Apologizing for your very existence isn’t just for straight White guys anymore.
A coffee mug emblazoned with an apology for the dreaded trio of being straight, White and male now retails on Amazon for $12.95 with the sales pitch that it “makes a perfect gift for everyone.”
Once associated with Hollywood virtue signalers or those whose racist behavior was exposed by social media or video, apologizing for a White birthday suit has become more mainstream. Former CIA Director John O. Brennan, who currently opines as a paid MSNBC contributor, told the network’s audience last week that he was “increasingly embarrassed to be a white male.”
In Amherst, Massachusetts, the Town Council issued a letter of apology and recommended its members for anti-racism training after a White female councilor attempted to participate in a community safety working group that was drafting alternative policing proposals.
“As a Town Council of majority white people benefiting from white privilege, we need to continually push ourselves to be actively anti-racist and to be cognizant of the power dynamics that exist between us as elected officials and the members of the global majority including the Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) in our community,” the letter said.
The council approved the letter last month in an 8-1 vote.
Americans are rushing to apologize as their institutions are being infused with critical race theory, an academic viewpoint that White people, all of them to at least some degree, maintain social and economic advantage by oppressing people of color.
Meanwhile, The New York Times’ 1619 Project seeks to reframe the nation’s founding at the year when the first slave ship arrived on North American shores, making racism the dominant theme of the American experience.
The mindset is increasingly prevalent in schools, government and corporate America. Students and workers are put through classes and seminars that brand all White people as oppressors regardless of their conscious thoughts and actions toward others.
Charles Milliken, a former economics professor at Siena Heights University in Michigan, said it is pointless to apologize for the perceived original sin of skin color.
“It’s not really apologizing but being ashamed of ‘Whiteness,’” said Mr. Milliken, who is White. “They believe in injustice as defined by the left. That’s what they really mean. They see injustice everywhere and think, ‘This was started by White European males, and I must make amends for it.’”
Apologies for being White might be all the rage today, but momentum for racial self-flagellation has been building for years.
Actress Rosanna Arquette issued her beg for atonement in 2019.
“I’m sorry I was born white and privileged. It disgusts me,” Ms. Arquette said in a Twitter post. “And I feel so much shame.”
The Twitterati saw her existential shaming as more like self-promotion, and her feed exploded with criticism to the point that the FBI advised her to make her Twitter account private, USA Today reported.
A similar skepticism often greets these routine, rote pronouncements that skeptics say smack of a conformity akin to Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution.
“I’ve seen celebrities apologizing left and right, and it’s very ingenuine,” actress Gina Carano told Ben Shapiro in a podcast after her politically incorrect views cost her a job on Disney+ series “The Mandalorian.”
Brandi Miller, a former campus minister who now hosts a podcast called “Reclaiming My Theology,” said broad or knee-jerk apologies are pointless because they seem inauthentic and sometimes designed to put the spotlight on Black forgiveness.
“There is a lot of resourcing out there on how to apologize and, yes, when people find themselves in a place of racist wrongdoing, they ought to learn how to apologize and make amends for wrongs done,” she told The Washington Times. “However, what I am seeing lately is a trend where apologies essentially feel like progressive Mad-Libs with White people seeing what is beneficial or the path of least resistance in terms of accountability and filling in their situation to fit it.”
There is no imagined requirement for White people to issue some blanket apology for the skin they were born with, although some introspection on that is warranted. An apology untethered to individual action is meaningless, Ms. Miller said.
“Apologies in this way often are apologies in word only rather than contrition marked by individual and social change,” she said. “So when apologies themselves exist broadly and publicly, they must be backed with action as to not simply be and appear as pandering to progressive movements or ducking out of the negative publicity spotlight. So no, I don’t think all White people should apologize in general. It can serve as a social tool to relieve them of the felt pressure and need to make things right.”
Politicians are famous for apologizing, although expressing contrition for skin tone is relatively new.
As a presidential candidate in 2019, Joseph R. Biden apologized for praising former Democratic segregationist senators. Campaign rival Robert “Beto” O’Rourke bemoaned his birth color and privilege, and another Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, vowed to make amends for her “White privilege.”
“As a White woman who has certainly experienced enormous amounts of White privilege, I travel with a staff member who’s black and I see how she’s being treated differently when we walk into a hotel. I’ve seen, it and it infuriates me,” she said. “So if I don’t understand that it is my responsibility to lift up her voice, to lift up the voices of Black and Brown Americans every day, then I’m not doing my job as a U.S. senator and I’m not doing my job as a presidential candidate.”
• James Varney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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