Imagine that you were the head of a family-owned business that went bankrupt. At your closing board meeting, someone screams at you for putting aside some of the remaining funds for severance packages for long-time employees rather than devoting all the money to paying off bondholders.
So denounced, you might say “If you want an apology, forget it! I am not ashamed of helping people who loyally worked for my family for decades”.
You have been condemned for doing something of which you are not ashamed and indeed something you think is wrong to condemn at all. It is therefore perfectly reasonable for you to explicitly refuse to apologize as a way to stand up for your values.
BUT, refusal to apologize sure grates when no one has requested the apology.
Example #1: During the 2012 Presidential nomination race, Governor Rick Perry ran television spots in Iowa saying that he wasn’t ashamed of his Christian faith.
Who in Iowa ever said he *should* be ashamed of his faith? Who in the whole country said so? When in the history of the United States has *any* candidate been asked to apologize for being religious?
This is pre-emptive non-apology as self-flattery. Perry portrays himself as bravely facing down hordes of opponents who never condemned him in the first place. I didn’t know Saint Stephen, but Governor Perry, you are no Saint Stephen.
Example #2: In a widely circulated email, a college professor says “It’s about time we had a U.S. drug czar who is a person of color. I make no apology for my radical stance.”
Wow, that is so unapologetically *radical*. Where is my black beret when I need it? The problem for this rebel in ivy is that two of the six white house drug control policy office directors were people of color (Lee Brown and Bob Martinez), and no one ever said that was in any way problematic.
Again, pre-emptive apology as self-flattery. She is the one person brave enough to shock the complacent bourgeosie and their bigoted fellow travelers by proposing that the U.S. finally do something that it has done already. Would that we all had her courage and moral vision.
Summary of my old man’s rant: I want self-aggrandizing people to start apologizing for pre-emptively refusing to apologize when no one asked them to apologize in the first place.