Thursday, May 06, 2004

Terribly sorry

The New Republic has recently published two separate pieces about apologies: Jacob Levy argues that President Bush never apologizes for anything, while Chris Strohm analyzes recent public apologies for the events at Abu Ghraib, and finds most of them lacking.

This reminds me of the debate a few years ago about whether the U.S. government should apologize for slavery. My opinion was that we should just read Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address, which is much more eloquent than anything current speechwriters are likely to come up with. (It's especially poignant when you read it engraved in the wall of the Lincoln memorial.) Excerpt:

Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."
Unfortunately this doesn't meet the New Republic standards for apologies because it doesn't include the words "I'm Sorry."


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