On March 28th, 2013, KRBD in Ketchikan, AK reports that Congressman Don Young visited Southeast Alaska to interact with constituents during the Easter recess. Congressman Young said that federal overreach through regulatory agencies has expanded rapidly, and Alaska is feeling the effect. He also said the federal government isn't even listening to its own elected representatives anymore, and added that if the United States were forming today, no individual state would agree to be part of the government; they all would prefer independence. Congressman Young also voiced a rather unique idea to balance the budget, which he called the "ten percent solution"; everybody, including welfare recipients, cough up a one-time 10 percent "tithe" of their salaries or compensation, which he claims would balance the budget. He agrees with Mitt Romney that lower income people need to feel some pain in order to give them "skin in the game". Of course, Young's idea wouldn't work because government would spend us into a deficit again the following year. Young also spoke of the need for the U.S. to build and deploy more icebreakers to Arctic regions.
But what really got attention was the following statement Congressman Young made about repatriating production jobs back to the U.S. rather than relying on imports. He said he understood that automation has reduced the number of labor positions available, but then he said the following:
“My father had a ranch; we used to have 50-60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes,” he said. “It takes two people to pick the same tomatoes now. It’s all done by machine.”
Whoops! The rest of the Alaska media immediately zeroed in on the "wetback" remark, with stories published by the Anchorage Daily News and KTUU Channel 2; it spread nationally to ABC News, the Washington Post, NY Magazine, and The Hill. Without fail, liberals invaded the comments sections and started chimping out about "racism". Of course, I didn't see too many of them invade the comments section when Anchorage School Board candidate Bettye Davis, who is black, made her anti-white racist remark decrying an all-white school board in an increasingly diverse city.
Hispanics are one of the fastest growing minority groups in Alaska, almost doubling in size between 2000 and 2010, according to the U.S. Census. More than 40,000 Hispanics now live in Alaska, making up six percent of the population. In Anchorage, that number is eight percent. So Lupe Marroquin, the president of the Hispanic Affairs Council of Alaska, weighed in, saying she was disappointed by Young's remark. She explained "It's really bad form for Don Young to be using an ethnic slur to describe an ever growing population in the United States that means more to the economy than just picking fruit." What's amusing is that the Latino lobbies link the term "wetback" exclusively to Latin Americans, implicitly admitting that a preponderance of illegal immigrants are Latin Americans, yet on the other hand, shriek bloody murder when we "profile" Latinos in immigration checks. Other Alaskan reaction is documented in this KTVA Channel 11 report, but some Alaskans are rallying to Don Young's side in comments to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.
Time for damage control -- and it was forthcoming. Alaska Dispatch recorded the following statement issued on Congressman Young's behalf by his press secretary, Mike Anderson:
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.
Good statement. It was limited to clarifying the context of his remarks, and did not include the customary self-flagellating apology many public figures normally spew out. Real men don't beg for forgiveness. Congressman Young responded separately about the investigation recently launched by the House Ethics committee to determine if he broke House rules by allegedly failing to report gifts on his annual financial disclosure forms and allegedly lying to federal officials. Congressman Young noted that the FBI has already found him totally innocent of their own allegations, said it’s nothing new, and he knows in his heart that he’s done nothing wrong. Unfortunately, other people are now piling on against Don Young. The Alaska Democratic Party is demanding a full apology from Congressman Young, as has House Speaker John Boehner; Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), Rep. Nancy Pelosi (CPUSA-CA), and Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX), chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus have also piled on.
Here was a rather insightful exchange in the ADN comments section:
Ambler5isalive 44 minutes ago:
Wow, just wow. I wonder what he says about Alaskan natives behind closed doors? This just shows me that he's tired, fed up and ready to be put out to pasture. He isn't even trying to be sensitive anymore. There are a lot of terms that used to be used by people to refer to other races that now we realize are/were offensive. The "N" word used to be used blatenly and publicly to refer to black people, now you'd get your butt kicked, and rightfully so, for uttering it to the wrong person. Someone, on more than one occasion, has used it to refer to me and I was offended greatly and I'm not even black. this sheds a lot of light on the inner workings of Don Young's mind. He didn't even apologize for saying it. Also his solution for the domestic violence and sexual assault problem here is "drink alone". Dang!
lwrightismight 18 minutes ago:
You wonder what he says about AK Natives? Really? Why don't you ask his deceased wife you moron. you clearly have no idea what you are spouting so head on back to California or Oregon or wherever you stumbled up here from. Unbelievable how clueless you are
Congressman Young was married to Lula "Lu" Young, an indigenous Gwich'in, for 46 years; she passed away on August 2nd, 2009.