“I’m sorry if anyone was offended.”
How many times are we going to hear this same apology from an endless parade of clueless public figures?
The latest lame-ass apologizer is Representative Lynn Jenkins, Republican from Kansas. In addressing a gathering in her district, Rep. Jenkins said that the GOP is searching for its “great white hope.”
You can look it up in Wikipedia: the phrase was used to describe the fervent desire of white boxing fans in the early 20th century to find a white guy — any white guy — who could take the heavyweight title back from Jack Johnson, an African American who had the temerity to win the championship while dating a series of white women.
Rep. Jenkins insists that she had no idea about the history of the term. Nonetheless, she apologizes “if her words offended anyone.”
The reason I object to this type of apology is because of the apparent subtext:
Hey, everyone out there — I’m really this great, caring, sensitive person, who is being raked over the coals by the PC police. Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t have a racist bone in my body, and that my remarks were clearly taken out of context. However, in order to get past this unpleasantness, I’m willing to throw a bone (wink, wink) to those individuals out there who are too thin-skinned and, dare I say, too racist to give me the benefit of the doubt.
Honestly, I can’t begin to imagine an innocuous meaning for the phrase “great white hope.” However, giving Rep. Jenkins the benefit of the doubt, how about the following apology:
“I’m sorry for using a phrase that has such an ugly history. Although it was not my intention to say anything offensive, I should have known better. I understand that, as an elected official, I have a responsibility to the public to educate myself and to choose my words carefully. I will strive to do better in the future.”
Just a suggestion…