Needed (But Not Expected): U.S. Department of Remorse

Imagine a new cabinet-level department of the U.S. Federal government, with the Honorable Ramsey Clark as the first Secretary. Secretary of Remorse Clark would be responsible for acknowledging and correcting serious matters for which the U.S. and its government owes people and governments of the world both apologies, as well as compensation and reparations.

This could begin with the First Nations of North America (Turtle Island), whose lands were confiscated or bartered away with malicious falsehoods, whose populations were subjected to deliberate genocides by smallpox infection or other means, and whose treaties were ignored or cast aside when the government saw fit. An appropriate act would be the honoring of the 1868 Treaty with the Lakota Nation, and the return of the Black Hills and other lands to that nation.

Secretary Clark should address reparations to descendants of Africa who were brought to the American continent against their will in slave ships, traded in open markets with full awareness of the American government, and whose slave labor greatly enriched the property-owning classes, the bankers and the moneyed elite even as their own human rights were violently tossed aside.

Secretary Clark could negotiate reparations to the Vietnamese people for the use of chemical agents, such as Agent Orange in the war against their homeland by the U.S. military. This and other means did countless birth defects, deaths, cases of loss of livelihood and other harms in this war. The Secretary of Remorse needs to begin to right this enormous wrong, and to prosecute those responsible.

Countless citizens of the world deserve compensation for suffering caused by U.S.-backed dictators and strongmen who killed political opponents, allowed the plundering of resources by invading multi-national corporations and sent their soldiers to the infamous "School of the Americas" in Georgia for training in how to terrorize local communities and resistors. Secretary Clark should plan on a permanent schedule of working seven days a week, 365 days per year to begin to address all these situations for which remorse and reparations are called for.

There is no shortage, perhaps no end to number of nations, much less individual humans, to whom America owes apologies and recompense. The Department of Remorse should obtain a supercomputer and establish databases to track American crimes against humanity and to initiate justice for those people. Major universities and the United Nations should initiate programs to document all the relevant cases.

A Department of Remorse could assist in preventing future atrocities. Recognizing and correcting past injustices would tend to prevent future ones. Young Americans of conscience could develop entire careers in the field of Remorse and Recompense and the world could begin to heal together.

The U.S. likes to portray itself as a world leader in international affairs. Let’s set in place a Department of Remorse and get on with the necessary business of healing and correction and reparations.