TW: racial slurs
Don Young is a Republican congressman from Alaska who has been around a long time. In his 21 terms in the house, you'd think he would have some idea about the evolution of language. With advancement of society comes understanding that racism is unacceptable, particularly among public officials.
So, an interview the congressman gave to KRBD has me sickened. When discussing whether there is an actual need for migrant workers, Rep. Young said "My father used to have a ranch; we used to have 50 to 60 wetbacks pick tomatoes. It take two people to pick the same tomatoes now. It's all done by machine"
You read that correctly- Congressman Don Young referred to his fellow human beings as wetbacks. For those of you not from our side of the pond, this is possibly the most insulting epithet that can be used against a working-class Mexican or Central American person. It's on the same level as using the n-bomb to refer to African-Americans.
For his part, the 79 year old Young claims that the term was commonly used when he was a kid and "it's not used the same way anymore" and he didn't mean any "disrespect". In his mind it's no big deal and we should just let it be because he didn't mean it that way.
I'm calling B.S. here. I used to work under a racist gorilla of a boss on Vancouver Island. He used to use all kinds of slurs that I won't repeat, but one of them is the one Mr. Young used. The guy used to chase a guy whose parents were Mexican around, calling him every dirty name he could think of. This brainless goon knew exactly what he was doing. He fully comprehended the fact that he was being an asshole but nobody really did anything because the silverback had zero problem with knocking your block off, and everybody knew it.
If that redneck boss in the sticks understood he was being a bigot, Don Young had to know that he was being racist. Maybe he'd hidden his bigotry from the news media, keeping it between him and his redneck buddies before, but the cat is out of the bag now. His excuse of it being a common term from his youth is pretty bogus- people knew they were being racist then, but privilege was so huge that most farmers got away with using derogatory language to refer to their hardest-working charges. They also abused workers with impunity then, abuse which Mr. Young and his family benefited from.
Representative Young should be censured, at the very least. Personally, I think his days in Congress should be numbered. Republicans are already losing support from minorities and while I know he doesn't speak for all Republican Reps., the damage is done. Time has obviously passed Don Young and his antiquated ideas by. He has to be let go lest he become the political version of that old guy on the bus that mutters on about darkies and Jews and the "good" old days.