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I apologize if I have offended anyone

Written By Kenneth Brooks on 08-29-2009 | in Political, Race, Human Relations, Critical Thinking,

Once again, a political leader expressed ambiguously, “I apologize if I have offended anyone” to cover for bigotry. This time Kansas Republican Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins made the traditional apologetic non-apology for her questionable remark. She said the Republican Party was still searching for a "great white hope" to stop President Barack Obama's political agenda.

"I was unaware of any negative connotation, and if I offended anybody, obviously, I apologize," Jenkins told the Lawrence Journal-World. She claimed that she meant only that the GOP needs “a bright light.” I believe her. Nevertheless, this excuse still places her in the bigot’s category.

Random House Webster College Dictionary defines “great white hope” as “a person who is expected to accomplish much in a given field.” This replaces the former sports definition “a white man who had a good chance of winning the heavyweight boxing championship from a black man.” Although seemingly different, both definitions center on a racist conclusion that only "white" people’s accomplishments are significant or worthy of interest. It reminds me of the old racist term, “that is white of you”.

“I apologize if I have offended anyone.” By this remark, Jenkins shows that she disagrees she said anything wrong. Nevertheless, she expresses some concern to prevent other people’s wrong reaction to the remark from harming her politically.

People sometime unthinkingly use words or expressions they learned in their youth without considering their implications. However, sincere people do not apologize for using them. They admit the expression’s inappropriateness if it does not accurately reflect their thinking and remove it from their vocabulary. For example, Jenkins could have said, “This expression does have racist implications that do not reflect my or the Republican Party’s views. From here forward, I delete it from my vocabulary.”

People can be racist or bigots without conscious hatred for another group if they lack the ability to reason outside a bigot’s perspective. The remark that Republicans look for a “great white hope” carries racist implications even as a general expression. It tells people not labeled white the Republican Party does not rate them leadership material. Jenkins should have realized this except she seems unable to reason outside a bigot’s perspective. On the other hand, she may have expressed exactly what she intended, but lacks the integrity to stand by her remarks.

I find it comical that Jenkins believes she is so superior and important that we Americans labeled non-white need her obviously insincere apology to bolster our self-esteem. She only proved herself a hypocrite without the integrity needed for leadership. Jenkins did not have to apologize for her remarks on my behalf. I took no offense from them. She and other Republicans have a right to decide their party needs a white-labeled leader to rescue it. I and other fair-minded Americans have an equal right to take notice of this type thinking and to reject their leadership based on it.

on 2009-08-29 13:01:39
I hadn't heard this remark but find it interesting. One cannot use the words "black" and "white" in today's political area without some racial connotation being assigned to it. I agree with you that it doesn't bother me. It just shows how pathetic the Republican Party really is. The fact that the Republican Party has no real leader--"black" or "white"--speaks volumes as to their leadership void.

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