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Alaska Republican Rep. Don Young, a long-time Congressman with a reputation for typical GOP bigotry, opened his mouth and inserted his rancid foot Thursday when he called Hispanic workers “wetbacks,” a strong slur against those who come from South of the border.
“My father had a ranch and we used to have 50-60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes,” Young said in an interview with an Alaska public radio station.
Young’s inappropriate remark comes right after the Republican National Committee called on GOP lawmakers and candidates to “soften their tone” when discussing Hispanic Americans and other immigrants. After getting wiped out in elections where vast majorities of Latino voters went for anybody but Republicans, the party is hoping to change its image.
Young, however, apparently didn’t read the memo. After 24 hours of heat, including many phone calls from the big boys at the RNC, Young issued this apology:
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. That word, and the negative attitudes that come with it, should be left in the 20th century, and I’m sorry that this has shifted our focus away from comprehensive immigration reform.
The apology came after several Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner, went public with criticism of Young.
“Congressman Young’s remarks were offensive and beneath the dignity of the office he holds,” Boehner said in a statement issued by his office. “I don’t care why he said it – there’s no excuse and it warrants an immediate apology.”
Young has a long history of racist and bigoted remarks, not only against Hispanices but also against African-Americans and even Alaskans of Eskimo and Inuit heritage.