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Some Apologies Are Easier Than Others

 Column on Chinese standoff  


 The United States has refused to issue a formal apology  to China for the recent collision between a U.S. Navy  spy plane and a Chinese fighter jet, insisting that the  Navy crew was not at fault. The accident has triggered a  standoff that resembles a children's tiff.

 China: "Say you're sorry!"

 U.S.: "No! You say you're sorry!"

 China: "Your plane flew into my plane!

 U.S. "Did not!"

 China: "Did too!"

 U.S.: "Well, your mama is ugly!"

 China: "Huh?"

 If parents were involved, each country would have to  apologize to the other, no matter who was at fault. And  for at least two months, both countries -- and their  planes -- would be grounded.

 It's a pity Bill Clinton isn't still president. He was good at  apologizing. He was willing to apologize for anything:  America's slavery, Rwanda's genocide, Whitney  Houston's hair.

 The plane collision is the third tragic accident in recent  months involving the Navy. If this continues, the old  slogan "Join the Navy and see the world" will have to be  revived as "Join the Navy and apologize to the world."

 I'm surprised the Navy hasn't yet hired a special officer in  charge of apologizing. It's a sorry job, but someone has  to do it.

 It may be necessary to place the following job ad: "The  Navy seeks applications for the newly created position  of Chief Apologizer. Candidates must be willing to  apologize at any time, day or night. They must also have  the ability to look remorseful. Preference will be given to  individuals with experience in apologizing publicly, such  as Mike Tyson, Darryl Strawberry and various other  athletes. Special consideration will also be given to  husbands who have been trained by their wives to  apologize for no reason."

 In China, apologies seem to be essential, because they're  a good way of resolving a conflict, whereas in America,  apologies seem to be optional, because they're a good  way of getting your butt sued. As most Americans know,  it's better to be safe than sorry.

 Of course, it doesn't help that America's relationship with  China has long been strained. Like a divorcing couple,  each country is suspicious of the other. President Bush  and Secretary of State Colin Powell have surely  discussed many Chinese conspiracies.

 Bush: "The Chinese are trying to take over America.  Look at all the restaurants they're opening here. Soon  there'll be a Chinese restaurant on every street and egg  rolls will be more popular than hamburger rolls. What if  all those Chinese cooks get together one day and decide  to put a little too much 'goo' in their moo goo gai pan?  Millions of Americans would fall ill and, the next thing  you know, Elaine Chao would be president. And if we  happen to get more than one Chao leading America, you  know what we'd have: Chaos."

 Powell: "I think Ms. Chao is from Taiwan, Mr. President.  Are you sure about this conspiracy? It seems a little  farfetched, like your theory that Indian women are hiding  spying equipment under their saris. Many of the Chinese  restaurant owners have become U.S. citizens. They're  harmless people, despite the fact that most of them are  Democrats."

 Bush: "I'm telling ya, Colin, it's all a deception. Chinese  restaurants have all sorts of subliminable messages. For  example, all of them have small signs that say, 'General  Tso's chicken.' They're trying to lull us into a false sense  of security. But I know the truth: General Tso isn't  chicken. He's the bravest and most dangerous general in  the world. Yes, he is."


 ~~Copyright 2001 Melvin Durai

 Melvin Durai is an Indiana-based writer and humorist. For a  free subscription to one of America's most entertaining and  thought-provoking columns, send a blank message to  or go to


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