I’ll apologize for my own sins, thank you very much
I post it here because it states my position on the general issue raised, beyond its local manifestation.
Heavy sigh. I should probably be more careful about making enemies...
Lloyd Omdahl said in these pages yesterday that it’s time for the Great Plains states to 1) adopt legislative resolutions conceding guilt for offenses against indigenous peoples, 2) engage in dialog with Native Americans, 3) eliminate “points of pain” between the two societies, and 4) generously enhance economic and educational opportunities for Native Americans.
Mr. Omdahl cited the example of Southern states apologizing for the sins of slavery. He further cites the teachings of Christianity as justification for this proposed collective apology.
I am insulted by this, deeply and personally. That’s putting it mildly. What I am, is furious to the point that I needed to collect myself before I could reply coherently.
Let’s take this point by point.
“Adopt legislative resolutions conceding guilt.”
Whose guilt? Got news for you, I’ve done plenty of things in my life I’m embarrassed and ashamed of, but I’ve never killed a single Indian - or owned a slave for that matter.
But Mr. Omdahl evidently thinks that I, through my elected representatives, ought to apologize and concede guilt for things done by members of the same racial group as myself, mostly before I was born. (Although in point of fact, like many families long-established in this country, my ancestry is not entirely White.)
There is a name for this position. It’s called “racism.”
Second point, “engage in dialog with the Native Americans.”
I am a Native American. I was born here, descended from peoples of different nations, Scots, Irish, English and yes First Nations, who were until quite recently still cheerfully slaughtering each other. That’s part of what being “American” is all about. You’re supposed to give up those old loyalties and hatreds when you become one.
But I’m definitely in favor of dialog. It beats monolog any old day.
“Eliminate points of pain.”
Specifics please. This is vague, feel-good political rhetoric that doesn’t tread close enough to any concrete proposals that the speaker would actually have to defend.
“Generously enhance economic and educational opportunities.”
First point in reply, voting other peoples’ money away is not generosity, any more than sending other people to war is courage. In either case it may be necessary, but it is not the same thing.
Second point, creating “educational opportunities” is in fact one of those “points of pain between the societies.”
Generations of children of the First Nations were sent to government boarding schools, deliberately mixing peoples of different languages so that they would forget their native tongues and culture.
Perhaps the First Nations would rather be given control of their own education through something like a voucher system, rather than trust their children to the tender mercies of their White benefactors.
Mr. Ohdahl cites Christianity as his justification. But Christianity teaches that every individual is individually responsible for his/her own sins and own salvation, not collectively as a race, state or nation.
Mr. Omdahl’s appeal is to what theologians call “cheap grace,” a way to feel good about yourself without any actual sacrifice of comfort or convenience. The kind of grace that is, alas, all too common these days.