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The “If” Apology Isn’t An Apology, It’s An Insult

June 4, 2010

We’ve all heard it before: “I’m sorry if…”

South Carolina lawmaker Jake Knotts referred to a gubernatorial candidate as a “raghead”- an ethnic slur against East Indians.

He later issues a statement of “apology” claiming his comment was simply a joke.  He then adds the zinger: “if you were offended [by the ‘joke’], then I apologize.”

First it must be said that using racial slurs is never funny.  Calling a person a raghead isn’t comedy club worthy material. It’s racist.

But the politician, rather than giving a straight apology, instead uses rhetoric to provide cover for himself- and his racist words and state of mind.

By claiming his statement was a joke, he implies that those offended lack a sense of humor, thus the problem is not in his racist comment, but in those who were offended by it.

By adding “if” to his so-called apology, what he is really saying is “sorry you don’t have a sense of humor *shrug*.”

Politicians, public officials, personalities, rappers, actors and athletes are masters at giving the “if” apology.

But what are those people really saying and doing?  They aren’t apologizing.

Instead, in a very passive aggressive way, they’re shifting the responsibility of the situation back on to anyone other than themselves, as if the burden of proof hasn’t been met.

It’s saying “if I did that, I’m sorry,” instead of “I did that, and I’m sorry for it.”

The “if” apologizer should be called to the carpet at all times, for that wacktastic wordage is about the most inauthentic gesture a person can display and it is not a sign of personal accountability.

“If” leaves wiggle room for the possibility that the person using it didn’t really do anything bad or offensive- in which case, the person giving the non-apology apology isn’t actually sorry at all.

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