default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
|
||
Logout|My Dashboard

Bluntly speaking: Rep. Young embarrassed himself and all Alaskans

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Saturday, March 30, 2013 12:00 am

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner editorial

The problem with being known as a blunt-spoken politician is that the blunt speech can get you in trouble.

It’s happened again to Rep. Don Young, who referred to Hispanic migrant workers as “wetbacks” in an interview this week with KRBD radio in Ketchikan. He said in the interview that, when he was young, his father “used 50-60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes” on the family’s California farm.

Rep. Young issued a statement late Thursday that fell short of an apology. Here is his statement in its entirety:

“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.

“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.”

Use of the derogatory term shouldn’t be explained away as a generational issue. It’s not good enough to essentially say “Well, it’s not a big deal because that’s how we all described migrant workers when I was a kid.” Just because a phrase was commonly used long ago doesn’t mean it was acceptable long ago.

The initial failure by Rep. Young to recognize the necessity for an outright apology was corrected Friday with a further statement from his office.

“I apologize for the insensitive term I used during an interview in Ketchikan, Alaska,” the new statement reads. “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.”

He’s right. There’s no place for such language and thought, especially from our elected leaders. And the congressman surely knows the sensitivity of some racial labels, having enjoyed a prosperous marriage of more than four decades to the late Lu Young, a Gwich’in Athabascan from Fort Yukon.

The Republican Party, of which Rep. Young is a member, has a well-established difficulty in attracting Hispanic voters. The 2012 national election was yet more proof of that, which is why improving the party’s standing among Hispanics has become a priority of GOP leaders.

Rep. Young may bristle at the media — as he often does — over this latest incident. But we hope his focus instead remains on what he said, for he does his legacy, his party and the state he dearly loves no good with such utterances.

More about

More about

More about

Advertisement

Stanley Nissan Service

Stanley Nissan service

Wes Madden 2014 Ad #2 Fairbanks

Description

www.walkerforalaska.com

Gubernatorial candidate, Bill Walker, is concerned that the state is in a $7 ...

Madden Real Estate

http://www.fairbanksakhomesearch.com/?utm_source=NEWSPAPER&utm_campaign=N...

www.walkerforalaska.com

Fairbanks born candidate for governor, Bill Walker asks, "Is Fairbanks better...

Guidelines

The Daily News-Miner encourages residents to make themselves heard through the Opinion pages. Readers' letters and columns also appear online at newsminer.com. Contact the editor with questions at letters@newsminer.com or call 459-7574.

Community Perspective

Send Community Perspective submissions by mail (P.O. Box 70710, Fairbanks AK 99707) or via email (letters@newsminer.com). Submissions must be 500 to 750 words. Columns are welcome on a wide range of issues and should be well-written and well-researched with attribution of sources. Include a full name, email address, daytime telephone number and headshot photograph suitable for publication (email jpg or tiff files at 150 dpi.) You may also schedule a photo to be taken at the News-Miner office. The News-Miner reserves the right to edit submissions or to reject those of poor quality or taste without consulting the writer.

Letters to the editor

Send letters to the editor by mail (P.O. Box 70710, Fairbanks AK 99707), by fax (907-452-7917) or via email (letters@newsminer.com). Writers are limited to one letter every 30 days. All letters must contain no more than 350 words and include a full name (no abbreviation), daytime and evening phone numbers and physical address. (If no phone, then provide a mailing address or email address.) The Daily News-Miner reserves the right to edit or reject letters without consulting the writer.