Target: Alaskan Congressman, Don Young
Goal: Stop the perpetuation of offensive language by demanding accountability from elected officials.
Alaska’s Republican congressman Don Young used the ethnic slur “wetbacks” to refer to migrant workers in a recent interview. When called out on his offensive language Young simply explained his nostalgia behind the word and clarified that his intent was not disrespectful. Please sign this petition and demand an apology from congressman Young not only for his use of the offensive word, but also for explaining it away as a result of his youth.
Republican congressman Don Young is Alaska’s only congressman and is serving his 21st term in office. In an interview with Ketchikan Public Radio he used the term “wetbacks” as part of an anecdote illustrating the affects of technology on the economy. “My father had a ranch; we used to have 50-60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes,” Young said. “It takes two people to pick the same tomatoes now. It’s all done by machine.” Backlash against the ethnic slur instantly erupted and Young responded with a clarification of his reasoning behind using the word. “I used a term that was commonly used during my days growing up on a farm in Central California,” he said. “I know that this term is not used in the same way nowadays and I meant no disrespect.” The word is widely considered an ethnic slur and generally refers to Mexican migrants who come to the United States illegally.
Congressman Young’s response lacks acknowledgement of wrongdoing and reaffirms his ignorance surrounding the ethic slur. He is not saying that he should not have used the slur. He is not saying that he’s sorry for having used the slur. Instead, congressman Young is saying he’s a product of his generation and that’s the way his generation used to speak. As an elected official, it is necessary that you value each American and their inherent dignity as an individual. Congressman Young’s use of the word degrades and insults Latinos in America and he should apologize for his ignorance.
Please sign this petition and demand that congressman Don Young apologizes for using the ethnic slur “wetbacks” in reference to hardworking people seeking an honest living.
Dear Congressman Young,
In a recent interview you did with Ketchikan Public Radio you used the term “wetbacks” to refer to workers on your father’s farm in California. Your use of the ethnic slur was obviously not lost on you because you issued a response explaining your offense, but not apologizing. I am writing to demand that as a public servant to the United States you apologize for using such derogatory language and for minimizing the effects in your response.
In reference to the affect technology is having on our economy you referenced your own past, “My father had a ranch; we used to have 50-60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes. It takes two people to pick the same tomatoes now. It’s all done by machine.” The term “wetback” is widely considered an ethnic slur and is offensive to migrant workers and Latinos everywhere. Perhaps you had a slip-of-the-tongue from the 1950s when the term was used by the government. Unfortunately, your follow up response illustrated that you were not remorseful for your remark, but rather are a product of your generation.
In your response you say, “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.” By acknowledging that the term was offensive you should have apologized for having used it. You did something wrong and it is your duty to apologize for your ignorance rather than justify it.
Please issue a public apology for your use of the ethnic slur “wetbacks” and let this serve as a lesson to you in political correctness.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: digitaljournal via Yahoo