Sunday, April 11, 2004

Over at The Chatelaine's Poetics, Leny Strobel writes in: Many white students earnestly believe they are not racist and yet can point to incidents and comments wherein they participate in racial acts including the act of being silent in the face of racial comments made by others.

Leny also assumes that Andrew Loewen "has issued some kind of apology." Eileen says she's not so sure. As far as I can tell, he hasn't. In his comments here, he does "concede" that his remarks were "totally ineffective," "stupid," "sick," "obscene," "flippant" and "thoughtless"; but almost all of these concessions are qualified in some way, and nowhere do I see the phrase "I am sorry" appear. His actual follow-up posts on the list have been far less self-flagellating; although they do say that his post "was not designed to offend" (though it was surely designed to provoke, no?), the overall tone (as I've already noted) has been one largely of condescension towards those who have criticized him--and certainly no gestures that would take responsibility, since all of his remarks' bad effects are still attributed to others' misreadings.

My sense, honestly, is that Loewen, as regretful as he may be that people responded to his post with hostility, does not really believe he has anything to apologize for. He does not take seriously what's been very clearly stated by a lot of people on and off list: that his comments had racist and sexist effects, and that whatever he thinks he intended, he should respond in a way that shows he actually understands how damaging his remarks were.

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