In this discussion, you will present your thoughts about apologia, which is the speech of self-defense.
Apologia has been defined as a speech of self-defense. Read Sharon D. Downey’s 1993 articleThe evolution of the rhetorical genre of apologia. The article is available from the UArizona Library. Downey identifies five purposes of apologia: exoneration, absolution, sacrifice, service, and deception.
With these purposes in mind, read or watch President Carter’s speechon the Iran Rescue Mission (4/25/1980) and President Reagan’s speech on the Iran-Contra Affair (8/12/1987).
In your essay, you will explain why these speeches are considered apologia and identify, explain, and illustrate what purposes of apologia the speeches attempt to achieve.
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According to google, Apologia is defined as a formal written defense of one’s opinion. In Sharon Downey’s 1993 article The Evolution of Rhetorical Genre of Apologia Downey analyzes the evolution of apologia and discusses how the intention and purpose has changed over time. She clearly identified five sub-genres of apologia which can be classified as self-exoneration, self-absolution, self-sacrifice, self-service, and self-deception. She completed the article by talking about and giving examples of how apologia is used in the modern world and I immediately drew comparisons to presidential instances of apologia including President Carters speech on the Iran Rescue Mission and President Reagans speech on the Iran-Contra affair.
To go more in-depth about the use of apologia, let’s first understand how Apologia can be used. Apologia at its core is a way to regain trust, repair relationships, or to clear one’s name. However, it can also negatively be viewed as a way to avoid accountability, to shift blame, and to manipulate the greater public at large. In the case of President Reagan – he was often found to be using various forms of apologia during his presidency. Specifically in his speech in regards to the Iran-Contra controversy. Reagan used apologia in this scenario apologia to defend his actions and to justify his decisions. He portrayed himself as a good leader who had was doing the best job he could do, even if he made mistakes along the way. He also expressed his regret for any harm that had been caused and explained that he was willing to take total responsibility for his actions. All-in-All his use of apologia was widely regarded and noted. Many felt that he was aiming to avoid accountability from the public from his actions.
President Jimmy Carter utilized apologia in his response to the Iran hostage crisis. In this instance Carter used apologia differently than President Regan did. Carter used apologia to explain how hard it was for his administration to resolve this crisis. He explained how the situation was complicated by the relationship with Iran, as well as by the political strife within Iran. He emphasized the need for patience and perseverance in dealing with the crisis and tried to show that his administration was doing everything in its power to resolve the situation. While his response to the crisis was without question unsuccessful, his use of apologia helped to convey his intentions and to maintain his credibility with the public.
Apologia is the rhetorical strategy of offering an explanation or defense for something that was controversial or that had been criticized. In other words, it is offering some form of “apology” explaining why what had happened, did happen. Its purpose is similar too in that it hopes to mitigate or repair damage to whoever’s reputation, credibility, and integrity. Using apologia can restore trust and maintain positive relationships with involved parties so it is no surprise that it would be commonly used in the political sphere. Today we will be taking a look at its implementation by President Carter and President Regan as they addressed some shortcomings that happened during their time in office.
The speech by President Carter regarding the Iran Rescue mission given on April 25th, 1980 is a great example of utilizing apologia to seek absolution. President Carter very clearly explains why he saw the purpose to call for such a mission in the first place and how he believed it was necessary to help American lives. It is clear in the words he speaks that he takes responsibility for the lives lost on the mission and places the blame on himself. Despite it having been a mission made up of volunteers who understood the dangers, as a leader, he understands that he has the final call on these scenarios, and good or bad, people will want an explanation. Rather than make excuses or even lie about the events, President Carter decided to be forthcoming not only in his recap of the events that transpired but also in the events leading up to his fateful decision on that day.
President Reagan also very clearly implemented apologia in his speech addressing the nation regarding the Iran-Contra Affair. This however is a different situation altogether as it was not a rescue mission gone awry, but a multi-step plan to circumvent Congressional wishes. President Reagan rather than seeking absolution instead seems to be using apologia to exonerate himself while explaining in so many words why he did what he did. He goes on to explain that it was all in an effort to not only protect American lives but to also support democracy abroad (Contras in Nicaragua). He paints the situation as one where he simply wanted to do what was right even if that meant he had to break a couple of rules in the process saying how things may have gotten “rapidly tangled up” (Reagan, 1987) in arms deals. The speech doesn’t seem to be seeking forgiveness so much as explaining and justifying the actions that had happened.
After watching both of the speeches by the two presidents I think they both serve as examples of apologia in action though not with the same purpose. President Carter, not only by the words he speaks but by the way he says them, shows that he is truly sorry for what has happened and understands it was a terrible loss of life on his watch. He used apologia to seek forgiveness by explaining it was a mission with good intentions that simply was the scene of an unfortunate accident. President Reagan uses apologia in a different manner in his speech, instead, he attempts to exonerate himself for the actions of which Congress and the American people wanted answers. President Reagan rather than fully owning what happened says how things got “tangled up” and how the original intention of the plan was good. He instead makes it seem like he is just as surprised as everyone else to hear about what happened. Both men found it necessary to lean upon apologia as a strategy to help them address the controversies. Though they both used a similar rhetorical strategy, the implementation and end goal of each instance was quite different. I hope these two examples of apologia help better illustrate the many facets of the rhetorical strategy.
Apologia is something that we see nearly every day in rhetoric we take in, either by reading news online, watching it on television, or even in face to face discussion about even minor things. This week we have the opportunity to look back at some very compelling speeches, each of which carries a topic nation that has to this day continued to be a thorn in our side, in Iran. As a nation we have felt a belief in the need to help those citizens of turbulent Middle Eastern nations such as Iran, and attempt to free them of the punishments and dictatorial reigns of their governments. This typically happens as these nations choose to do something in which they negatively affect American lives, as in the Hostage situation that necessitated the Iran Rescue Mission that President Carter presided over. We do however also find times in which the President may very well just get caught up so staunchly in their beliefs like President Reagan’s when he was in belief that he was truly doing the right thing in sending money thought to have been there to stop the Soviet’s from taking South America.
With President Carter, we see a leader who has chosen to exonerate his armed forces from any of the perceived notions that they were the ones at fault by stating that the decision to halt the mission was his, and his alone. He also showed just how important is was to serve all Americans in not only ordering the mission, but also ensuring their safe extraction post accident. President Carter though not facing any detractor in person, stood his ground in stressing that though there was an issue during the extraction, he believed that it was the absolute correct decision to make and continued throughout his speech to ensure to all listening or watching, that he had the best intentions for all Americans no matter foreign or domestically located.
With President Reagan, we see a situation where the most well intentioned desires can go astray. When digging deeper beyond the speech itself, which is important considering the full scope of the Iran-Contra Affair, we see how senior administrative officials can go behind the back of the President, in which the results can become severe. Originally viewed as yet another Middle Eastern hostage recovery mission, it was actually that of a secret arms deal that was prohibited by order of Congress. This speech of course comes following the conclusion of four investigations, one of which included a congressional hearing, and we see a genuinely apologetic leader, that was duped by his own trusted confidants. While he still took the blame for the unauthorized and illegal diversion of funds, we find out that it was his two Admirals in which acted in a way they believed the President would have wanted, and not necessarily thinking of the ramifications that may follow. While Reagan stated he did not know there were diverted funds or a surplus, he showed with absolute certainty that he was the one in charge of the error. I do believe in his speech that he did deceive the nation in a sense, as I find it hard to believe that he could have been as blindsided as he came off about the diversion of funds.
In both cases we see great yet subtle aspects of apologia as with each respective President’s styles, as though the situations were different, they both shared similarities as they both looked inward in showing compassion, and a desire to be seen as a strong leader. With Reagan, I see a similarity to the speeches of George W. Bush in the aftermath of 9/11, as he displays a very strong conviction that even if things may not have been the perfect decision, but that the American people are the most important thing. When looking at President Carter, I see a leader like Barack Obama, in which we see a stoic nature but a very commanding presence that Americans can trust and believe in. Apologia is in all of us, and we express its elements every single day. I waited until the deadline, as right after reading the passage that I realize that everyone showcased these keys, and wanted to see just how I used them, which to be honest was eye opening. There are infinite paths and ways to grow into becoming a strong leader, and if you are able to become strong in the elements of apologia, you will be well on your way to becoming a reliable and trusted leader.
Apologia is a genre of speeches that has changed throughout the time. This change in the genre has lead to different subcategory purposes these speeches can be placed in. Fist we must define what apologia is. Apologia is a speech that is given by someone defending themselves or their position. To defend something you must be or feel accused of something. The subcategory of purposes include exoneration, absolution, sacrifice, service, and deception. Also known as classical apologia, exoneration was the original form of the speech style incorporating a presentation of defense towards accusations against said person. Absolution, the medieval apologia, was composed of optional confessions within speeches. Sacrifice, the modern apologia, used the tactic that directed the responsibility to others in the future and used explanations that ultimately created a martyr. Contemporary apologia was considered service and reflected on explanation and absolution of the speaker and ultimately had the capability of repairing one’s image. The last purpose is deception, also a contemporary apologia, shifted to damage control through shifting of blame and avoidance. In this essay I will discuss how speeches by President Carter’s and President Reagan showcased these apologia purposes.
In President Carter’s speech he discussed the unfortunate deaths of the soldiers who died trying to rescue Americans from Iran. In the speech the purpose is obviously deception. In the speech you see Carter taking responsibility for the mission he approved while also shifting blame to other situations surrounding the event. He blames the Iran government for the need of the rescue because there wasn’t a guarantee that the Americans would be released early. He points out that it was his decision to attempt the rescue but also his decision to cancel it when issues were occurring. He points out that the deaths are his fault but in the same sentence mentions the pressure he and his cabinet have put on Iran to return the Americans safely and without harm. Throughout the speech he continues to point out that there were mechanical difficulties that caused the mission to lead to deaths. These are examples of how he is using the deception purpose in his apologia speech.
President Reagan’s speech is a classic example of a apologia speech with the purpose of service. To start, the speech was done using television, a form of mass media. Although this is similar to President Carter’s speech, the difference is that Reagan’s speech was more political than self defense. Reagan went through specific steps on how the Iran-Contra Affair occurred and the role he played in it. Reagan specifically noted that he had no knowledge of the misappropriated funds which showed the political past and future aspect of the speeches message. Reagan absolved himself and explains how he doesn’t agree with the wrongdoing that occurred and even goes to discuss changes he’s made to ensure it doesn’t happen again. He discusses how from now on each covert operation will have its own specific policy and objective.
Through the years there has been many different apologia speeches given by presidents. We are now moving into a different time period and with that I’m sure another subcategory of purpose will be created. It is important that we are educated on these purposes so that interpretation of these presidential speeches will be accurate. We see the Carter and Reagan both had to deal with issues during their presidency that resulted in apologia speeches that included service and deception purposes.
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