Honest Patriots: Loving a Country Enough to Remember Its Misdeeds

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Two great crimes mark its national past: slavery and the fate of the people called Indians.

The US is beginning to confront these collective crimes with new realism in new laws, museums, films, memorials, and history books. A political culture grows in its capacity for justice by remembering injustice. For a people not to remember the misdeeds of their past is to risk repeating them. Public memory requires concrete public signs, rituals, memorials, and education.

Donald W. Shriver

This book seeks to record the attempts of these three countries to give public expression to justice by remembering injustice. Keywords: repentance , forgiveness , public memory , justice , racism , memorials , Holocaust , slavery , apartheid , negative history. Donald W. Shriver, author Union Theological Seminary Emeritus.

Honest Patriots: Loving a Country Enough to Remember Its Misdeeds

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H. Richard Niebuhr · Abingdon Press

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H. Richard Niebuhr

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See our disclaimer. In Honest Patriots , renowned public theologian and ethicist Donald W. Shriver, Jr. The failure to do so skews the relations of many Americans to one another, breeds ongoing hostility, and damages the health of our society. Yet our civic identity today largely rests on denials, forgetfulness, and inattention to the memories of neighbors whose ancestors suffered great injustices at the hands of some dominant majority. Shriver contends that repentance for these injustices must find a place in our political culture. Such repentance must be carefully and deliberately cultivated through the accurate teaching of history, by means of public symbols that embody both positive and negative memory, and through public leadership to this end.

Religious people and religious organizations have an important role to play in this process. Historically, the Christian tradition has concentrated on the personal dimensions of forgiveness and repentance to the near-total neglect of their collective aspects.


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Recently, however, the idea of collective moral responsibility has gained new and public visibility. Official apologies for past collective injustice have multiplied, along with calls for reparations.