When Rep. Don Young (R-AK) slurred Hispanics in an interview on Thursday by referring to migrant Hispanic workers as “wetbacks,” which is a term as offensive and inappropriate as “beaners,” Republicans condemned his remarks and forced him to apologize.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) demanded an “immediate apology” and said Young’s remarks were “offensive and beneath the dignity of the office he holds” and there was “no excuse” for his remarks.”
Young eventually apologized, saying he used a “poor choice of words.”
“I apologize for the insensitive term I used during an interview in Ketchikan, Alaska,” he said. “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 …”
In an interview with a radio station on Thursday, Young derogatorily described Hispanics who used to pick tomatoes at his father’s ranch while talking about comprehensive immigration reform.
“My father had a ranch. We used to have 50 to 60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes,” he said during the interview. “It takes two people to pick the same tomatoes now. It’s all done by machine.”
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said Young’s remarks were “offensive” while RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said “offensive language and ethnic slurs have no place in our public discourse.”
In 2008, a close ally of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin opposed Young, regarded as one of the most corrupt politicians by both the left and the right, in the Republican primary because of his cronyism and ethics. Young won that primary by just over 300 votes.