Should governments apologize for past wrongs done in their name?
Sins of the Parents
The Politics of National Apologies in the United States
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Brian A. Weiner
Debates have swirled around the question of national forgiveness for the past fifty years. Using two examplesthe land claims of the Oneida Indians and the claims for reparations to Japanese Americans interned during World War IIBrian Weiner suggests a way of thinking about national misdeeds. Arguing beyond collective "innocence" or "guilt," Sins of the Parents offers a model of collective responsibility to deal with past wrongs in such a way as to reinvigorate our notion of citizenship.
Drawing upon the writings of Abraham Lincoln and Hannah Arendt, Weiner offers a definition of political responsibility that at once defines citizenship and sidesteps the familial, racial, and ethnic questions that often ensnare debates about national apologies. An original contribution to political theory and practice, Sins of the Parents will become a much discussed contribution in the debate about what it is to be an American.
"The work provides a thoughtful framework within which to approach this difficult issue. Highly recommended."
"Political theorist Brian A. Weiner's Sins of the Parents is but the latest entry in the extensive recent literature on 'transitional justice' and the related questions of redress and rectification, but brings valuable, and in some cases new, materials to bear on these questions…This book offers important innovation to the literature on national apologies and collective memory… Sins of the Parents is a constructive step forward in considering national apologies, and the American case in particular."
"Weiner’s book is well written and generally persuasive. It combines a well-researched examination of debates about particular claims, along with a plausible account of how facing up to dark episodes in a nation’s history could transform its political life for the better."
"Sins of the Parents will appeal to scholars across a variety of disciplines and sub-fields within political science....Weiner’s passion is evident throughout the book, and he writes in a lively, non-polemical tone at a level that advanced undergraduates and graduate students will appreciate. Sins of the Parents would be well assigned in various classes, from political theory courses on justice and citizenship to courses in race and ethnic politics."
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