I’ve grown to thoroughly hate fake apologies like that recently offered by Senator Dick Durbin. As you might recall, he offered the following astonishing remarks about the treatment of Guantanamo Bay prisoners last week:
If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime–Pol Pot or others–that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners.
I have learned from my statement that historical parallels can be misused and misunderstood. I sincerely regret if what I said caused anyone to misunderstand my true feelings: our soldiers around the world and their families at home deserve our respect, admiration and total support.
Best of the Web correctly observes that “Durbin is trying to appease his critics by offering what looks vaguely like an apology but actually isn’t.” Unfortunately, the mainstream news media isn’t so perceptive. All of the latest headlines report that statement as an apology.
If Senator Durbin genuinely believes that American soldiers are acting like the Nazi, Soviet, or Khmer Rouge soldiers who starved, tortured, and murdered millions, he ought to defend that view. If he realizes that he misspoke in some horrible way, he ought to offer a genuine apology, as well as clearly explain the relationship between what he said, what he meant to say, and his “true feelings.” In either case, he’s likely still be rightly judged an idiot. However, at least he wouldn’t be a cowardly spineless weasel of an idiot.
This absurd episode makes me all the more appreciative of Aristotle’s comments on the qualities possessed by the proud man, some of which I read at Titan Toastmasters last night. Here’s the relevant bit:
[The proud man] must also be open in his hate and in his love (for to conceal one’s feelings, i.e. to care less for truth than for what people will think, is a coward’s part), and must speak and act openly; for he is free of speech because he is contemptuous, and he is given to telling the truth, except when he speaks in irony to the vulgar.
Although it goes without saying, I’ll say it anyway: Senator Durbin is not a proud man.
Crossposted to The Egosphere.