Top Republicans, including Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio, are beginning to condemn fellow GOP Rep. Don Young of Alaska for his use of a racial slur to describe Latino workers.
Boehner on Friday morning demanded Young apologize for the remarks he made to a local radio station, in which he said that his father “used to have 50 to 60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes” on their family ranch.
“Congressman Young’s remarks were offensive and beneath the dignity of the office he holds,” Boehner said in a statement Friday. “I don’t care why he said it — there’s no excuse and it warrants an immediate apology.”
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, who just last week announced a party-wide outreach initiative to Latinos and other minorities, issued a statement as well. “The words used by Representative Young emphatically do not represent the beliefs of the Republican Party. As I have continued to say, everyone in this country deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Our party represents freedom and opportunity for every American and a beacon of hope to those seeking liberty throughout the world. Offensive language and ethnic slurs have no place in our public discourse,” Priebus said.
Also weighing in was No. 2 Senate Republican John Cornyn of Texas, who is running for re-election a state with a significant Hispanic population.
“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,” Cornyn said in a statement. “The comments used by Rep. Young do nothing to elevate our party, political discourse or the millions who come here looking for economic opportunity.”
Democrats and those in the Hispanic community have already pounced on Young’s comments as the latest example of how out of touch the GOP has become with minority voters, even as Republicans in both chambers have expressed a willingness to pass a comprehensive immigration overhaul.
Young has not apologized for his remarks. He only clarified to say that he knows “this term is not used in the same way nowadays and I meant no disrespect,” according to KTUU in Alaska.