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Keeler: Sorry if the apologizing bothers you

"If this imaginary apology tour were really going

"If this imaginary apology tour were really going on," writes Bob Keeler, "what would the fantasty apologizer be apologizing for?" Credit: Photo

Let me apologize to you in advance for writing about the manly art of never apologizing.

Some politicians are saying that other politicians are apologizing for America. Just Google " 'apologizing for America,' " and you'll get 354,000 hits.

If this imaginary apology tour were really going on, what would the fantasy apologizer be apologizing for, actually? The national parks? The Constitution? Jazz? Baseball? (OK, maybe for the designated hitter.)

No, any apologizing that might be going on -- but really is not -- would involve contrition for the transgressions of, you know, the government.

There's so much illogical thinking to this. No, I didn't take logic in college. But, to paraphrase what the Supreme Court once opined about pornography, you know illogic when you see it. And here's the illogic that's perplexing me: Those who distrust government go on and on about big government taking over our lives, stealing our liberties, turning us into dependent victims. But if they don't like government, why are they so fearful that someone somewhere is apologizing for the wrongdoings of America's government?

If government is bad at home, as its detractors believe, what would be so horrible about apologizing for the nasty stuff it does overseas?

So the government is plotting to steal liberties at home. Its doings are so nefarious that we have to pass voter ID laws to keep its agents from reaping tainted votes from unworthy people. But if some imaginary public official were to apologize, for example, to the people of Iran, because our government stole their election in 1953, government-haters would hate that apology. Why? We Must Never Apologize for America.

You can look it up: A CIA-hatched coup toppled the legally elected prime minister of Iran, Mohammad Mossadegh. His crime: The cheeky notion that Iran should get a fairer share of the profits from Iran's oil than the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (the predecessor of BP) was willing to give.

The Mossadegh government sought redress by nationalizing the oil industry. What followed was the coup, courtesy of the CIA and the British Secret Intelligence Service. In place of the elected leader, the U.S. government maneuvered into power Mohammad Reza Shah. He was a great ally of our government, but the Iranian people detested his hideously oppressive secret police.

Then, in 1979, came the revolution. The mullahs reacted harshly to a quarter-century of our pal, the shah. Not surprisingly, they detested the U.S. government -- the same one that later sided with Iraq against Iran in a ruinous war. The same one that later turned on Iraq and invaded it, starting an unnecessary war that toppled our former friend, Saddam Hussein, but also left a devastated country, more than 5,000 dead Americans and uncountable thousands of dead Iraqis.

The list of nasty interventions by our government is so long that full apologies to all the people we have hurt around the globe would require the creation of a cabinet-level Department of Oops, We Beg Your Pardon. But to pick just two nations close to home, CIA-encouraged coups toppled elected leaders in Guatemala and Chile, leaving those nations in the hands of thugs who murdered their people but were true lackeys of our -- that word again -- government.

The only possible answer to the logical lapse of government-haters hating apologies for government wrongdoing is this: They detest the part of the government that tries to regulate greed and help the poor. But the part that crushes the aspirations of people all over the planet? Hey, it's just fine.

Bob Keeler is a member of the Newsday editorial board.