December 06, 2010

Bloomberg didn't offend Indians?

Bloomberg’s ‘non-apology’ apology

By Ray HalbritterAt a Harvard panel discussion on live television Nov. 1 about the midterm elections, a student in the audience confronted Bloomberg about his remarks, giving the mayor an opportunity to belatedly acknowledge and atone for his insensitivity. This time, Bloomberg could not hide behind others to do his bidding.

Bloomberg again displayed his arrogance and his utter lack of respect for Native people. He uttered a classic non-apology apology. He does not regret making his comment--he regrets only “if” people were offended by them. Once again, Bloomberg hides, this time behind word-play and semantics.

“I don’t know that there were very many Indians offended. If they were, I apologize to them,” he said.

A protest at City Hall; innumerable letters from Indian leaders sent directly to the mayor; resolutions condemning his remarks and requesting an apology--a genuine apology--from two of the largest Indian organizations in the United States. And Mayor Bloomberg doesn’t think very many Indians were offended? What do we have to do to get him to take us seriously--build a ceremonial retreat two blocks from the World Trade Center site?

Mayor Bloomberg didn’t invoke the Crusades when he involved himself in the controversy over the Islamic community center near Ground Zero. Why does he continue to think that invoking the Old West--the violent invasion and attempted eradication of the indigenous people here--is not offensive to Indians? Is it because the Indians remaining here today don’t have the numbers to help him get reelected? Or is it because he still views Native people as somehow subhuman, not deserving of ordinary courtesy and respect as should be afforded to all people. Leaders should treat all people with respect, not limited to those who share their opinions on sensitive issues.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Bloomberg Halfheartedly Apologizes and Halbritter:  Indians Must Speak Up.

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