Ryan Lochte’s halfhearted apology regarding his fabricated story of robbery at gunpoint in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, means absolutely nothing. It’s nothing but an arrogantly conceived mea culpa that doesn’t really do anything to repair the damage caused by Mr. Locthe’s lies and deceptions as he avoided to the possible fallout of a typical badly behaved American tourists in someone else’s country.
My anger with Mr. Lochte is due to the fact that Brazil, with all of its economic problems and political turmoil notwithstanding, had managed to host a hell of an Olympic games, up to the point where Lochte concocted the biggest pile of lies of a robbery at gunpoint implicating Rio de Janeiro police. For a long time before the games started, American and international media sensationalized Brazil’s dysfunctional political situation almost as though they wished the Olympics were canceled. At times it felt as if the sensationalism in reporting such bad news out of Brazil was a pure schadenfreude. For the most part the news about feces infested waters, high criminality, Zika virus, and unfinished Olympic venues were click baits and exaggerated headlines for the sake of ratings. The truth is, Brazil put on an opening show like only Brazil can do and the remainder of activities and events took place without any hiccups, other than the occasional green water in the diving pool.
Ryan Lochte first told reporter Billy Bush about the now infamous incident, and I personally wasn’t buying the story to begin with. Not that I couldn’t believe that a group of young American athletes could have been robbed at gunpoint in Rio de Janeiro, or any other country for that matter, but what I couldn’t bring myself to believe is that the perpetrators were alleged uniformed police officers. That would be stupid, something wasn’t quite right there and even the dumbest of criminals in Rio wouldn’t consider making such a mistake. I’m not saying criminals from Rio couldn’t have robbed a tourist, nor am I saying there’s not a concerning level of criminality in a big city like Rio de Janeiro, but what I’m saying is they wouldn’t want the attention and scrutiny that dressing in law enforcement uniform would bring to them.
As it turned out, the truth came out to light when Brazilian authorities were brave enough to question Mr. Lochte’s account of the incident. We learned that Ryan and his colleagues went to a party where they got drunk and decided to go “Murican badass” in town. Lochte and his friends forgot that as American Olympians they’re de facto goodwill ambassadors of their country, and they had a patriotic duty to represent America by respecting the dignity of the host country. Lochte and his gang thrashed a gas station bathroom and were forced to pay for the damages. Video footage of the incident show no police involved, but rather the security guard at the establishment who did pull out his gun when the “big, drunken, American athletes” refused to take responsibility for the damage they’d cause. However, instead of owning up to their stupidity, Mr. Lochte and his posse decided they were going to fabricate an unbelievably malicious fable in which he and his friends were the “good guys” and the country of Brazil, the police officers of Rio were the “bad guys.”
What seems more troubling to me is how little outrage this whole incident has sparked among “proud Americans.” I can’t understand for the life of me, how easily the American public has shrugged off such a dreadfully embarrassing international situation with a simple “They were young people, doing stupid things.” At the same time, I can’t help but wonder if the American public in general would’ve been as forgiving, had the actors in this shameful story were four African-American athletes? I think about how Gabby Douglas, a young black woman gymnast, who for two Olympics now has made America proud with some stellar performances; however, on more than one occasion we’ve seen her bullied and completely disrespected on social media for banalities such as the look of her hair, or not placing her hand over her heart during a medal ceremony while the national anthem played. On the other hand, Mr. Lochte and his bunch created an almost diplomatic catastrophe and America doesn’t seem insulted at all.
After doubling down on his story, even when it had started to unravel as the huge pile of bovine excrement that it was, Lochte issued his halfhearted apology without ever expressing remorse for his false testimony on Rio police department, or to the people of Brazil for besmirching their country’s reputation with such a ridiculous falsehood.
I’ve always heard conservative American politicians say “Never apologize for America,” which may sound great for political verbal diarrhea, but in reality it tells a story of our arrogance as a people. Ryan Lochte and his posse shamed America; furthermore, Ryan didn’t have the courage to face the consequences by returning to Brazil to answer questions to the Brazilian authorities surrounding his bizarre story. Instead, Ryan issued a very lawyerly apology which was more of a self-absolving theater as opposed to an expression of sincere contrition. Our lack of outrage, our inaction, our non-reaction to this whole debacle is absurd, especially in an America capable of losing its sh*t over a 19-year-old gymnast failing to put her hand over her heart in salute to the star spangled banner, yet a grown man insults an entire nation? Nothing. We should be ashamed of ourselves, we should be ashamed, we MUST be ashamed.