When MSNBC host, Martin Bashir, declared that “someone should defecate and urinate in [Sarah] Palin’s mouth, a punishment delivered to some slaves,” he immediately issued an on-air apology declaring: “My words were wholly unacceptable. They were neither accurate, nor fair. They were unworthy of anyone who would claim to have an interest in politics.”
Then, a few weeks ago, “MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry offered an unreserved and tearful apology on her show…for remarks she made last week about Mitt Romney’s family and his recently adopted African-American grandson” tweeting: “I am sorry. Without reservation or qualification. I apologize to the Romney family.”
Most recently, it was reported that “MSNBC President Phil Griffin apologized to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on Thursday for a tweet suggesting conservatives “hate” interracial marriages and “dismissed” the staffer who authored it.”
Why were these apologies deemed necessary? For example, the Bashir incident was not a spur of the moment reaction. Evidently, he thought Palin’s equation of America’s budget deficit to slavery was inappropriate and suggested Palin endure the actual suffering of a slave, and he meant exactly what he wrote. These MSNBC pundits are left wing activists and their statements genuinely reflect their beliefs. While many might disagree with them, what’s wrong with expressing their viewpoint on their political talk shows? Why can’t these pundits “own” their beliefs and proudly profess them even in the teeth of vehement criticism?
The “controversial statement” followed by “The Apology” appears to be a kind of phenomenon sweeping American culture whereby momentary outbursts of actual thought are swiftly followed by denials and soulful public remorse. To “offend” another by speaking your mind is regarded as a criminal transgression mitigated only through the issuance of a perfunctory apology, a process which serves as a kind of ritualized public catharsis. Rarely is the actual meaning of the “offending” words ever considered or analyzed. Instead, the mere tone of the words and their presumed ability to offend the victim is regarded as the primary concern. Modern intellectuals have replaced objective communication with introspective assessments of feelings to which they modulate their indignation – or apologies.
Contrast this with comedian Natash Leggero who recently refused to apologize after a joke that targeted Pearl Harbor veterans during a New Year’s Eve telecast on NBC. She explained her non-apology on her Tumblr page:
I’m not sorry. I don’t think the amazing courage of American veterans and specifically those who survived Pearl Harbor is in any way diminished by a comedian making a joke about dentures on television. Do we really believe that the people who fought and defended our freedom against Nazis and the Axis powers will find a joke about Spaghetti O’s too much to bear? Sorry, I have more respect for Veterans than to think their honor can be impugned by a glamorous, charming comedian in a fur hat.
In this rare case, rather than succumb to politically correct pressure, Leggero stood her ground and actually intelligently analyzed the nature and intention of the joke ultimately demonstrating more respect for her supposed “victims” than her critics could likely ever conceive.
The progress and vitality of a free society is founded upon vigorous open debate, not retreat and evasion. Consider America’s founding generation in the tumultuous 1790s, a period Jefferson dubbed “the reign of witches”, when Benjamin Franklin’s grandson, Benjamin Franklin Bache, and William Duane poured invective from the pages of their Aurora newspaper characterizing George Washington, the Father of our Country, as a “coward, a traitor, and a murderer” and John Adams “a blind, bald, crippled, toothless, dotard.” Bache was ultimately arrested under the Alien and Sedition Acts where he died of yellow fever in captivity. He never apologized nor did Washington or Adams.
It is easy to cynically dismiss The Apology as spin doctoring or damage control in the social media age, but I hold that there is a deeper cause. Modern philosophy’s assault on reason and objectivity has led to the idea that there is no truth, that nothing is black and white, that there is no right and wrong and no provable standards of morality or achievement. Ironically, it is the left’s own subjectivism that underlies their MSNBC apologies. They are such subjectivists, they cannot even bring themselves to stand by their own criticism. As soon as they utter even a semblance of actual belief, rather than attempt to defend their remarks with a logical argument, they ignominiously retreat into the morass of neutrality and snarky evasion.
The total collapse of objective standards is the essence of today’s culture. The core of modern progressive education appears not to be teaching children how to ascertain truth by thinking objectively and analytically, but rather making them feel good by intentionally eschewing standards. Rather than striving to meet an objective standard of excellence, educators are concerned only with propping up the students’ pseudo self-esteem inculcated through years of undeserved praise , trophies for all, and smiley faces on “fuzzy” math tests. Rather than teaching that pride is earned through actual achievement and willingness to suffer the consequences of failure, parents and educators construct a psychological house of cards ready to crumble at the first whiff of criticism.
While the left cannot bring itself to acknowledge objective individual achievement, there is one attribute they do urge us to celebrate – our membership in a group. Since the subjectivist left denies the possibility of rational, independent judgement and thus eschews the precepts of individualism, they regard people, not as individuals, but as members of collectives whose identities are determined by the attributes of their group. Rather than see individuals as unique products of choices exercised through freewill, to be judged according to “the content of their character”, the multiculturalist left adopts the racist premise that individuals are products of their genetic linkage to some group, conditioned by their circumstances, their “environment”, or their race, socio-economic class, or gender.
When individualism is replaced by collectivism, one’s identity and sense of self-worth becomes tied to membership in a particular group. Rather than seek individual goals and achievements by meeting and surpassing objective standards of excellence, individuals are encouraged to “celebrate” their group identity. Note that multiculturalism emphasizes “cultural diversity” rather than “individual” diversity. The implication is that actual differences can only be found within differing ethnicity’s – not within different individual minds (see, for example, “whiteness studies“). Since individuals are essentially regarded as interchangeable members of a social organization, any affront to the group is a challenge to the member’s pseudo self-esteem derived from membership in the collective – a notion that gives rise to the entire political correctness movement.
America was once a nation of self-confident, resilient individuals eager to freely apply their minds to pursue happiness by overcoming the hardships of life. The non-objectivity and relativism of post-modern philosophy has spawned an Offended Generation – a pathetic lot of fragile, whining imbeciles demanding a blue ribbon for existing and an Apology for being a victim of everything else that comes with it.