If you think immigration is a problem now, imagine how it must have seemed to the natives of the various “New Worlds” as white Europeans came pouring in from 1492 on. Those migrations, made by my ancestors and the ancestors of the Europeans amongst whom I now live, were so much more catastrophic for native populations than anything going on in the developed world now. And for one little moment this week, one government tried to remember, if not rectify, that.

Rudd_Apology Audience_Apology

Australia said they’d do it and they did. They’ve apologized to the aborigines. The apology, which was the first item of business when the government reconvened, was directed mainly at the “Stolen Generations” as they are known – the 100,000 or so children who were stolen from their parents to be raised by white families. It’s an incredible example of the arrogance of an invading culture. Here’s an excerpt from Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s statement:

We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were stolen generations, this blemished chapter in our nation’s history. For the pain, suffering and hurt of these stolen generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry. To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry. And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.

This is a good step. This article in the Independent, though, explains how many (particularly the former Prime Minister John Howard) fiercely resisted and still oppose the idea of an apology, while on the other side, many are demanding compensation for the long term suffering of the stolen children, quite a few of who “were physically and sexually abused or used as unpaid labour.”

Here’s some video from the Guardian of the event, which the Independent said “made for one of the most colourful starts to any parliamentary session, as thousands of Aborigines poured into the capital, Canberra.”