Republican leaders are scrambling to distance themselves from the ignorant comments of an Alaska congressman who used the racial slur “wetback” in a radio interview this week.
Rep. Don Young, speaking with KBRD about Arctic development and the economy, dropped this little gem of political suicide while reminiscing about his childhood in California:
My father had a ranch; we used to have 50-60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes. It takes two people to pick the same tomatoes now. It’s all done by machine.
Talking Points Memo reports today that Republican House Speaker John Boehner took his ill-advised colleague to task in a statement:
Congressman Young’s remarks were offensive and beneath the dignity of the office he holds. I don’t care why he said it – there’s no excuse and it warrants an immediate apology.
Meanwhile, Politico reports that Republican Texas Senator John Cornyn had similar harsh words, also via official statement:
Migrant workers come to America looking for opportunity and a way to provide a better life for their families. They do not come to this country to hear ethnic slurs and derogatory language from elected officials. The comments used by Rep. Young do nothing to elevate our party, political discourse or the millions who come here looking for economic opportunity.
Since the interview, Young has done his best to backtrack:
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.
There are other racial slurs that were “commonly used” by whitefolk in the days of old, but most professional politicians know enough not to say them — at least not in public.
Young’s more savvy GOP colleagues are keenly aware that his slip will do nothing to endear the party to the crucial Latino vote. Young follows in the footsteps of bumblers like Todd Akin who lack lack the filter to keep their personal views from torpedoing their party.