SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Alaska Congressman apologizes for ethnic slur


March 30, 2013
Saturday AM

(SitNews) Ketchikan, Alaska - National leaders of both major political parties condemned Alaska's Congressman Don Young on Friday for calling Latino farm workers "wetbacks." Young, 79, made his comments Wednesday at a news conference in Ketchikan and his comments were posted online the next day by KRBD, one of Ketchikan's local radio stations.

In response to the criticism Thursday, Alaskan Congressman Young released the following statement saying, “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 on Thursday, “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. America must once and for all tackle the issue of immigration reform.”

After undergoing a day of blistering criticism Friday from around the nation, Young issued an apology. "I apologize for the insensitive term I used during an interview in Ketchikan, Alaska.  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,  and I’m sorry that this has shifted our focus away from comprehensive immigration reform."

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, had demanded that Young apologize immediately, saying there was no excuse for his remarks. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, tweeted Friday that it was disappointing to see a Republican member of Congress casually use a slur.

Former Congressional candidate Matt Moore said, “It is not acceptable for Mr. Young to use racial epithets even though he explained those terms were used years ago.” Moore said, “Even Speaker John Boehner agrees and has roundly criticized Young’s remarks earlier today.”

Moore said, “Alaskans deserve a Congressman they can trust and not someone who will call them names behind their backs." Moore asked, "What does Don Young say about Native Tribes, African Americans, Asians, other ethnic groups and the LGBT community when he is in D.C.?"  He said, "We need a Congressman who is not living in the past, but someone who is living in the present and looking to the future.” 

Matt Moore is a small business owner living in Anchorage with his family. Moore said he is seriously considering challenging Don Young in 2014.

Mike Wenstrup, Chair of the Alaska Democratic Party, also demanded Friday that Congressman Don Young fully apologize for using an offensive racial slur in a recent public radio interview with KRBD, in which he referred to Latinos as “wetbacks.”

“Congressman Don Young reached a new low on Thursday when he used a racial slur about Latinos in a radio interview. Even for Don Young, this comment is appalling.  Congressman Young’s offensive remarks are completely out of step with Alaskans’ values and we demand that he do the right thing and apologize for using this abhorrent racial slur about our families and neighbors,” said Mike Wenstrup, Chair of the Alaska Democratic Party.


Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews



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