J and D's Corner

From the Letters Archive

To:    AV Press

Date: 10/2001

Re:  Apologists (aka: Probably Brutalized by the Watergate Revelations)  


Background:  After 9/11 you may recall there was for some weeks universal condemnation of the terrorists and (in America at least) dead silence from their supporters.  However, by the time of this letter the apologists were creeping back into the press, explaining how 9/11 could in no way be blamed on the terrorists....

I was musing the other night about apologists. You know, those people who are so inventive in shifting blame for a horrible crime away from the crime's perpetrators.

The process always plays out according to a precise script. The apologists are carrying on their normal activity, busily blaming someone else for all the routine nasty deeds of their chosen ones. Then their buddies do something really, really extra nasty. Like maybe kill a few thousand innocent people, or something. The script starts running. Momentarily there is shocked silence. Then a vast wave of public disgust monopolizes the media space, giving the apologists time to consider this new challenge. Slowly they rise to the occasion, and bit by bit they reclaim their space in the media.

Sometimes they can come up with some memorable rhetoric, and here is my all-time favorite from an earlier time of troubles: In San Francisco there were a batch of street criminal punks who hit on the scheme of recasting themselves as "revolutionaries", a term much in vogue at the time. At one point they robbed a liquor store, tied up the clerk and a couple of customers, one a woman as I recall, and executed them all with shots to the back of the head. Nasty business. When they were arrested the apologists were briefly in turmoil but again rose to the occasion, creating my all-time classic excuse. A Berkley academic, in a passionate speech, explained that it was not their fault at all, because they had been, and I quote, "brutalized by the Watergate revelations".

You gotta love those guys and gals.