Alaska GOP Rep. Don Young is in a bit of hot water. Okay, he’s been in hot water before so maybe we should say that he is knee-deep in lava.
In case you have missed it, on a radio show on Thursday morning, Young used the slur “wetbacks” to characterize Mexican immigrants. His quote:
I used to own — my father had a ranch. We used to hire 50 to 60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes. You know, it takes two people to pick the same tomatoes now.
Oh boy. But for what its worth, Young released a statement apologizing for his remarks:
During a sit down interview with Ketchikan Public Radio this week, I used a term that was commonly used during my days growing up on a farm in Central California. I know that this term is not used in the same way nowadays and I meant no disrespect.
Wait, he actually didn’t apologize? His one regret seemed to be that he is unaware what a derogatory slur the word “wetback” is? Was it actually a term of endearment at one point in history? Seriously, I need to know if that’s the case.
The fact of the matter is, Rep. Young’s choice of words is awful. I’m not one to say that conservatives are racist, actually I believe neither political ideology endorses prejudice (regardless of what the people who follow those ideologies say) but Young’s use of that pejorative comes at a critical time for the Republican Party.
After the widely discussed “autopsy” report that the RNC commissioned, one of the major ideas was to appeal to minority groups more. Young, a longtime Representative, has put the Republican Party in an awkward position. In order to at least look like they have sensitivity, Republican leaders have to blast one of their own which has already occurred.
Don Young is practically an institution in Alaska and even though he’s been in several problems with ethics over the past. Alaska’s representation has mostly been dominated by Ted Stevens, Don Young and the Murkowskis since it has become a state. He has had fairly close elections in the past, and if he continues to run, you never know but Democrats could be licking their chops after these comments.
As could Republicans to for basically the same reasons. Its either wait till Don Young retires or loses, so why not make a run for it?
But let us take a moment to consider today as opposed to 2014 & beyond. For his comments, should Don Young resign? I’m all up for freedom of speech, in fact I find it one of the most important tenets to our Constitution. But at a certain point, there has to be some ramifications for the use of a racial slur by a public official. The worst that happens to Don Young shouldn’t be issued statements by John Boehner.
There should be more and I’m aware that most will think that I’m just vouching for a Democrat to possibly get elected but I disagree. The phrase “wetbacks” is synonymous with plenty of the hatred exuded by many politicians regarding the status of Mexican immigrants. While plenty consider the word “illegals” to be a great substitute, the real message is still there.
We should expect our public officials to represent everyone, not just one faction of the population. Don Young’s comments, and his failure to even say the word “apologize” are equally disgusting.
But if we are playing fair, here’s Young’s latest statement as of Friday night.
I apologize for the insensitive term I used during an interview in Ketchikan, Alaska. There was no malice in my heart or intent to offend; it was a poor choice of words.