Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia congresswoman and former QAnon supporter, may have apologised when she met with fellow House Republicans on Feb. 3. She may have, or she could not have.
We don’t know what happened during the closed-door meeting where Greene’s conspiracy theories were discussed since, well, it was behind closed doors.
Greene’s remarks were described as an apology by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who said Greene had denounced her previous statements and social media postings – which included the idea that mass school shootings are “false flag” operations and that California forest fires are caused by Jewish space lasers – and that “she said she was wrong.”
Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, one of ten Republicans who voted in favour of impeaching Donald Trump in 2021, had a different perspective: “She appeared to be remorseful, but I never heard an apology.” “I didn’t hear a ‘I’m going to say this publicly,’” he continued.
Sorry appears to be the most difficult word to say.
According to Erving Goffman, a Canadian sociologist, an apology is “a division of the self into a blameworthy portion and a part that stands back and sympathises with the one who is blaming.” Goffman continues, “After an offence has happened, the person apologizing’s task is to demonstrate a comprehension of the norm breached and the suffering caused.”
In reality, this implies that offenders must first acknowledge what they did wrong and then demonstrate that they accept responsibility for their actions. To be considered a real apology, it must be delivered with sincerity and a sense of how the offender would behave differently in the future.
A public apology that incorporates these four parts – admitting the wrongdoing, acknowledging responsibility, honestly accepting blame, and promising to act differently – can help rebuild a relationship or even salvage a reputation.
Even if we accept McCarthy’s word for it that an apology was made in Greene’s instance, we have no idea which aspects of her endorsement of QAnon and other theories she apologised for.
Greene took to the House floor the day following the Republican conference meeting and said of her previous statements, “These were words of the past, and these things do not represent me, they do not represent my district, and they do not represent my principles.”
‘Mistakes were made,’ says the author.
Part of the problem stems from a community’s loss of shared standards. For a scholar like Goffman, it was assumed that an apology reflected accepted social standards.
Gone are the days when Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy could agree, as they did in their second debate in 1960, that the US should apologise when it makes a mistake, such as when a long-planned Paris summit in 1960 fell apart after it was revealed that the US had covered up spy plane flights over the Soviet Union. Naturally, they differed on whether the United States was at fault, but they agreed that an apology was occasionally appropriate.