Mike the Mad Biologist

A Question About ‘Olive Americans’

I’m a bit late to this story (although STOOPID does age well…), but Kansas Republican state representative Connie O’Brien had a minor bigot eruption–she apparently has a fool-proof way to identify illegal immigrants:

She explained that she took her son to a financial aid office, and as she was waiting in line, she believed there was a girl waiting in line with them who was “not originally from this country.” Fellow committee member Rep. Sean Gatewood (D-KS) asked O’Brien how she knew this student was “illegal.” O’Brien replied that she knew because the student “wasn’t black, she wasn’t Asian, and she had the olive complexion“:

REP. O’BRIEN: My son who’s a Kansas resident, born here, raised here, didn’t qualify for any financial aid. Yet this girl was going to get financial aid. My son was kinda upset about it because he works and pays for his own schooling and his books and everything and he didn’t think that was fair. We didn’t ask the girl what nationality she was, we didn’t think that was proper. But we could tell by looking at her that she was not originally from this country. […]

REP. GATEWOOD: Can you expand on how you could tell that they were illegal?

REP. O’BRIEN: Well she wasn’t black, she wasn’t Asian, and she had the olive complexion.

I don’t know about olive, but what does Rep. Gatewood think about this complexion:

(from here)

Looks alien to me. Space alien.


  1. #1 Coyte
    February 24, 2011

    So, wait, what about the tens of millions of ‘olive-complexioned’ people who are here legally? What about the ones who were born and raised here, and whose parents were born and raised here? Do they just not exist in the bizarre alternate reality she inhabits?

  2. #2 David Wescott
    February 24, 2011

    dude, there’s a difference between “olive” and “orange.”

    get it right.

  3. #3 Ken
    February 24, 2011

    Anyone darker than Honey Maple should be sent packing right away! If you want to see Real Americans, just look at any movie made before *Wizard of Oz. Even Honey Maple may be too much color…

    *Yes, the Wizard of Oz was the first evil fascist socialist step to destroying our country. Remember, it was made in “California”.

  4. #4 greatbear
    February 24, 2011

    Obviously, what we need is for law enforcement to carry around a bunch of color swatches on a key ring. Anyone whose skin tone doesn’t match one of the approved swatch colors is put on a truck to Mexico.

    On the plus side, it means we’ll be rid of the entire cast of “The Jersey Shore”.

  5. #5 I. Talian
    February 24, 2011

    Those olive complected illegals also tend to say funny things like “that’s one spicy a meatball”

  6. #6 Julie Stahlhut
    February 24, 2011

    By this logic, my Sicilian-American cousins (all born in New England) are legal except during suntan season.

  7. #7 Susan
    February 24, 2011

    Is this O’Brien person anywhere near in touch with reality?

    So, “olive complexion” must be the new thinly veiled racism. At least we know.

  8. #8 culturegeek
    February 24, 2011

    Well, who knew? I guess with her expertise, INS can now replace all that expensive hardware with a Munsell book.

  9. #9 Clam
    February 25, 2011

    I remember an American newsman, who was interviewing my youngest daughter, writing later that he thought she was of Cherokee lineage. Little did he know that she was Anglo Irish Hungarian Baganda Polish-German Russian-Jewish and, possibly, Italian from a family that on (only!) one side can trace its origins back a thousand years.

  10. #10 wobert
    February 25, 2011

    What was she doing at a financial aid office? Gawddam socialist parasite.’Spose she’ll vote to have it’s funding pulled now that she didn’t qualify to recieve Guvmmint money.

  11. #11 harold
    February 25, 2011

    This confirms my belief that Americans support self-destructive right wing economics out of decadent, amoral bigotry.

    Because her son has the beginnings of a damn good point.

    No other developed country treats its students as badly as this one does, loading down young people with debts for outrageously high tuitions.

    He went to the student aid office. He wanted the aid, and although his family is probably quite affluent, given the cost of an education today, he probably had good reason.

    So, how does he respond to the denial?

    How about some of the stuff I recommend – much lower tuition at state universities (ideally free), encouragement of lower tuition at private universities, return to a much higher proportion of grants relative to loans, increased eligibility for student aid? All of that would actually help the kid, but they don’t want it.

    They want to take away whatever shabby benefits the “olive skinned” student is receiving.

    Seriously, fuck you, Representative O’Brien. There is nothing left to say but “fuck you”.

  12. #12 suzyf921
    February 25, 2011

    makes me want to cry. The ignorance! the ignorance!

  13. #13 hipparchia
    February 26, 2011

    holy suntans, batman!

    i’ve always considered myself to be boringly white-bread white, but occasionally, yes during suntan season, people have remarked on my olive complexion. it has always struck me as odd they would do that, but this possibility never even dawned on me.

  14. #14 Samantha Vimes
    February 28, 2011

    hipparchia, my father is of German/English stock, but black haired– and when I was a small child, I assumed he was Indian or Mexican, because he spent so much time outdoors he tanned as red-brown as a white person can get.

    I don’t think I was at all clear on what race meant as a child.

    But I think I know what olive-complexed means better than O’Brien. (Italian, Greek, Spanish, Aramaic, and Rom *may* have olive complexions. Mexicans, not so much, and I think that’s what she meant to imply)

    But the Boehner swatches nearly made me laugh out loud, which would not be good, as my spouse is sleeping.

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