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Please Stop Apologizing

Thursday, March 22, 2012

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Editors’ Note: While we typically would never give space to anything that Bill Maher had to say, we believe that this article is on the money. Even though Maher seems to heap much of his criticism of the “thin-skinned” attitude currently prevailing in American politics on the right, he is at least honest enough to admit that is a problem on both sides of the “aisle.” We agree with Maher to the extent that both sides need to get over their “offense” and get on with the pressing business of the country.


This week, Robert De Niro made a joke about first ladies, and Newt Gingrich said it was “inexcusable and the president should apologize for him.” Of course, if something is “inexcusable,” an apology doesn’t make any difference, but then again, neither does Newt Gingrich.

Mr. De Niro was speaking at a fund-raiser with the first lady, Michelle Obama. Here’s the joke: “Callista Gingrich. Karen Santorum. Ann Romney. Now do you really think our country is ready for a white first lady?”

The first lady’s press secretary declared the joke “inappropriate,” and Mr. De Niro said his remarks were “not meant to offend.” So, as these things go, even if the terrible damage can never be undone, at least the healing can begin. And we can move on to the next time we choose sides and pretend to be outraged about nothing.

When did we get it in our heads that we have the right to never hear anything we don’t like? In the last year, we’ve been shocked and appalled by the unbelievable insensitivity of Nike shoes, the Fighting Sioux, Hank Williams Jr., Cee Lo Green, Ashton Kutcher, Tracy Morgan, Don Imus, Kirk Cameron, Gilbert Gottfried, the Super Bowl halftime show and the ESPN guys who used the wrong cliché for Jeremy Lin after everyone else used all the others. Who can keep up?

Post Continues on www.nytimes.com

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