John Wayne is my Dad's favourite actor so I saw a lot of his films during my formative years, everything from his dreadful early westerns to excellent works such as the Cavalry trilogy and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. The above clip is a famous one from one movie of John Ford's trilogy: She Wore A Yellow Ribbon, when Wayne's character tells an immature underling not to apologise; it's a sign of weakness. I used to think that this was entirely wrong-headed... of course we should apologise if we've done something we shouldn't, or have wronged someone else. It is not admirable to refuse to admit culpability and express regret when we have erred in some way. I eventually realised, however, that this quote is generally taken out of context, and Nathan Brittles' (Wayne) statement refers specifically to the situation with which he's dealing. The young lieutenant is not apologising because he feels remorse, or even because he believes that he's done something wrong. He's apologising because he thinks Brittles is displeased with him and he wishes to placate his superior officer and avoid getting in trouble. To apologise not because you feel in the wrong, but because you fear possible blow-back for your words or actions is a sign of weakness, and there's nothing admirable about it.
I've been thinking a lot about false/forced apologies lately in view of the myriad ones we've been witness to over the last few years. There's a sort of grim, repetitive pageantry to these coerced mea culpas: a person says/writes/tweets something that the wokestapo pretends to be grievously offended- and threatened- by. They then form an online mob, demanding that said person be drummed out of polite society- as if they have any concept of what one looks like- be fired from his job, and generally have his life ruined. The mainstream media, drawn like Kmart shoppers to a blue light special, will then get involved, helpfully delving into that person's online history, private life, and family in a desperate search for further examples of wrong think or speech. They will eventually dig up an instance when, fifteen years previously, he played a game of backgammon with some dude wearing a Dukes of Hazard tee shirt and thus label him a vile racist... if the tee had Daisy Duke on it, a sexist as well. The company he works for will hysterically assume that the fake outrage of the twitter mob is representative of the feelings of the population at large, panic, and release a weak-kneed statement saying that their employee's views do not reflect those of their organisation (no one actually believes that they do) and that they are shocked and horrified by what he has said/written/tweeted. The poor schlub whose inartful words were the cause of all this furor, reeling from the hate-filled backlash, probable doxxing, and the sight of a CNN reporter digging through his trash to see if he's had take out from Chick-fil-A, will issue a desperate apology for what he's said or done in the hope of salvaging what's left of his career and reputation. Looking like he's giving a hostage statement, he will say that he's realised that his words were wrong- and hurtful- and came from a place of privilege. He disavows them, and pledges to not speak, but humbly listen to the voices of marginalised communities. What he doesn't seem to realise is that the type of people who demand coerced admissions of guilt and preformative penitence have no forgiveness or mercy in their hearts; the public apology is merely one more tool with which to humiliate and punish the heretic who dared step away from the agreed-upon narrative. He must be cast out. His words of remorse will be sneered at and dismissed as insincere (to be fair, they probably are) and the baying woke pack will continue their calls for his abasement and cancellation unabated. His spineless employers will eventually cave and fire their employee for his rogue thoughts though this won't save them, either: there will be calls for a boycott both from the cry-bullies and from those disgusted by the company's utter lack of courage or conviction.
So in my view, Nathan Brittles was correct: no one should apologise when they believe themselves to be in the right simply because they are intimidated or afraid of the consequences. It is weak, and in the end will make little difference; the howling mob of the perpetually offended will scent that weakness like blood in the water. They will not be satiated by anything less than complete ruination of one's life and livelihood, so one might as well retain one's dignity and self respect by refusing to accede to their demands or pander to their grievance mongering. Never apologise to these creeps. Don't give them the satisfaction of intimidating you into silence or worse, rewarding their thuggish tactics with false contrition. Speak the truth and stand by it.