Saturday, May 20, 2023



— No child born today in Germany is in any way responsible for the horrors of the Holocaust.

— I should not have to apologise for all the times my mother was rude to people. *

These seem uncontroversial statements to me, but the urge to impose guilt and contrition where none are due has become a worrying feature of contemporary debate.

Just yesterday Joe Biden had to shake off pleas for a formal “awfully sorry” for the first atomic bombing.

It seems to me that many politicians are torn between knowing how nonsensical this is (and toxic to any grown-up understanding of history) and the underlying desire to openly wallow a bit in inherited, institutional or ethic/tribal guilt, an icky form of virtue-signalling that many seem unable to decode.

If I can thus point to some underlying disagreeable intentions, there are nevertheless plenty of largely decent ones in play here too, which makes this bunk an even more urgent candidate for de-bunking.

* Even though in Britain it is still considered a matter of everyday politeness to say sorry to someone who has just hit you over the head with a baseball bat.


norm said...

Tribal memories run deep. The atomic attack was a reaction to a nation acting like savages. The shiny nail gets pounded down, as they say in Japan...
Making Biden make weeping noises is their right but it might be ill advised in light of our fellow difficulties with China at present . Biden, like all US Presidents has a limited time in office but tribal memory lives on for decades.

Inner Diablog said...

Tribal memory differs from history in that it is often a confection, a sort of mask worn over a certain kind of contemporary consciousness - a real time engagement with the issues of the day, affecting to have the justification of the depth that comes with the past tense.

norm said...

Why most accurate history is written after all the players or even their children and grandchildren are dead.
The main reason a student takes out a wheelbarrow load of books for a simple twenty page essay is to try and get an accurate picture of the assigned topic or at least that was the way it was done fifty years ago...