Do apologies even matter anymore? As a simple act of contrition in everyday life, they certainly do. In the national conversation about political or social issues, though, they have become a weapon. Demanding someone apologize for a deliberate lie is one thing, but insisting upon a public apology for a joke or an opinion has become a way of attempting to shame and silence those with whom we disagree. The end result satisfies no one; the person from whom the apology is demanded will either refuse that demand or they will make a bland and insincere mea culpa that nobody is really buying. Either way, the demanders of the apology are never satisfied, so why bother?
When a conservative – or someone like comedian Roseanne Barr, who played a conservative on television – says or writes something deemed offensive, abusive or needlessly insulting, the calls for an apology are immediate and loud. Even some conservatives will express their disgust and jump on the ‘you take that back!’ bandwagon. Roseanne publicly apologized. It did no good. An apology is either accepted or it is not and the left never accepts apologies from the right. Roseanne lost her show and likely will never work again in the entertainment industry.
The Apology Game: Roseanne vs. Samantha Bee
When the ever-spiteful Samantha Bee, who plays a comedian on TV, recently described Ivanka Trump as a “feckless c**t” and suggested she sexually seduce her own father, no-one on the left demanded an apology. On the contrary, many leftists on social media – including celebrities – expressed their approval of Bee’s comment. The public apology from Bee was, of course, inevitable but it had no meaning. Everyone on both the left and the right knows very well that Bee is in no way ashamed of what she said. She meant every word of it and her apology was made only to get her network bosses off the hook. Could the same be said of Roseanne Barr’s apology? To be fair, yes, it probably could.
Unlike Roseanne, Bee’s career – such as it is – will not suffer in the least as a result of her abuse. Likewise, MSNBC host Joy Reid has kept her job despite the revelation of old blog posts, in which she expressed animus toward gays, Jews, and illegal immigrants. Reid put out the kind of apology that has become standard for leftists; she apologized, essentially, for the fact that people believe she wrote those blog posts, though she continues, laughably, to deny any knowledge of having written them.
Why Conservatives Should Never Apologize
That is how leftists always apologize. Rather than express sorrow or regret for what they actually said, they will apologize for the fact that their words were misunderstood or taken out of context or that others falsely attributed certain sentiments to them. They never accept blame or responsibility; they express their regret that other people misunderstood them.
To leftists, an apology is a defeat. When one complies with the demands for an apology from one’s opponents, that round of the cultural or political contest has been conceded. Conservatives continue to fall at the feet of the left when they apologize. This is because they fail to comprehend the most important thing about apologizing: if an apology is not accepted, then it is worthless. When a conservative apologizes, a leftist does not forgive the perceived sin but, rather, chalks it up as a victory. Meanwhile, his or her feelings toward the conservative in question remain unchanged.
This is not to say that there aren’t people on the right who have also weaponized the apology. The sad truth is our increasing cultural tribalism has diluted the value of apologies. When someone says something that one side or the other doesn’t like, the indignation and the outrage is often viewed with great skepticism; it is considered hollow and phony and, so, the apologies made in response to the manufactured outrage are, likewise, seen as hollow and phony.
The answer, of course, is simple: We should all consider what we are about to say. We should think about how the statements we are about to make could be interpreted by others. Most importantly, if we decide, after careful consideration, that we do not care whether others find our statements offensive, then we should stick by them and never apologize for them – because those who do not like us or do not agree with us will not think any better of us even after we apologize.
Raised and inspired by his father, a World War II veteran, Graham learned early in life how to laugh and be a gentleman. After attending college, he decided to join the British Army, where he served for several years and saw combat on four continents. In addition to being a news and politics junkie, Graham loves laughter, drinking and the outdoors. Combining all three gives him the most pleasure. Individual liberty is one of the few things he takes seriously.
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