Posted by: Lisa Pampuch | August 27, 2009

Ignorance leads to pseudo-apology

Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) told an audience in her home state of Kansas that Republicans need a “great white hope” — a racist phrase that was coined in 1908 to describe the desperation to find a white boxer to get the heavyweight title back from an African-American man — and offered this weasely pseudo-apology:

“I was unaware of any negative connotation,” she said.  “And if I offended anybody, obviously, I apologize.”

As I’ve written before, “A pseudo-apology … does not admit that the speaker made a mistake, but instead expresses regret that someone was offended by the speaker’s words or deeds,” and, “An apology requires an admission of error and regret that you made that error, not an admission of regret that people were offended by what you did or said.”

Pseudo-apologies are shameful tactics designed to push blame off of offenders and onto those they hurt. Here’s what a real apology from Rep. Jenkins might look like, assuming her pitiful protestations of ignorance of the phrase’s well-known racist origins are indeed genuine:

“I apologize for my ignorance about the racist implications of the phrase I used when discussing the future of the Republican Party. As a member of the United States House of Representatives, I should have known better.”

But that’s not what she said. And that speaks volumes about Rep. Jenkins.


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