Republican congressman refers to Latino workers as ‘wetbacks’
Update (below): House Speaker condemns ‘wetbacks’ remark
Republican Rep. Don Young of Alaska on Thursday used a racial slur during an interview with a local radio station.
“My father had a ranch. We used to hire 50 or 60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes,” Young said in the interview with KRBD. “You know, it takes two people to pick the same tomatoes now. It’s all done by machine.”
The congressman was discussing the need to reduce the need for imports by bringing industries back to the United States.
Young’s comments come at an inopportune time for the Republican Party, which has recently sought to increase its appeal among minority voters — and Hispanic Americans in particular — following their loses in the 2012 elections. President Barack Obama won 75 percent of the Hispanic electorate last year.
“If Republicans continue to follow on the course that the right wing and Tea Party have set for them, they’re going to find, they’re going to follow on the course of California Republicans, which is a course of irrelevancy and self-destruction,” Presente.org executive director Arturo Carmona told Raw Story last year.
Update: House Speaker condemns ‘wetbacks’ remark
“Congressman Young’s remarks were offensive and beneath the dignity of the office he holds,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said in prepared text released Friday. “I don’t care why he said it – there’s no excuse and it warrants an immediate apology.”
The speaker’s condemnation came just as Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) made similar remarks on Twitter. “Don Young’s comments were offensive and have no place in our Party or in our nation’s discourse,” McCain tweeted. “He should apologize immediately.”
Apparently neither man realized that Young apologized on Thursday, hours after the interview aired. “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,” he explained in an advisory. ” I know that this term is not used in the same way nowadays and I meant no disrespect.”
Listen to audio, uploaded to YouTube, below: