Over at First Things, Amanda Shaw gives a brief overview of Theodore Dalrymple's (what a marvelous name!) article on False Apology Syndrome. While it takes a certain strength of character called, I believe, pride, to agree wholeheartedly, I think there's a lot of truth in what he says. False Apology Syndrome is the tendency to confess the sins of others rather than one's own sins: E.g., perpetual (note the "perpetual") need to apologize for Galileo, the Crusades, and the Inquisition. E.g., the habit of explaining your bad choices in terms of "my father was a harsh man..." I love it. Goshdarnnit, just own up! Remove the log and then the splinter, what ho!
"False Apology Syndrome is a way of judging others to avoid judging ourselves–of shrugging moral responsibility. It fosters a perpetrator–victim mentality: “For what can I do wrong to compare with the wrongs that my ancestors suffered at the hands of your ancestors? How dare you even mention it, you hypocrite!” For that matter, what could I do wrong to compare with the wrongs my ancestors committed? I must say, it’s a reassuring mode of thought."
Of course, I apologize if you don't agree. My father is a crotchety old fellow, after all, and my mother a genius of a housewife. And I am what I am, therefore, I am a sinner...