Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Can’t You Take a Joke? — Update

Margaret Davenport, the Orange County, California, Republican party official who sent out an e-mail depicting President Obama as the child of chimpanzees, has apologized.

To my fellow Americans and to everyone else who has seen this email I forwarded and was offended by my action, I humbly apologize and ask for your forgiveness of my unwise behavior. I say unwise because at the time I received and forwarded the email, I didn’t stop to think about the historic implications and other examples of how this could be offensive.

Far be it from me to doubt her sincerity, and it’s an improvement on her first attempt right after the event: a typical non-apology issued by someone who is surprised when their racism or ignorance causes an outcry. And it’s far better than her initial response: “Oh, come on! Everybody who knows me knows that I am not a racist. It was a joke. I have friends who are black.” This time, Ms. Davenport seems honestly apologetic.

But I still think that anyone who has grown up in America in the last fifty years knows the racist connection between African-Americans and apes. So either Ms. Davenport is woefully sheltered from real life in America, or she knows of it and thinks it’s all just a big joke to indulge in stereotypes. (I’ll bet she knows some real knee-slappers about drunken Irishmen.) Hey, for a Republican, that’s a feature, not a bug.