To paraphrase the movie “Love Story,” columnist Don Roberts (“Courage: New year brings new hope,” Dec. 28) seems to believe that “courage means never having to say you’re sorry.” His exemplar of courage is former Vice President Dick Cheney, the recent apologist for torture and human rights abuses perpetrated by the CIA. Based on Roberts’ view of courage, our nation and our world would be much better off with less of that particular virtue.

Roberts claims that “America has nothing to apologize for.”

I wonder if he could say that with a straight face to American Indians expelled by the U.S. government from their ancestral lands, to Japanese Americans forced into internment camps during World War II, to Iranians whose democratically elected president was replaced by a dictator through the U.S.-sponsored coup of 1953, or to relatives of the Vietnamese villagers massacred at My Lai by the U.S. military. Perhaps these people might reasonably feel they deserve an apology.

I love my country, but I am under no illusion that it has “nothing to apologize for.”

One thing I love about it is the ability of its leaders and people to examine our government’s behavior, recognize when it has done harm, and take steps to redress past injuries and prevent future ones.

By releasing the Report on Torture, the Senate Intelligence Committee has engaged in this process. This is the kind of courage our country needs, not Robert’s jingoistic version.

Harry Vayo

Oakland

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