“Sorry if you were offended” does not cut it, Diane

When Diane Abbott apologised for “any offence caused” over her racist comments, it was not a real apology - which is worse than none at all.

 

Last month, Left Foot Forward criticised Nazi-theme party attender/organiser Tory MP Aiden Burley for his non-apology over the issue.

Alex Hern wrote:

The MP has apologised – twice – albeit choosing his words carefully.

His first apology came in the original article:

“There was clearly inappropriate behaviour by some of the other guests and I deeply regret that this happened.

“I am extremely sorry for any offence that will undoubtedly have been caused.”

He made a similar statement on Twitter the day after. It may simply be that he doesn’t know that “I’m sorry” and “I’m sorry other people were bad and that you were offended” are different, but as apologies go, it leaves much to be desired.

Well, Diane Abbott has pulled a similar trick with her non-apology, following her twitter comments last night that ‘White people love playing divide & rule’

She said:

“I understand people have interpreted my comments as making generalisations about white people.

“I do not believe in doing that. I apologise for any offence caused.”

Something is either OK or is wrong. If it is OK, there’s no need for an apology but if it’s wrong, one is needed.

What Diane Abbott said was wrong and she needs to apologise for it – not any effect it had. Politicans need to learn that a weasel-worded apology is worse than none at all.

See also:

• Nazi Party Tory is sorry you were offended – Alex Hern, December 12th 2011

Action must be taken whenever racism rears its ugly head – including in sportSabby Dhalu, December 13th 2011

Too many on the Left are continuing to promote Islamic extremistsGeorge Readings, November 12th 2011

Four old acquaintances that Livingstone should forget – Daniel Elton, May 3rd 2011

The dehumanising rhetoric undermining the student movement – David Barclay, April 17th 2011

46 Responses to ““Sorry if you were offended” does not cut it, Diane”

  1. Natalie Dzerins

    I agree that Diane Abbott should not have apologised ‘if people were offended’. I must, however, question how many people were actually offended? I mean, actually viscerally reminded of their own oppression and place lower down in the socio-economic pecking order and inherent discrimination by forms of power and all that? Not just wanted to have a cheap shot at a non-white female member of the Labour party? Because I’m guessing that number is somewhere between no one and zero. People need to get a grip on this, it’s purely ridiculous posturing-as-victims by some of the most powerful people in the country.

  2. Deri Jones

    The two are not even slightly similar: see below, source follows.

    Because when a white person gets a chance to brand a black person racist, especially in the wake of the Lawrence verdict, they give themselves permission to pretend that privilege and power and the kind of deep-seated racism that ruins people’s lives are things that don’t exist anymore.

    //33revolutionsperminute.wordpress.com/2012/01/05/racism-vs-racism-why-diane-abbott-was-right/

  3. Jonathan Bishop

    The person who wrote this article is a racist bigot. I say that as someone whose race is Caucasian and whose ethnicity is ‘Mixed – Black and White’. By bigots not accepting there are differences between ‘Black’ and ‘White’ people, they are proving nothing has been learned since the Stephen Lawrence Report, which said by not accepting there are differences between races, ethnicities, colours, creeds, etc., persons are being ‘Institutionally Racist’.

    Please read some of my research and writing on ‘Black’ and ‘White’ culture:

    //www.scribd.com/doc/7710237/Building-Social-and-Economic-Relationships-through-Avatars-and-Characters

    //www.opednews.com/articles/Is-White-Culture-crippli-by-Jonathan-Bishop-111222-931.html

  4. Anthony

    “Something is either OK or is wrong”
    I don’t believe everything can really be seen as that black or white (for want of a more appropriate phrase). Context genuinely blurs the lines and anything one says on twitter can be open to rabid misinterpretation, often to suit the ends of the accusers (for instance the Tory MP who jumped on Abbott in this case clearly hoping to score some points). Abbotts comment was clearly badly judged for an MP, but if she didn’t mean any offence all she can really do is apologise if some was caused right? It’s like playing tennis and accidentally hitting your opponent in the head with the ball, you say “Sorry I didn’t mean to hurt you”. I don’t really understand what you’re asking for?

  5. Roger Spackman

    Dianne should have chosen her words more carefully, the problem is that Twitter by it’s very nature encourages people to spurt off random thoughts, and worse yet limits the length of your thought to something ridiculously short, perhaps a more important campaign would be get twitter to allow longer tweets so people can express themselves more accurately.

  6. therightleft

    RT @leftfootfwd: “Sorry if you were offended” does not cut it, Diane //t.co/lYB0ziXi Quite right too, from @danielelton

  7. Lizmcshane

    I would strongly suggest for people to read Mark Ferguson’s analysis on Labour List – a very balanced analysis. Here’s the link:

    //labourlist.org/2012/01/abbott-white-people-and-twitter/

  8. Kerrirenee

    You need to ‘guess’ again. I am genuinely offended. How dare someone who has never met me and knows nothing about me, publicly claim what games I like to ‘play’. It is ignorant in the extreme, not to mention completely inaccurate.
    Racism in any form is not acceptable and should not be tolerated, much less justified. She doesn’t need to apologise for offence caused, she needs to apologise for failing as a citizen and a politician.

  9. Dominic Pendry

    RT @leftfootfwd: “Sorry if you were offended” does not cut it, Diane //t.co/w4c7E6U0

  10. David Mills

    RT @leftfootfwd: “Sorry if you were offended” does not cut it, Diane //t.co/lYB0ziXi Quite right too, from @danielelton

  11. Anonymous

    What’s the problem?

    Some bankers screwed up or committed crimes, so Labour thinks all bankers must be punished.

    Some blacks stab people, so does Labour think all blacks are criminals?

    Sweeping generalisations when its suits, naughty Diane Abbot when its embarrassing.

  12. Ray Duffy

    “Sorry if you were offended” does not cut it, Diane: //t.co/1EJgXkuc – @DanielElton on the Diane Abbott race row ‘apology’

  13. frank

    As a white man I can say that I wasnt in the least offended by Diane Aboot’s comments. Is it not true that white people do conspire against black people? Isn’t that what the term ‘institutional racism’ means?
    Macpherson established this as fact- beyond doubt. If it doesnt mean that, it means nothing. Not for the first time the victim (a black women) is treated as the perpetrator.

  14. Natalie Dzerins

    Pull the other one. She was tweeting, a medium which allows 140 characters. Look at a history book for examples of colonialism. Click some of the other links in comments.

    Also, I’d suggest you read up on power systems and what oppression means. You may have a busy day ahead.

    I’ll just leave this link here: //www.dailykos.com/story/2010/07/15/884649/-Why-theres-no-such-thing-as-Reverse-Racism

  15. Selohesra

    Credit where its due you are being consistant – the left cannot go for the faux outrage when a Tory makes remarks like that and then let her get away with it. Having said that I doubt anyone is really offended by her remarks and the reaction is really fueled by revenge for similar attacks by Labour on their opponents recently. I actually quite like Dianne – seems to have more of a human side than some politicians

  16. Anonymous

    Fuck off LFF, she was damn right! Get down off your sanctimonious soap box and consult some history books instead. Poor souls, is this all you’ve got to occupy your days? Pitiful!

  17. Josu Mnez De Arriaga

    “Sorry if you were offended” does not cut it, Diane: //t.co/1EJgXkuc – @DanielElton on the Diane Abbott race row ‘apology’

  18. Liverpool fans backing Suarez, Lefties backing Abbott... When tribalism trumps reason | Left Foot Forward

    […] Another day, another story about racism, another race row – with Diane Abbott in the spotlight today for her offensive remarks about how “white people love playing ‘divide and rule’”. She has since deleted the tweet and issued an apology, not for the comments themselves but ”for any offence caused” – the classic non-apology. […]

  19. Altered Squid

    RT @leftfootfwd: “Sorry if you were offended” does not cut it, Diane: //t.co/jSNWzkmx – @DanielElton on Diane Abbott race row ‘apology’

  20. Kerrirenee

    Your assumption that I am ignorant to examples of colonialism and powers systems is laughable. As is that ridiculous article you shared a link too.
    I sincerely doubt you, yourself have ever experienced first hand ‘oppression’ except for that which you have created for yourself by your skewed perceptions.

    This of course is completely irrelevant. The point is, her pathetic and insincere apology is insufficient.

  21. Guy Halsall

    I guess my view comes mid-way between those of the commenters below. I think Abbott’s was a foolish and prejudiced comment (the comment, n.b., not the person), and for that a genuine apology is necessary. But it was not racist, as I argue at some length here:
    //600transformer.blogspot.com/2012/01/diane-abbott-idiot-maybe-but-not-racist.html

  22. Anonymous

    If you know that what she said does not apply to you, why are you offended? A better phrase would have been ‘ruling elite’ to avoid any misinterpretation, deliberate or otherwise, but it was clear who she was talking about in the tweet. I know that and if you don’t then wise up. If you do.. grow up.

  23. Anonymous

    psst… she wasn’t talking about you. Context, context, context. Off you pop.

  24. Natalie Dzerins

    Like Kerrirenee would let that get in the way of pretending to be oppressed by one person.

  25. Kerrirenee

    Ohhh I see! Racism in “context” i.e shoehorning any sort of reference to events that occurred between 1500 – 1800 and ignoring thousands of years of global history and current events makes it perfectly acceptable, even if you are spouting your inaccurate bile in present tense!
    So when she says ‘lets not play their game’ she’s obviously referring to a ‘game’ that ended over 200 years ago right? Do you think they got the message? Will this change history?
    It probably will change the future though, in the form of a huge loss of votes for herself and the labour party. The truth of the matter is, whether you agree with it or not, it HAS offended a lot of people and was a completely stupid thing for an MP to say.

  26. Kerrirenee

    Ohhh I see! Racism in “context” i.e shoehorning any sort of reference to events that occurred between 1500 – 1800 and ignoring thousands of years of global history and current events makes it perfectly acceptable, even if you are spouting your inaccurate bile in present tense!
    So when she says ‘lets not play their game’ she’s obviously referring to a ‘game’ that ended over 200 years ago right? Do you think they got the message? Will this change history?
    It probably will change the future though, in the form of a huge loss of votes for herself and the labour party. The truth of the matter is, whether you agree with it or not, it HAS offended a lot of people and was a completely stupid thing for an MP to say.

  27. Ed's Talking Balls

    Do you mean to say that Diane Abbott is a victim in this? Do you feel that she isn’t the perpetrator?

    If so, I’m puzzled. How on earth can an educated woman in public office who generalises about a race be a victim and, further, how can the author of offensive words not be a perpetrator?

    Too many excuses are being made for this piece of work. To their credit, Daniel Elton and Shamik, in his piece, aren’t prepared to adhere to petty tribalism like other Labour stooges elsewhere.

  28. Ed's Talking Balls

    True, humans do make mistakes. Then again, they sometimes learn from them too…

  29. Ed's Talking Balls

    True, humans do make mistakes. Then again, they sometimes learn from them too…

  30. Daniela Midjecal Jurczyk

    She isn’t pretending to be oppressed, at no point did she ever mention feeling oppressed. She did say she was OFFENDED, like a lot of people are. OFFENCE and OPPRESSION are different you know?!
    I also read the link you posted. Whilst I think the term reverse racism is stupid, (racism is racism, surely reverse racism means non discriminatory) It is completely stupid to say only white people are capable of being racist. Did you know worldwide less than 25% of the population are white? Which completely collapses the argument that the article makes.
    Anyone who is in anyway racist shouldn’t keep there job. I think she can shove her apology up her @rse and should be sacked.
    Also John, even read in context she does refer to whites – not historical whites, not some whites, not whites in power or whites in the media, but whites. So that does mean people like kerrirenee. She has also made a whole load of racist comments in the past, like how west indian mothers are better than others, David cameron is a posh white boy and that when public service sector jobs are lost white men should loose their jobs but not blacks. People who are crap at there jobs should go first – like her.

  31. Daniela Midjecal Jurczyk

    She isn’t pretending to be oppressed, at no point did she ever mention feeling oppressed. She did say she was OFFENDED, like a lot of people are. OFFENCE and OPPRESSION are different you know?!
    I also read the link you posted. Whilst I think the term reverse racism is stupid, (racism is racism, surely reverse racism means non discriminatory) It is completely stupid to say only white people are capable of being racist. Did you know worldwide less than 25% of the population are white? Which completely collapses the argument that the article makes.
    Anyone who is in anyway racist shouldn’t keep there job. I think she can shove her apology up her @rse and should be sacked.
    Also John, even read in context she does refer to whites – not historical whites, not some whites, not whites in power or whites in the media, but whites. So that does mean people like kerrirenee. She has also made a whole load of racist comments in the past, like how west indian mothers are better than others, David cameron is a posh white boy and that when public service sector jobs are lost white men should loose their jobs but not blacks. People who are crap at there jobs should go first – like her.

  32. Nishma Doshi

    @NilamAtodaria did you see this: //t.co/DaRUHULO ? WTF?!

  33. Nishma Doshi

    How to know that @leftfootfwd is made of New Labour twats: //t.co/b89xOXmK

  34. Liam Barrington-Bush

    I think the ‘something is right or wrong’ dialogue is where this article screwed up… Dianne Abbott wasn’t very tactful. More nuance would have made her point stronger. That’s totally different from ‘racism’ or ‘reverse racism’ or anything else… if someone being offended by something makes it ‘wrong’ and requiring of an apology, any opinion would qualify. This approach doesn’t promote healthy dialogue. I think Abbott’s response was appropriate for the worrisome over-reaction of liberal whites who happen to have a tender spot about being reminded that we were born with privilege and thus whether we like it or not, there are ways in which we continue to reinforce systems of oppression.

    More fundamentally, the telling thing to me in many of the comments, and from this article itself, is that there are supposedly progressive white people who really feel this is a fight worth fighting. THAT is as much an indicator of privilege as anything else – that the worst thing you have experienced, in a time when the Government is exterminating the welfare state, is an MP making a slight generalisation on Twitter (a platform that practically enforces generalisation, due to the character limit)! Honestly?! Really?

    To those who are really concerned with fighting oppression, I’m sure you can find better things to do with yourselves – the implications of that Tweet are minimal at worst. The implications of trying to keep a dialogue about white privilege out of the open are potentially devastating…

  35. Liam Barrington-Bush

    I think the ‘something is right or wrong’ dialogue is where this article screwed up… Dianne Abbott wasn’t very tactful. More nuance would have made her point stronger. That’s totally different from ‘racism’ or ‘reverse racism’ or anything else… if someone being offended by something makes it ‘wrong’ and requiring of an apology, any opinion would qualify. This approach doesn’t promote healthy dialogue. I think Abbott’s response was appropriate for the worrisome over-reaction of liberal whites who happen to have a tender spot about being reminded that we were born with privilege and thus whether we like it or not, there are ways in which we continue to reinforce systems of oppression.

    More fundamentally, the telling thing to me in many of the comments, and from this article itself, is that there are supposedly progressive white people who really feel this is a fight worth fighting. THAT is as much an indicator of privilege as anything else – that the worst thing you have experienced, in a time when the Government is exterminating the welfare state, is an MP making a slight generalisation on Twitter (a platform that practically enforces generalisation, due to the character limit)! Honestly?! Really?

    To those who are really concerned with fighting oppression, I’m sure you can find better things to do with yourselves – the implications of that Tweet are minimal at worst. The implications of trying to keep a dialogue about white privilege out of the open are potentially devastating…

  36. Liam Barrington-Bush

    I think the ‘something is right or wrong’ dialogue is where this article screwed up… Dianne Abbott wasn’t very tactful. More nuance would have made her point stronger. That’s totally different from ‘racism’ or ‘reverse racism’ or anything else… if someone being offended by something makes it ‘wrong’ and requiring of an apology, any opinion would qualify. This approach doesn’t promote healthy dialogue. I think Abbott’s response was appropriate for the worrisome over-reaction of liberal whites who happen to have a tender spot about being reminded that we were born with privilege and thus whether we like it or not, there are ways in which we continue to reinforce systems of oppression.

    More fundamentally, the telling thing to me in many of the comments, and from this article itself, is that there are supposedly progressive white people who really feel this is a fight worth fighting. THAT is as much an indicator of privilege as anything else – that the worst thing you have experienced, in a time when the Government is exterminating the welfare state, is an MP making a slight generalisation on Twitter (a platform that practically enforces generalisation, due to the character limit)! Honestly?! Really?

    To those who are really concerned with fighting oppression, I’m sure you can find better things to do with yourselves – the implications of that Tweet are minimal at worst. The implications of trying to keep a dialogue about white privilege out of the open are potentially devastating…

  37. Liam Barrington-Bush

    White liberals getting up in arms over 1 poorly phrased Tweet about white people by @HackneyAbbott: //t.co/K4C1Xu0v via @nishmadoshi

  38. HarpyMarx

    How to know that @leftfootfwd is made of New Labour twats: //t.co/b89xOXmK

  39. Anonymous

    Sorry did I say that? No I didn’t. Its clear she meant the ruling elite because that was the topic of conversation at hand, she didn’t mean ALL white people. And if you know it doesn’t apply to you, why the bloody hell are you so offended?

  40. Anonymous

    Sorry did I say that? No I didn’t. Its clear she meant the ruling elite because that was the topic of conversation at hand, she didn’t mean ALL white people. And if you know it doesn’t apply to you, why the bloody hell are you so offended?

  41. william edwards

    RT @leftfootfwd: “Sorry if you were offended” does not cut it, Diane //t.co/OsGpifRT

  42. Knut Cayce

    RT @leftfootfwd: “Sorry if you were offended” does not cut it, Diane //t.co/xxCECo1o #Abbott

  43. Blake Fitch

    RT @leftfootfwd: “Sorry if you were offended” does not cut it, Diane //t.co/xxCECo1o #Abbott

  44. nana

    Kerrirenee

    From your own drab comments, YOU HAVE NEVER EXPERIENCED THE CONSTANT DEEP ROOTED RACISM PRACTICED BY WHITES!

    As a black person, Miss Abbott’s statement rings so true. I experience it daily. The only thing I can say is that white people DO NOT BLACKS TO TELL THEM THAT THEY ARE RACIST.

    Whether they like it or not, they are INHERENTLY RACIST (talking from 34 years experience in the UK).

    When you accept that you have a fault (instead of denying it), then you can truly look at how to correct that fault. The wording Miss Abbott has used in her ‘apology’ is even better than any white person would give to the black community. A white person would deem it stooping too low to apologize. instead they come smiling with gifts and expect that to compensate for their offense. Only to continue their ugly racism again and can never understand a black person from being upset or angry. WE ARE FED UP.

    next time a black colleague at work (if there are any in your work place) is being ill treated – open your mind and eyes and ears (if you dare) and you will see that your white colleagues are practicing racism. secondly they exercise ‘Divide and rule’ to stop other colleagues from giving that black person support. this divide and rule practice will first be applied to other black staff so that blacks don;t talk to each other in the work place!

  45. The hidden legacy of the Stephen Lawrence case | Left Foot Forward

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