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Mea CulpaLessons on Law and Regret from U.S. History$
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Steven W. Bender

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781479899623

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479899623.001.0001

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Frameworks for Prediction

(p.12) 1 Regret
Mea Culpa

Steven W. Bender

NYU Press

Chapter 1 begins by surveying various potential frameworks for predicting the landscape of eventual societal regret, such as religious teachings and the standards of international human rights law. In considering and rejecting these and other predictive frameworks, it details historical instances of U.S. regret, as identified primarily by official federal or state apologies, for clues that should have been evident to policymakers and participants in such regrettable practices as slavery, lynching, Jim Crow laws, involuntary sterilizations of the mentally infirm, and land theft from and killings of Native Americans in the origins of the United States. The most common predictive thread running through these abhorrent policies and practices is isolated and identified as the perceived lesser humanity of those we victimized, such as blacks, Natives, and the mentally disabled. Using this lens of dehumanization, later chapters map the terrain of current regrettable practices and policies affecting several groups we have effectively dehumanized—including Mexican immigrants, farmworkers, the poor receiving welfare, the homeless, sexual minorities, murderers awaiting execution, and Muslims and those of Muslim appearance.

Keywords:   regret, dehumanization, apologies

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