Rashard Mendenhall stuck his foot in his mouth 140 characters at a time on Twitter this week, with posts questioning whether Osama bin Laden was really behind the collapse of the World Trade Center, and criticizing those who cheered bin Laden’s death. Now Mendenhall has taken his comments off Twitter to provide a fuller explanation of what he meant — and an apology of sorts.
Mendenhall started up a blog, which he titled “Clarification,” to explain what he meant with his tweets. On that blog he apologized to anyone he offended, although he stopped short of disavowing his apparent belief in a 9/11 conspiracy.
“I appreciate those of you who have decided to read this letter and attain a greater understanding of my recent twitter posts. I see how they have gotten misconstrued, and wanted to use this outlet as a way to clear up all things that do not truthfully represent myself, what I stand for personally, and any organization that I am a part of,” Mendenhall writes.
Mendenhall then went on to say that he’s disappointed if anyone construed his Twitter comments as a reflection on his patriotism.
“I want people to understand that I am not in support of Bin Laden, or against the USA,” Mendenhall wrote. “I understand how devastating 9/11 was to this country and to the people whose families were affected. Not just in the US, but families all over the world who had relatives in the World Trade Centers. My heart goes out to the troops who fight for our freedoms everyday, not being certain if they will have the opportunity to return home, and the families who watch their loved ones bravely go off to war. Last year, I was grateful enough to have the opportunity to travel over seas and participate in a football camp put on for the children of US troops stationed in Germany. It was a special experience. These events have had a significant impact in my life.”
Still, Mendenhall stands by his opinion that people who celebrated the death of bin Laden were wrong. Mendenhall, who referred to the killing of bin Laden as “murder,” said his religion teaches him not to celebrate death, and he quoted a Bible verse to back him up.
“I wasn’t questioning Bin Laden’s evil acts,” Mendenhall said. “I believe that he will have to face God for what he has done. I was reflecting on our own hypocrisy. During 9/11 we watched in horror as parts of the world celebrated death on our soil. Earlier this week, parts of the world watched us in horror celebrating a man’s death.”
But Mendenhall did, in fact, question bin Laden’s evil acts: In a tweet he has since deleted, Mendenhall questioned whether it was really possible that hijacked planes could have destroyed the World Trade Center. And Mendenhall suggested that we can’t judge bin Laden because “We’ve only heard one side.”
All that said, Mendenhall did offer an apology.
“I apologize for the timing as such a sensitive matter, but it was not meant to do harm,” Mendenhall wrote. “I apologize to anyone I unintentionally harmed with anything that I said, or any hurtful interpretation that was made and put in my name.”
For some, that clarification may be sufficient. For many, the apology won’t be enough.