I don’t know why Americans think we should never apologize for anything. That’s not courteous, and it’s certainly not Christian. I was always taught that it takes the bigger man to make things right. I like to think that when it comes to morality, there is no bigger man on the world stage than America. People say apologizing is a sign of weakness. No, it’s a sign of strength.
Should we apologize for accidentally burning a bunch of Korans? Of course we should. We are guests (of sorts–we forced our way in, and no need to apologize for that) in Afghanistan, and we did something highly offensive in their culture. People are being killed because of what we did. If an apology helps calm things down, then do it (though it hasn’t done much good, apparently).
You’ll never hear Russia or China apologize for anything. But we’re bigger than that. We have more moral character. We claim to be based on Christian values. We can find it within us to say, “We made a terrible mistake, and we’re sorry.”
Rick Santorum, a man who claims Christian values, argues that since it was a mistake, we don’t have anything to apologize for. I’ve rarely heard anything so silly.
I apologize to people all the time for things I do accidentally. If I bump into you as we pass in the hall, I’ll say I’m sorry. If I spill coffee on your desk, or come late to an appointment because of something unforeseen, or mess up a song on Sunday morning, or forget a visitor’s name, or don’t understand what you said and ask you to repeat it–all the time, I’m apologizing for things I didn’t do intentionally. That’s just common courtesy. And sometimes we apologize for the actions of other people, actions we had no control over, like a waitress apologizing for a cook’s mistake, or a customer service rep apologizing because the warehouse sent me the wrong order.
We live in a courteous nation. I like that.
When we accidentally bombed and killed British and Canadian troops (on several occasions), you can be sure we apologized. No, we didn’t kill them accidentally. But we killed allied troops by mistake, and rightfully said we were sorry. We didn’t want to offend our friends by acting as if we hadn’t done anything wrong. But according to Rick Santorum, since it was purely accidental, there should have been no apology. Just tell the Brits and Canadians and their grieving families to let it go, because we did nothing wrong.
Now we have burned some holy books. But since it’s the Muslim holy book, it’s okay? Is that what we think?
You can bet there is an American military officer in Afghanistan, the guy in charge of whatever they were doing with those books, who has apologized profusely to superior officers for letting his men burn Korans. And probably apologized to his men for getting them in trouble. Mr. Santorum, are you saying this officer has nothing to apologize for–that it was just a careless mistake? And you shouldn’t apologize for a mere careless mistake?
A friend told me about an American Muslim woman who, whenever she stays in a hotel room, removes the Gideon Bible from the nightstand and places it in the highest location in the room. Why? Although she’s not a Christian, according to her Muslim culture religious books are sacred and should be treated with respect. Muslims burn American flags and hang our leaders in effigy. But, though I’m sure it happens, you don’t hear about Muslims burning Bibles. If they did, FoxNews would make sure we heard about it.
But people object, “Look at all the wrongs they’ve committed against us, and they don’t apologize.” So you’re saying, let’s throw out the Golden Rule? Declare that Jesus’ words don’t apply to us?
By treating people like we want to be treated–even if there’s little hope of them returning the favor–we are modeling something for the rest of the world. We are modeling our Judeo-Christian values, upon which our country was founded. We are, in fact, according to Proverbs 25, “heaping burning coals” on the heads of Russians and Chinese and radical Muslims, who wouldn’t stoop to admitting wrong.
If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;
if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head,
and the Lord will reward you.
Why doesn’t Santorum want to heap burning coals on the heads of our enemies? Why is he coddling terrorists? (I jest, I jest!)
In my view, an apology for burning Korans was totally appropriate. It didn’t necessarily need to come from the president. But it was necessary. Because America is a nation of moral character and of strength.
If you disagree–well, I’m real sorry about that.