“What really saddens me is that my poorly chosen words caused pain for some members of our community and for that I offer a most sincere and heartfelt apology. Hurting others is diametrically opposed to who I am and what I believe. There are many lessons to be learned when venturing into the political world and this is one I will not forget. Although I do believe marriage is between a man and a woman, there are much less offensive ways to make that point. I hope all will look at a lifetime of service over some poorly chosen words.”
Perhaps it adds some clarity to an earlier consideration: It didn’t really mean anything.
Dr. Benjamin Carson has offered an apology for having reiterated a twenty-year stale talking point about homosexuals, child molesters, and cross-species rapists, but it is nonetheless a strange apology:
Step One: The pseudo apology: Last Friday, Carson told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell he was sorry “if anybody was offended” by his anti-gay comments. No one seemed especially impressed by the quintessential non-apology apology.
Step Two: Lashing out at critics: When the criticism continued, Carson appeared on a right-wing radio show to blame his detractors, insisting that white liberals are “the most racist people there are.” He added that his critics are outraged because he dared to “come off the plantation.”
Step Three: Contrition: Dr. Paul Rothman, the dean of the medical faculty at Johns Hopkins and the CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine, where Carson has been a celebrated colleague, condemned Carson’s “hurtful, offensive language” that was “inconsistent with the culture of our institution.” Immediately thereafter, Carson published an apology to “the Hopkins Community.”
If nothing else, it (ahem!) colors the context of Carson’s “plantation” remark.
But Benen’s summary is also slightly softball. He makes two important points; Carson is backing away from accusing his critics of racism, and, yes, the new conservative’s rising star is a good study of the transition into the national political spotlight. However, the pseudo- or non-apology is essentially still in effect. While Carson first followed the, “I’m sorry if you got pissed off at what I said”, route, he has not advanced to the, “I’m sorry for saying something stupid and cruel”, approach. Rather, he is trying for a middling apology aside: “My Johns Hopkins friends, I’m sorry if all the people who decided their feelings are hurt about what I said are giving you a headache.”
And the notion that Dr. Carson is giving the LGBTQ community the finger by apologizing to his friends who might be distressed at being even remotely connected to a controversy? Well, that’s nothing new at all, is it?
Remember, though: He’s not a bad guy; he’s just a conservative.