Rep. Young: Hey, no disrespect intended by that ethnic slur I used

posted at 9:41 am on March 29, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Not too many Republicans outside of Alaska will claim Rep. Don Young, and most of us in the lower 48 began wondering years ago why voters up there kept him in Congress. Young brings home the pork-barrel bacon, though, which apparently pays for a lot of embarrassment.  Therefore, Alaska voters, here’s what your votes buy you:

Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) issued an apology Thursday after using the term “wetbacks” to describe Latino workers on his family farm.

“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,” Young said in a statement to the Alaska Dispatch.

Young made the comment during an interview with KRDB-FM radio in Alaska about the current immigration reform legislation being debated in Congress. Young said he feared that the country had exported too many vital industry jobs, while agreeing that automation and technological advances had reduced the number of labor positions available.

“My father had a ranch; we used to have 50-60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes,” he told the station. “It takes two people to pick the same tomatoes now. It’s all done by machine.”

Don’t think that Young hasn’t picked up some survival skills from his 40 years in Congress.  (Seriously; he just passed his 40th anniversary as Alaska’s sole Representative three weeks ago.) In an attempt to seize an ex post facto Get Out Of PC Jail Free card, Young immediately used his apology to proclaim his support for comprehensive immigration reform:

In the statement to the Dispatch apologizing for his remarks, Young says that he believes Congress should “once and for all tackle the issue of immigration reform.”

“Migrant workers play an important role in America’s workforce, and earlier in the said interview, I discussed the compassion and understanding I have for these workers and the hurdles they face in obtaining citizenship,” Young said.

Nor is that the only embarrassment that Alaska voters should feel in providing Young a lifetime appointment.  A little over a week ago, the House Ethics Committee announced a probe into Young’s activities on Capitol Hill, including whether he’d lied to federal officials:

In Young’s case, the ethics panel said it is examining whether he improperly received gifts, used official and campaign resources for personal use or made false statement to federal officials. Young, first elected to Congress in 1973, is a former chairman of two House committees.

More than two years ago, the Justice Department declined to prosecute Young on allegations that he improperly accepted gifts and political contributions from the oil industry in exchange for official actions.

There has to be another Republican not named Begich, Murkowski, or Young in Alaska.  Maybe voters up there will spare us the embarrassment by finding one for 2014.

Update: I know the Begiches are Democrats, but was trying to emphasize the clannish hold on power up in Alaska. Consider it prosaic license.


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Odd thing about him, he was stripped of any seniority after his last ethics violations. He will never have any power in any committee, ever. Yet the Alaskan GOP can’t get anyone to challenge this putz.

lowandslow on March 29, 2013 at 1:30 PM

No. You name them. Then we can inspect your potential libel.

GWB on March 29, 2013 at 10:46 AM

Why are you working so hard to qualify obvious racial-prejudice.

Here’s a hint. Not all migrant workers are illegal immigrants. The term is factually inaccurate as well as prejudiced.

Capitalist Hog on March 29, 2013 at 1:36 PM

?

Capitalist Hog on March 29, 2013 at 1:37 PM

There was, some time ago, a thread on HotAir which debated the nature of this term as an ethnic slur. I cannot think of any rationale for denying that it is a slur. It is descriptive and reality-based, but applied to Mexicans generally, it is certainly a slur.

Jaibones on March 29, 2013 at 1:46 PM

I think it is funny that people claim to not be racist yet they have fallen over themselves to defend this man. Instead of saying, “Oh, he shouldn’t have said that” they come up with all these excuses: “He’s old,” “Democrats do it too!” and finally “He’s correct and the PC police are out to get him.” Wetback doesn’t mean = job stealer as some would believe here, quite selectively ignorant. It is EXCLUSIVELY meant to be derogatory to Latinos, Mexicans in particular. Whether or not some, most or all Mexicans steal jobs is not the point. That’s already a given. But not all Mexicans (like myself) steal jobs. I was born in the US, as was my mother. I have never been on handouts, working on my 3rd degree, have a full time job and yet I have been called “wetback,” “spic” and beaner as well. Even though I am a proud American with NO ties to Mexico

Instead of defending people like Young, Akin, O’Donnell and these other idiots, how about he actually say “It’s not okay to say these things.”

nyclakerfan on March 29, 2013 at 1:49 PM

Everybody have a good cry?

tom daschle concerned on March 29, 2013 at 1:51 PM

Jaibones on March 29, 2013 at 1:46 PM

Thanks for at least being based in reality

nyclakerfan on March 29, 2013 at 1:52 PM

But these people will keep defending him for being “old” or he is correct because Mexicans are job stealers. Even though I am of Mexican heritage (partially) was born in the US, educated until graduate scool and am employed. I have never received a handout and I have been called “wetback” or “beaner” by ignorant people. Wetback doesn’t mean to imply you stole a job, it is meant to be derogatory towards Mexicans. Why these people here defend that who knows?

nyclakerfan on March 29, 2013 at 1:55 PM

I saw this reported on the Today show this morning. At first I didn’t know if the guy was an R or a D. And, the initial reporting that actually included the context in which he made the comment seemed entirely reasonable, regardless of political affiliation. Then the report went on to point out that Young was a R and how much trouble the R’s have been having appealing to the hispanic voter. It was at that point that I changed the channel.

First of all, as I pointed out above, context is key and it makes all the difference in whether one should or should not be offended by the comment. I don’t find the word offensive and anyone that does is just fishing for grievance.

Secondly, the term “wetback” is no different than the term “Jap”. Yes, as a society we’ve grown out of using those terms. We now mask then in more polite vocabulary. But, trying to make political hay out of someone from an older generation using a term that the younger generation no longer uses is cheap politics.

I was wondering if anyone was going to jump on this and help the left push their agenda of tarring the right with anything they can make stick.

Nice job Hotair giving this one legs!

glennbo on March 29, 2013 at 2:01 PM

When do the “Tea Bagger” hunts begin?

Bishop

Libfree is pretty much always on the hunt for a teabagger, lol.

xblade on March 29, 2013 at 2:44 PM

Why are you working so hard to qualify obvious racial-prejudice.

Here’s a hint. Not all migrant workers are illegal immigrants. The term is factually inaccurate as well as prejudiced.

Capitalist Hog on March 29, 2013 at 1:36 PM

Huh? Ever heard of a non sequitur?

GWB on March 29, 2013 at 2:58 PM

…and, amazingly, there are still some people who wonder why THE PARTY OF STUPID is losing to THE PARTY OF EVIL !

TeaPartyNation on March 29, 2013 at 3:07 PM

Frankly, I like “Fence-Jumpers” to “Wet-backs”.

Bulletchaser on March 29, 2013 at 3:40 PM

His language aside, the points he’s making are absolutely correct. We are exporting high technology jobs, and providing visas for foreigners to come here to do similar high technology jobs which remain in this country. Both of these acts hurt Americans, but the only way to reverse this trend is to either erect barriers (such as halting the visa program (good) or erecting tariffs (bad)), or to use the power of the marketplace to create and keep things in this country.

That latter point is hard to do — especially when most American companies of any size have already responded to the union headlock by transferring their operations overseas.

With respect to immigration reform, I agree with him also.

unclesmrgol on March 29, 2013 at 4:16 PM

His other point is that low technology jobs are being sidelined by high technology equipment.

I agree with that assessment too.

unclesmrgol on March 29, 2013 at 4:18 PM

Update: I know the Begiches are Democrats, but was trying to emphasize the clannish hold on power up in Alaska. Consider it prosaic license.

All heads of the same Hydra. They had no problems coordinating their war with Sarah Palin, whose uncompromising attitude about official corruption was a threat to them all.

novaculus on March 29, 2013 at 4:18 PM

Frankly, I like “Fence-Jumpers” to “Wet-backs”.

Bulletchaser on March 29, 2013 at 3:40 PM

Secondly, the term “wetback” is no different than the term “Jap”. Yes, as a society we’ve grown out of using those terms. We now mask then in more polite vocabulary. But, trying to make political hay out of someone from an older generation using a term that the younger generation no longer uses is cheap politics.

I was wondering if anyone was going to jump on this and help the left push their agenda of tarring the right with anything they can make stick.

Nice job Hotair giving this one legs!

glennbo on March 29, 2013 at 2:01 PM

I’m not racist but

Capitalist Hog on March 29, 2013 at 5:03 PM

He was only using a term commonly used by most southern, Midwestern and some northeastern conservatives CALIFORNIANS. Nothing new here.

HotAirLib on March 29, 2013 at 9:54 AM

Edited for accuracy

“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.”

HotAirian on March 29, 2013 at 5:55 PM

I don’t really care about pejoratives directed at people in this country illegally. Use ‘em myself. Just someone try to make me stop. Go one, I dare you.

pdigaudio on March 29, 2013 at 7:23 PM

HotAirian on March 29, 2013 at 5:55 PM

Are you an elected official of Strmfrnt or just a fan?

Capitalist Hog on March 30, 2013 at 12:11 AM

These racist teapots make it too easy.
 
HotAirLib on March 29, 2013 at 12:06 PM

 
Neither of which is an example of

 

using a term commonly used by…”

 
You realize that, right?
 
You’re not doing that great of a job of dispelling the low-info Obama voter joke that has, for some unknown reason, gained traction. I’m sure it’s all coincidental, though.
 
rogerb on March 29, 2013 at 1:22 PM

 
So all done with this thread, eh HotAirLib?
 
Nicely defended abandoned. You fit right in with all our other local (D)s.
 
OBAMA 2013!

rogerb on March 30, 2013 at 7:05 AM

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