To say that I am not an auditory learner is an understatement. I want a map. I am the guy who needs the visuals. I like the diagram that illustrates the process way more than the verbal directions. It isn’t that I can’t learn by listening. There are just funny results at times when I don’t see the words on the page. Recently, I shared with my psychology students at the University to their great amusement that I had thought for a long time that Cher’s Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves was actually Gypsies, chimpanzees. I persisted in this misunderstanding for a long time because I also understood La Cher to be admonishing us later in the song to “lay the monkey down.” Not my proudest moment.
I have similarly always thought that Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline was Sweet Madeleine, but I found out yesterday while looking for a link to that song that it only exists in my head with those lyrics. So much for my ode to former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright! She has been on my mind quite a bit these past two weeks because of her recent comments about the need to support a female candidate for president. As both female and male pundits clutched their pearls, so distraught were they by her purported insensitivity to younger women voters, others were hailing her apology in the New York Times for her statement about a special place in hell.
It is ironic that Secretary Albright’s comments have been described as a statement of regret, an apology, and close to an apology. The Secretary is a diplomat who holds a PhD from Columbia University, was unanimously confirmed by the Senate as our first woman Secretary of State in 1997, is a professor of International Relations at Georgetown, and is a director on the board of the Council on Foreign Relations. She is fluent in four languages and speaks and reads two more. I am confident if she were to apologize, we would know it. Her statement was not an apology, but rather a lesson in logic and history. Still, CNN described her as a “Clinton surrogate” in their coverage of her statements about support for a woman presidency — further proof of her desire for some real estate subdivisions in an afterlife.
Since I don’t believe in hell, I am disinterested in that aspect of the Secretary’s comments said in support of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. Nor am I weighing in on the political costs of the statement here. I have some opinions, but they are not pertinent except to the extent that I believe she has nothing for which to apologize. Rather, of interest to me is that Secretary Albright did not apologize and people are interpreting her New York Times comments as an apology. When a gifted speaker and talented intellect in diplomacy does not receive respect for the content of her statements, even from her supposed allies, I am left wondering about the depth of our sexism and our abiding need to hear apologies when none are due.
I am not sure for whom I will vote in the April primary. I do know I am better educated on important issues because of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s non-apology.