No History Wars For You

Yesterday, when I was spending far too much time on Wikipedia, like I am prone to do, I discovered the History Wars. Apparently, a large part of Australia’s public debate over the past four decades has focused on the historical treatment of aborigines and the moral status of the island’s colonization. Some, such as former PM Paul Keating, acknowledge the devastation the colonization caused the aborigines, while others, such as current PM John Howard, deny or diminish it. Australia is not alone in having discussions like this, of course; since the New Historians have revealed that Ben-Gurion and the IDF were far less than innocent in the departure of Arabs from Palestine in 1948, Israel too has had to come to grips its founding history.
All of which has me wondering: why has the US not had this discussion? Granted, it’s dispiriting that there are people like Andrew Bolt, who denies the existence of the Stolen Generation (the Australian government’s practice of kidnapping aborigine youth from their parents), or Efraim Karsh, who argues against all evidence that the Arabs of Palestine left freely in 1948; but still, at least Australians and Israelis discuss these things, whereas in the US the crimes against Native Americans are nary even mentioned. Even more strange is that, whereas no one alive in the US today remembers Wounded Knee, plenty of current Israelis were alive in 1948 and a huge number of current Australians were alive in 1969, when the policies behind the Stolen Generation officially ended. These are fresh wounds in Australia and Israel, and yet they’re still discussed; in the US, the crimes are far in the past, and no one talks about them. What gives?

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