“…and I won’t apologize”

This cartoon was inspired by a friend of mine in the Ernie Pyle Scholar class of 2013. At least, the part about being genuinely apologetic was. Like most of my Ernie Pyle people, he’s a liberal, so the conservative spin is all mine.

This comment made me think about remorse. It’s kind of true: how many times a day do we say “sorry” and don’t mean it? I’m not talking about minor scrapes with others. When I bump into someone by accident, I say “sorry” or “excuse me” and don’t really sweat it. Neither does the person I’ve bumped into. We both understand that it was an accident. What I’m discussing here is true remorse. I’m talking about apologizing for when we have genuinely harmed someone due to maliciousness or negligence.

Society has developed to the point where things we should really be apologetic for are legitimized or excused, and we are made to feel ashamed of things that aren’t at all heinous in the name of furthering an agenda. “Tolerance” has been held up as the epitome of morality, and the lines of what is wrong and right have been blurred as a result. After all, what is the essence of tolerance but the elimination of judgment? How are we to decide what is the right course of action when we are told that good and bad and right and wrong are all just relative?

Of course, the relativity only extends as far as it’s convenient for someone’s agenda. How many times has it been demonstrated to you that reducing your carbon footprint has higher moral standing than waiting until marriage to have sex?

I was reminded of a song by Jon Kahn, written under the pseudonym Jon David, called “American Heart”:

I’m American made

I’ve got American parts

I’ve got American faith

In America’s heart

Go on, raise the flag

I’ve got stars in my eyes

I’m in love with her

And I won’t apologize

So often we are told that we need to be ashamed of this country, as if all the bad that has happened in our history outweighs the good. How often have you been told that this is a racist country? A bigoted country? A xenophobic country? An… intolerant country?

People don’t stop to think about just how unique America really is. In all of human history, has there ever been a country that has had so many different people yet such a pervasive and proud national identity? In all of human history, has there ever been a more humanitarian country, offering aid to the oppressed and ailing around the world? In all of human history, has there ever been a more responsible and fair country, conquering territory on the battlefield and turning it back over to the rightful owners when the conflict has resolved? What “empire” does that? I’ve long maintained that the surest evidence that America is not an empirical nation is that Canada still retains its sovereignty.

I do believe in American exceptionalism, I do believe in a civil society, and I do believe there are distinctions between right and wrong that aren’t subject to the whims of someone else’s agenda. Tell me I’m wrong, but don’t justify that declaration by calling me intolerant. If that’s what it takes for you to hear me say sorry, then I can assure you that the apology wasn’t really sincere.


3 thoughts on ““…and I won’t apologize”

  1. Tell me one country whose citizenry doesn’t have 50 reasons why they’re OMG LYK TEH BEST COUNTRY EVAR. It’s the same logic behind thinking your local sports team is better than everyone else’s… but at least in the latter case you’re not offering people a blank check to do utterly grotesque things to others (well… maybe in Baltimore and Oakland…).

    If you constantly surround yourself with naught but FoxNews/Andrew Breitbart/etc., you’re only ever going to hear about how perfect the United States (or at least the REAL ‘MERICANS, anyway) is, and you’re going to hear that the people who tell you otherwise believe as they do because they hate freedom/liberty/puppies/etc.
    The US, just like virtually every other country, has done some things over the past 200 years– to deny this is to deny that the victims of the atrocities in question were worthwhile as human beings. That doesn’t mean that America is inherently evil or that we should accept North Korea as our overlords, or something… no, it just means that our country isn’t perfect, and considering our state’s (or anyone else’s state’s) actions to be some moral standard is utterly foolish.

    If you’re curious about the world outside the tight filters of mainstream conservative media, I suggest (again) the book “A People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn. It’s free to read online (http://www.historyisaweapon.com/zinnapeopleshistory.html), and it comes highly recommended from a trusted source (;)). It’s actually not as pessimistic as you might think– the thesis isn’t so much “America is terrible” so much as it is “a lot of American a–holes have used their power in negative ways, and yet the American people fight for liberty and justice– and occasionally win– nonetheless.”

    • We’ve been over this before. I’m not arguing for pure nationalism, or that America is a perfect country, or that we’re a “moral standard.” I’m arguing that the principles that defined our founding and our unique position in history are exceptional.

      We have the most cosmopolitan society in world history. It is amazing that there hasn’t been more conflict between people from different backgrounds. Like any country, we have shameful things in our past. But the good far outweighs the bad. Our identity and our founding purpose have remained intact despite these events, and we have done so much good. We have been a beacon and example of freedom for countless revolutions across the world.

      I GET that we’re not perfect. I don’t need to read Zinn to get your point. AGAIN, I’m not arguing that we are. We are, however, exceptional. If perfection is the standard, you’re always going to fall short. What I protest is those that point at the bad things and say that we are a bad country, while ignoring all the good things. What I’m saying is that we are a great country despite these bad things, and sometimes because of how we overcame these bad things. I’m not “denying that the victims of the atrocities in question were worthwhile as human beings” by believing this.

      Again, we’ve argued this over and over, and you seem to think I’m delusional somehow. I just don’t think constantly tearing down the greatest example of a successful constitutional Republic is very helpful to us or to the world. We have a lot to be proud of.

      They say
      Our reputation
      Needs a new coat of paint
      And a delicate melody
      But I say
      I like the bruises
      And a melody don’t mean a thing
      If we don’t have the strength to sing

  2. Well, I do thank you for mentioning me in the first paragraph. I’m not too offended by the context – after all, if you publish this in 2008 and slap my name on it as author and I’d be grinning ear to ear.

    Congratulations on your victory, and I hope you can do something positive for this great country. (And THAT I genuinely mean.)

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