Last week, Fox News tore into President Obama for what they called a “latte salute,” the fact that the President was holding a coffee cup as he saluted troops while deplaning from Marine One. “Show the respect; salute these guys,” said Eric Bolling, incensed over what he called an “arrogant” display. (Wonder how he felt about this.)
But shortly after that, on the same show in fact, when the network was reporting on the UAE’s first female fighter pilot, Major Mariam al-Mansouri, going into battle against ISIS, he said, “Would that be considered boobs on the ground or no?” His colleague Greg Gutfeld continued, “Problem is, after she bombed it she couldn’t park it.”
Jon Stewart went Kanye cray on them, and rightfully so. (Greta Van Susteren also criticized her colleagues.) And in this case Bolling did say sorry for his sexist remark, though he did it in the most sexist manner possible: “I got home and got the look so I apologized to my wife and I apologize to you.” Nagging ladies, even the one I’m married to, don’t get jokes! So much word vomit from this guy.
But actually, the troops — both men and women — weren’t too happy about Bolling’s offensive comment either. And they wrote an open letter to express their disapproval.
In the letter published on Talking Points Memo, a number of military members from across the spectrum of the armed forces rebuked Bolling and Gutfeld’s chuckles at the expense of Major Mansouri. Not only do they cite the American women who have been flying into dangerous situations since WWII, but straight up, they tell him he’s no comedian.
Thus the skill of women as fighter pilots is well established. And before you jump to the standby excuse that you were “just making a joke” or “having a laugh,” let the men amongst our number preemptively respond: You are not funny. You are not clever. And you are not excused. Perhaps the phrase “boys will be boys”—inevitably uttered wherever misogyny is present—is relevant. Men would never insult and demean a fellow servicemember; boys think saying the word ‘boobs’ is funny.
The less obvious implication of your remarks, however, is that by offending an ally and cheapening her contribution, you are actively hurting the mission. We need to send a clear message that anyone, male or female, who will stand up to ISIS and get the job done is worthy of our respect and gratitude.
Oh my goodness. This letter is making my whole day/week/month right now.
They end by apologizing to Major Mansouri on behalf of Bolling and offering her our gratitude for what’s she’s doing. Yes indeed.
Bolling issued a second apology, and this time he wanted to make sure you know he meant it. “Therefore, let me speak clearly and sincerely. I’m sorry for what I said, I believe that Major al-Mansouri is a hero, she’s courageous, brave, and she deserves our praise, not inappropriate jokes. I appreciate that she is fighting the extreme radicals that threaten all of us. She has my admiration and my very, very sincere gratitude.”
When you have to make it known that you’re being sincere — like, for real this time, I’m sorry, seriously guys — there’s a problem. When you have to apologize twice, also a problem. It feels like the apologies were based on the backlash more so than a real feeling that something he said was wrong. Everyone out there: Here’s a lesson in how not to say sorry.
And FYI, if you’re interested, Al Jazeera published this interesting column about women in the military in the Middle East. It’s a short read.