Monday, June 20, 2011

NBC and Insincere Apologizing "To Those Who Were Offended"

--Richard E. Vatz

Lisa de Moraes of The Washington Post reports that "NBC has apologized for cutting the 'under God, indivisible' part of the Pledge of Allegiance in a clip during Sunday’s coverage of the U.S. Open." The editing out of that part of the Pledge, said announcer Dan Hicks during the broadcast, "was not done to upset anyone, and we'd like to apologize to those of you who were offended by it."

Please, pseudo-contrite ones, forever spare us from apologies made disingenuously to "those who were offended."

How can I put this more clearly: a qualified apology implies that you do not authentically regret that which you did, but only that you are sorry that someone took umbrage.

Moreover, there is no explanation of the mechanism that led to the elimination of the religious reference -- was it intentional? Was it unintentional? Was it a coincidence that the controversial section of the Pledge was omitted? Was the "indivisible" left out to give cover to the strategic elimination of "under God?"

We don't know, but NBC in its cute way avoids what the following simple, unambiguous statement of apology could virtually eliminate, doubt that they are sorry for what they did. They could simply say: "We are embarrassed and sincerely regret leaving out 'under God, indivisible' from the Pledge of Allegiance in our U.S. Open coverage. It will not happen again."

Cute locutions are incompatible with sincere statements lamenting a mistake.

Prof. Vatz teaches political rhetoric at Towson University


John J. Walters said...

A truly cowardly maneuver...

Too scared to include those words in the Pledge of Allegiance, but too scared not to apologize for omitting them.

This is the sort of double-speak that political correctness encourages.

Bruce said...

There may be valid reasons for leaving out those words. Among them:

1) A respect for the name of the Deity such that it should not be turned into nationalistic sport

2) A political/philosophical disagreement with the decision to change the pledge in the 1950's during the Red Scare

3) A respect for the idea that if we are indeed indivisible, we should not divide on the issue of the nation being or not being under a/the Deity.

4) Advocacy for atheism itself - probably not a popular viewpoint here, but a logical ground on which to modify the pledge either in Congress or in use.

NBC wimped out by failing to apologize meaningfully OR to defend their decision. They deserve mockery.

John J. Walters said...

Interesting points, Bruce.

I agree that they should have actually made a choice and stuck with it. Even if they had then made a choice with which I disagreed, at least I could have respected that.