For example, arguably, rich people (collectively) were the principal slaveholders *ante bellum*; perhaps they (in their present stage) should apologize, too. It may be objected that the American rich are not organized in such a way that they could issue an apology; but they easily could get organized, if they all wished to do so, and then the organization could apologize on their behalf. And arguably Black people were harmed by slavery (though perhaps, in spite of enslavement, the slaves were actually better off than their cousins in Africa, and present-day Black Americans owe their very existence to the institution of slavery—as do we all), in which case the American government, and American rich people, should apologize to Blacks collectively (of course, the apology would be received by *the current stage* of the collection of Blacks). One apology to people in general, another apology to Blacks, and still other apologies to every other still-existing collection that was wronged or harmed by American slavery. (In fact, the House and Senate apologies in 2008 and 2009 were directed to African-*Americans*.)
And should not people-in-general apologize to people-in-general for slavery—for the practice in general, not just for its American variant? And besides slavery, there are many other actions and practices of the past that can be associated with still-existing collections of people, as “perpetrators” and “victims” (in metaphorically extended senses).
An apology, once issued, may be accepted or rejected by the recipient. What happened, for example, to the 2008-09 apology by the American government (executed by Congress under the Bush and Obama administrations) for American slavery? Did African-Americans as a group accept the apology, and forgive the American government for fostering slavery? If, as I have suggested, an apology should have been addressed to the world at large, would the world have accepted it? I am asking here about collective responses, since the apologies must have been addressed to collections of people, not to individuals.

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My cynical take is that it usually follows this sequence:

1. Demand for an apology.

2. Demand for reparations.

3. Goto step 1.

China demands apologies from Japan every few years to brow beat and antagonize the Japanese. It's not done for the catharsis.

"China demands apologies from Japan every few years to brow beat and antagonize the Japanese."
If Japan doesn't like it, maybe Japan should not have invaded China. Let us be blunt: there is no moral difference between Nazis and the Japanese.

By the same logic if China doesn’t like it they should have fought harder. And the maoists are morally worse than Nazis.

So it comes to it: Nazi-fascism was great; and innocent civilians deserved to be eliminated.

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Mexico should apologize for not building that wall.

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Any one vaguely familiar with the history of the world could take this to include a lot more than the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and Rwanda.

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The "evil" doers are all dead. Their victims are all dead. The by-standers are all dead. IF there is some reason for a political act (say an "official" apology), I don't see why we should, or how we can, usefully discuss it. I mean those who are not stakeholders. Next perhaps, we should discuss on what dates the Full Moon should occur. Well, at least we can all agree that J-Lo should be taller, right? Anyway. my take on what is a real apology is that a real apology requires the making of amends. This is usually absent in the political version of same. As far as a "broad social willingness to accept"...LMFAO! It is April 1st, of course.

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When it comes to reparations, personally I would be willing to pay $100,000,say, to a Slavery Reparations fund if it meant we didn’t have to hear anything more on the subject. But just last week on Tucker Carlson a guest clarified that, no, even after reparations were paid, all current programs (e.g., affirmative action) and victimization claims would continue. So I’ve decided to buy a new Porsche instead.

+100K!

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Apologies are worthless without sincerity or atonement.

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What about the glory of La Raza?

I'm reminded of arriving in the middle of a class day to take over for a called-away teacher. The woman who had been watching the kids meantime explained to me as she went out that two little boys had had some sort of kerfuffle and both had been set to the task of writing apologies to one another.

Shortly thereafter one of the miscreants handed in this curt apology:

"I'm sorry for making you wish you had never been born."

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Isn't this like demanding your present day cousins apologize to you for something your shared set of great-great-grandparents did before any of you were alive?

If "guilt by ancestry" is to be the rule, then boy is Mexico's ruling class going to be in for a shock when they look at their 23 & Me report.

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Would Mexico have been better if the Aztecs had continue to rule? For that matter, would India have been better off under continue Moghul rule? You can ask that question in just about any former colony.

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One of the great sharing articles and left a lot of impressions for me personally

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A national apology is effectively an apology from a low functioning sociopath, utterly meaningless other than as a marker of humiliation. Now ritual humiliation has its place, modern Japan and Germany are proof of that and it helps keep certain parties in their place, but it always has blowback even if the blowback is usually pretty meaningless since the resentful party is one that was forced into humiliation in the first place.

But saying sorry we kicked your but and took all your stuff a few generations ago is really the opposite of humiliation. Is any Scandinavian not a little bit proud of the awesomeness of the Vikings? Or any Mongol ashamed of what exactly a remarkably small number of them accomplished once?

And in the case of Mexico the best documented mestizo nation on earth: “Sorry Mexico for letting our distant cousins kill all your men and capture your women between 500 and 200 years most of ago” is not going to be very humiliating or even meaningful. Obrador’s need is really just a kind of grandiose Oedipal conflict

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Perhaps the Spanish would alleviate some of their unrest at home if they were to demand an apology from Morocco for having colonized Spain in the 8th-15th centuries.

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This is the funniest thing I ever heard. Is ancient Athens going to apologize to Turkey? Will Britain apologize to US for bringing slavery here?

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