Joe Queenan's Talmudic anger in the L.A. Times: No More Fake Apologies!

Joe Queenan has issued forth a wonderfully crafted rant against the fake apologies that abound in our world full of public miscreants caught red-handed in the acts of crimes and scandals.

You need to read the whole outpouring of angst, "Madoff's sorry excuses - Bernard Madoff's public apology only makes things worse. Make restitution for the lost billions, or forget it.."

Regarding the Vatican and its fake apologies, and Bishop Williamson and his faux mea culpas, Joe eloquently opines,
Almost any time a public figure has apologized in recent times, he has only succeeded in making a bad situation worse. When Holocaust-denying Bishop Richard Williamson finally succumbed to Vatican pressure and apologized for his heinous views, he merely expressed regret for the pain he may have caused sensitive Jews by making such comments, without actually apologizing for denying the Holocaust. He also used the inelegant expression "survivors and relatives of victims of injustice under the Third Reich" to describe the plight of butchered European Jewry, as if the Nazis were guilty of nothing more serious than putting a few bogus liens against Jewish-owned property for failure to pay back taxes.

Issuing self-serving apologies that make the victimized feel as if they are facing another round of victimization is a Vatican tradition; back in 2000, when Pope John Paul II apologized to Jews for their mistreatment at the hands of Christians over the ages, he expressed remorse for the actions of sons and daughters of the Catholic Church who might have strayed from the church's traditional values. This suggested that the Inquisition and the Crusades were rogue operations with which the church had no official connection. The Christians who burned, blinded and immolated all those Jews down through the centuries were renegades, mavericks, free-lancers. God forbid that anyone should suggest Catholics had anything to do with it.
It won't spoil you appreciation if we further whet your appetite with Joe's climactic conclusion:
Now, with Madoff's sham apology, hasn't the time finally come to officially ban public apologies issued by con artists, politicians, regulators, captains of industry, religious leaders and athletes? Haven't we reached the point at which the choreographed donning of sackcloth and ashes merely pours salt into a festering wound and makes the apologist's victims even more enraged? Wouldn't we all be better off telling anyone who wants to apologize for his transgressions against humanity that the finest, most tasteful and most appreciated gesture of contrition would be simply to keep his mouth shut?

Perhaps we as a people need a new statute mandating that when wrongdoers appear in court, or even in the court of public opinion, they should do so with a sock stuffed in their mouths. Only by outfitting the Bernie Madoffs and the Eliot Spitzers and the Richard Williamsons of the world with a gag will we be able to prevent everyone else from gagging.
The whole op-ed contains an arc of appropriate anger, and a Talmudic precision of insight, so go read it.

1 comment:

Richard said...

Both the Madoff and Bishop Williamson affairs bring up an interesting point insofar as apologies are concerned. The problem with any verbal utterance in the face of a heinous crime is that it does nothing with respect to restitution, i.e. to repairing the damage. An apology virtualizes the sin from the realm of the real to that of intent and in doing so presents a counterfeit currency to the aggrieved party. Perhaps, therein is the difference between Judaism and Christianity, the first being more concerned with the act and the injury to the victim, while the second is more focused on the soul of the perpetrator.