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Twenty years ago, I edited a collection of speeches, songs, and statements that in my opinion defined the nation. It is called “The American Reader: Words That Shaped a Nation.” If I were revising it today, I would add the brilliant, unscripted speech that Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes delivered yesterday about the crude remarks that a Florida Republican made to her face.
What is so impressive about her remarks is that–as you will see– she does not have a written speech in front of her. She has a few notes. She speaks spontaneously from her heart. Those are the best speeches.
She is eloquent and brilliant.
“I cannot apologize for my passion, or for loving my God, my family, and my country! I yield back!”
— Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.), apologizing(?) to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)
You may wonder, “Ted, how did you get so good at apologizing?” What can I say? It’s a gift. I’ve literally never done it before. Some (the recipient of my apology, technically) would say that I still haven’t! Welcome to my master class, where I’ll showcase just a few of the tricks that I employed in my apology on the House floor to my colleague from New York!
“Wait, I thought he called Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a ‘f—ing b—-’ under his breath in front of a reporter!” those who heard this apology said. “But I guess what happened was that he said, ‘I LOVE MY COUNTRY AND I LOVE MY GOD,’ in a very garbled mutter under his breath, and some member of the lamestream media badly misheard him!”
Most people say that a good apology accepts responsibility, acknowledges the harm done and seeks to make amends. This is not true. A good apology does none of these things! A good apology is like the Battle Hymn of the Republic: It is a patriotic song about America that never says it’s sorry, not even one bit.
To apologize or otherwise take responsibility for something you have said or done in the past is deeply un-American, and you must put your foot down and refuse in no uncertain terms, or an eagle will lose its wings.
Every good apology contains five parts:
1) What sounds like the beginning of a normal apology. Announce that you are going to apologize, because you are a bigger person. Do not be afraid to expatiate on all the ways you are a bigger person — there are probably lots! That is what the apology is about: to remind people how great you are, and how you have never done anything wrong, ever, in your life.
2) Denial that the event in question even happened. Try to obfuscate, because a good apology is full of suspense. Like “Memento”! And also, like “Memento,” your audience should spend the majority of it wondering (a) what even happened and (b) whether the guy in question did anything bad at all.
3) Apology for something that someone else did wrong. Now for the best part of any apology: the unexpected twist! “The offensive name-calling words attributed to me by the press were never spoken to my colleagues, and if they were construed that way, I apologize for their misunderstanding.” Wow! What even happened? It sounds like this man is magnanimously apologizing for somebody else’s misunderstanding — which he should not have to do! Whatever this guy has to say, I’m listening!
4) Panegyric about yourself. Be sure to indicate that whatever it was that happened, it was not your fault; you were too busy thinking Great Thoughts About the People’s Well-Being to do anything that could be unworthy of a patriot and statesman. Be sure to mention that you are a father of daughters, no matter what you are ostensibly apologizing for. Make it clear that you are only apologizing because you are such a bosom companion of Jesus Christ …
5) Refusal to apologize! … and that you will not apologize for any of these things! “I cannot apologize for my passion, or for loving my God, my family, and my country! I yield back!”
Now that’s an apology!
People should start your apology thinking they understand that you are asking forgiveness for calling your colleague a sexist obscenity under your breath and end it by being confused and thinking that maybe you are being asked to apologize for being too good a person, who loves America too much? By the time you are done speaking, your listener should be saying to himself, “Well, what could be more American than insulting a woman of color who is supposed to be your respected colleague!”
Sign up for this master class now for further tips and tricks! A few spots are still remaining, but they are going fast!
Coming soon: How to make the person you are apologizing to the villain in this situation if she tries pointing out that this wasn’t an apology at all.