I have been reading several threads and while I was thinking of responding to a few, it struck me that all of them had the same elephant in the room: the concept of collective guilt.
In particular, we have to make our peace with this before we really can discuss most of the big ticket items (racism, Islamic terrorism and such). So let me make a stab at talking about it and see where it goes from there.
Collective guilt is the assumption that membership in some group, clan, tribe etc. imparts responsibility for individual actions by members to all members. Feuds are a basic example of this thinking. This is the idea that the sins of the father may be visited upon the sons. (Actually the Bible waffles on this, from endorsing it (Leviticus 26:39) to flatly rejecting it (2 Chronicles 25:4)).
Generally in American law, one cannot be tried for what one is rather merely for what one has done. Most of the recent calls for collective guilt have come from socialists and fascists, where economic, racial, etc. affiliations are at the center of state policies. Islamisists assume that religion should be the basis for deciding the fate of groups.
Pretty much everyone would reject collective guilt for simple criminal activities. If your grandfather was a murderer, it would be very unfair to execute you 50 years after the fact (again, the logic behind blood feuds would accept this though). However, by the same token, most great social injustices are phrased precisely in these terms.
I suspect that the reason we seem to have a double standard is the diffuse nature of victimhood. A specific victim engenders a concept of justice (possibly tinged with vengeance) where some sort of systemic grievance does not have nearly the direct cause and effect. This gets complicated even more so when time has passed. Nobody seems to want the Romans to apologize to the Jews for causing the Diaspora, do they? Although this leads to many goofy pronouncements (recent one was the tenured woman faculty member with a couple of Ph. D.'s explaining to me why she was “oppressed”) which get press, nobody even tries to nail down the idea or discuss realistically, least as far as I can tell.
Here are the questions for you all.
Do we accept that collective guilt is a valid concept that is lacking in US law?
If so, why aren’t we re-writing the Bill of Rights to reflect this?