No Apology?

March 02, 2012

Over the past week, Republican presidential candidates have been attacking President Barack Obama for apologizing to Afghan leaders after copies of the Quran were burned by U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Obama rightfully apologized after it was discovered that copies of the Muslim holy book were improperly disposed of on a military base. The news of the burnings sparked anti-American violence, which Obama hoped to quell with his apology. Yet, most of the Republican presidential hopefuls decided to try and make the apology a political issue. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich jumped on the issue first, claiming Obama "surrendered" by apologizing (equating apologizing with surrendering might explain part of Gingrich's marital woes!). Gingrich also claimed the incident was not a big deal so Obama should not have apologized (doubt he would say the same if Bibles had been burned). Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum followed Gingrich by arguing the incident was not a big deal since it was "a mistake" and not done "deliberately" (apparently you only have to apology when you intentionally do something wrong!). Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who likes to frequently and inaccurately accuse Obama of always apologizing to the world, claimed the apology by Obama was "very difficult for the American people to countenance" and it "sticks in their throat." Only U.S. Representative Ron Paul refused to attack Obama for the apology. Good to see one presidential hopeful was not willing to try and manufacture a fake controversy in a desperate attempt to score cheap political points. The act of burning copies of the Quran was wrong and apologizing was the correct move--such as when then-President George W. Bush apologized after a U.S. soldier used a Quran as a shooting target. In reality, apologizing is pretty minor when compared to the seriousness of the incident for Muslims. And it is hard to imagine that any of the current Republican presidential candidates would actually have refused to apologize if they were currently president. The problem is not Obama's apology but the insincere attacks on Obama, which seem to play on the confessional politics whisper campaign that Obama is a secret Muslims who therefore gives preferential treatment to Muslims. This is dangerous territory to tread on, and hopefully the Republican presidential hopefuls will stop it. Perhaps they should even apologize for their attacks on this issue, but do not expect any apologies.