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For a society branded as being shameless and self-serving, there is a peculiar phenomenon emerging.

As though haunted by the past and wrestling for control of the future, suddenly religious institutions and governments are obsessed with apologizing for past misdeeds.Twenty years after Vietnam, 50 years after World War II, more than a century after slavery and nearly a millennium since the Crusades began, officials are stepping forth to express their remorse - as if to hopefully to give history a more palatable spin.

It's a wasted effort. While there is enormous value to apologies, rewriting history isn't one of them. And rather than being comforted by these belated atonements, the apologies often become as controversial as the deeds themselves.

By Kimberly Crockett

The Phoenix Gazette