America is suffering from an acute case of “apologia logorrhea.”
At least, that’s the diagnosis of comedian and political commentator Dennis Miller in yesterday’s IJ Review article entitled, “My Apologies…”
In the article, Miller critiques the tiresome, ever-recurring pattern we’re subjected to in today’s media: public figure says something deemed offensive by some group, public figure is forced to issue an apology, rinse, repeat. Most likely, you have more than once experienced the parallel in your own life in the classroom, the workplace, or on social media.
The main problem with today’s apology scenarios is not the act of apologizing itself, but that too often they exhibit a lack of genuineness and an abundance of ulterior motives.
For instance, of those who demand apologies Miller writes, “The main problem with the present day inquisition squad is that many of our ‘open-minded’ watch guards are among our most close-minded citizens.” Indeed, often concealed in these demands are attempted power grabs: claim that you are offended and humiliate the other person until he cries “uncle” in the form of an apology.
But in the same way forced love is not really love, so today’s forced apologies are often not sincere apologies. As Miller notes,
“Whose feelings, by the way, are assuaged by these metronomic caveat-empties that sound like a POW reading a prepared statement in the presence of a looming captor? Always delivered in that flat coroner dictaphone monotone that makes the disembodied computerized tram voice at Atlanta/Hartsfield sound like Adele.”
True apologies have a character of otherness in them: one is motivated to right a wrong that one has inflicted on another out of personal weakness. Too frequently today, though, apologies have a self-serving character to them: quickly concede to the demand of another by apologizing so you can save your ass and go about the business of your life.
Many are still confused about Donald Trump’s appeal to Americans. But according to Miller, some of that appeal may be connected with America’s collective exhaustion surrounding this issue of apologies:
“Granted, Donald Trump has many rough edges hidden in that cranberry juice cocktail logo of a coiffure but isn’t it cathartic to see a man mis-speak yet stay wallenda-ed out there on a limb all by himself? Not seeking the absolution of a collective that, quite frankly, ridicules, disparages and reviles as a default setting when settled into its own sanctum sanctimonious.”
Trump is an extreme case, but extremes thrive in an age that has lost common sense. In essence, an apology is something meant to restore balance in a relationship between two parties. The irony is that apologies have now become a symbol of the imbalance that now prevails in American society.