The Anatomy of a Postmodern Apology
Tony Beam Dr. Tony Beam's Weblog
- 2005 Jun 26
In the book The Challenge of Postmodernism Union University President Dr. David Dockery cites two hallmarks which characterize postmodern thinking. The first is "a disbelief in objective truth," and the second is "a deep sense that morality is relative." Because so many Americans have embraced (some unknowingly) both of these tenants of postmodernist thinking, Senator Dick Durbin's tearful apology for comparing GITMO to Soviet gulags, Nazi death camps, and Pol Pot's murdering is effectively allowing him to wiggle from the responsibility of those statements.
Senator Durbin's apology is filled with "ifs" and and focuses the light of offense off of himself directing it instead to the hearers or readers of his comments. When a genuine apology is made, wrong actions on the part of the one offering the apology are unambiguously stated and the reason for the apology is clearly understood. A postmodern apology allows the apologizer to muddy the water by suggesting by their language that they wouldn't have to be making this contrived apology if the people who were offended were just a bit more open-minded.
Do you think I am being a bit too nit-picky? Look at the text of Senator Durbin's apology. He said, "I am sorry if anything I said caused any offense or pain to those who have such bitter memories of the Holocaust. I am also sorry if anything I said cast a negative light onn our fine men and women in the military"(emphasis mine).
By repeatedly using the word if Senator Durbin allows the hearer or reader of the apology to decide for themselves whether or not what he said was offensive. Since anyone offering a postmodern apology would look at truth and morality as relative, Durbin leaves it up to you to decide whether or not people should have been offended by what he said. He completely dodges the issue of whether what he said was right or wrong by any agreed upon standard and by doing so, calls into question the sensativity of those who were offended. This allows him to apologize without really admitting any wrong in his actions and gives the illusion of heartfelt remose which is really nothing more than a self-serving attitude masquarding as contrition.
And yet, in the minds of a majority of Americans, he apologized. Now all who criticize him and continue to call him into account for his outrageous statements are the bad guys because genuine concern over faux apologies look comes off looking like piling on for political purposes.
If Senator Durbin was truly sorry that he kicked American military morale in the teeth and at the same time, gave a weeks worth of headline ecouragement and months of recruitment energy to terrorists around the world, he should simply say so. He should say so without any "ifs, ands, or buts." He should admit that he was briefly carried away by his own leftist zeal and he should enter the Trent Lot Rehabilitation School for Wayward Senator Sayings.
Actually, what Trent Lott said about Strom Thurmond (which ended up costing Senator Lott his leadership position in the Senate) now seems pretty mild in light of Howard Deans' daily diatribes and Senator Durbin's inability to tell the difference between murderous regimes the protection of our national security. When Senator Lott said Strom Thurmond should have been elected president, he was praising Thurmond for his obvious contributions to the American political scene. He was not making a statement about the merits of a segregated society or affirmative action. But that didn't matter to his detractors who hounded him through at least four apologies and finally suceeded in pushing him out of his leadership postion. Senator Lott must be scratching his head today in amazment at how quickly people were willing to let Senator Durbin off the hook, especially since Durbin's comments actually energized enemies of the United States.
Before the Senator Durbin's apology had time to to filter all the way through the media, Karl Rove riled many Leftists with his remark stating that conservatives responded to the attacks of 9/11 "preparing for war" while liberals responded by "preparing indictments" and an offer of "therapy and understanding for our attackers." Senator Hillary Clinton and the usual kabal of American Leftists immediately called for Rove to "apologize or resign." Rove righly refused to do either, mainly because his comments, unlike Senator Durbin's were rooted in the truth.
Just a few short months after 9/11 former President Clinton, in a speech