Congressman Dan Young of Alaska on Mexicans and Mexican-Americans

This is why we can't have nice things, like immigration reform.


Amid a hot-button debate in Washington over how to overhaul the nation's immigration laws, Rep. Don Young, a 21-term lawmaker, referred to immigrant workers as "wetbacks" — a term that could threaten to inflame the debate about immigration reform.

"My father had a ranch; we used to have 50-60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes," Young said in an interview with radio station KRBD. He was discussing the number of jobs that have been made irrelevant due to advances in automation.

Young is one of the top Republicans in the House. He offered a rather lame apology which seemed to indicate that "wetback" is just a term we used to use and he forgot to stop using it. I hope we were not hanging our hopes on the Republicans to do anything reasonable about immigration related issues.

Please, let us not be inured to this sort of issue. A very senior elected official in the Federal Government just used, casually, the Mexican version of the N-word in an interview about policy. This is more important than March Madness, people. Or at least, we should be more mad about it than we seem to be. I've yet to hear mention of censure, but that is the obvious next step.

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There's at least one Latino writer who considers "wetback" to be a fossil, and claims that "illegal" is much more offensive to the current Latino community:…

I don't know if I agree with his assessment though. I'd wager that the Latinos that I know would be deeply offended by the w-word. It's still reductive and hateful.

That page also links to a campaign that I didn't know about:

By John Moeller (not verified) on 31 Mar 2013 #permalink

This dumbass represented me for years.

The always odious Steve King introduced an English only bill in Congress with 39 cosponsors. North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory closed the state's Latino outreach office. It's all part of the GOP's big outreach program. Did I miss any?

PS- It's Don Young, not Dan Barnes.

By John McKay (not verified) on 31 Mar 2013 #permalink

The topic of discussion a couple tables over at breakfast saturday was how this guy's choice of terms wasn't bad: the problem is that too many people don't like reality being shoved into their faces.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Michigan, one of our GOP committeemen posted on his Facebook page an article that equated gays with pedophiles, stated they are responsible for most crimes in large cities, and similar notions. He thought people should be exposed to some "facts". He is now "astounded" by the furor (from both sides, in honesty: a good number of MI Republicans are reaming him for it) that has developed.

These scum seem to be working to outdo each other in seeing how low they can go.

Congressman Dan Young of Alaska on Mexicans and Mexican-Americans – Greg Laden's Blog

I'm an old geezer, raised on a ranch in the Texas Hill Country up til I took off for the University of Texas in 1953. Here is the obligatory comment. One of my family's best friends came over as a wetback back in the 1940's.

In my day, a wetback was a person who was loyal, honest, hardworking, and reliable. Today the same person is called, by the most politically correct, an illegal criminal alien; probably smuggling dope and destined to clog up the welfare system.

Maybe they were the Good Old Days in some respects.

By Jim Thomerson (not verified) on 01 Apr 2013 #permalink the most politically correct...

Really? I have to say I've never heard it from anyone who is close to what you likely view as "politically correct". The people from whom I've heard it use it the same way they use other slurs - nigger, dike, kike, etc - and with the same vitriol rolling off their tongues and out their pores.

I can't comment on the 40s or your view of that time, but you seem to be saying that only the sensitive currently see it and or use it with offensive intent: I strongly disagree with that assertion.

My local school was integrated the first year I went to school, in 1941. By integrated I mean the local Hispanic kids came to my school for the first time. My parents told me if any trouble came, to get out of the way. I don't remember anything happening. If you think wetback is pejorative, then you don't know some of the other words I used to hear, and will not repeat. Also, I don't have any problem with being a gringo when I'm in South America. We found it amusing that my gringo colleague's house, where I often stayed, was descrbed on the deed as the "Gringo's House".

By Jim Thomerson (not verified) on 01 Apr 2013 #permalink

The feigned hypersensitivity routine is manipulative, designed to intimidate and control. When they look at you with those limpid big brown outraged eyes and say, "No human being is illegal," realize that Mexico treats even legal immigrants like dog shit, and only out of self interest do illegal aliens turn into human rights activists immediately upon sneaking across the border. Central American women sneaking into Mexico get raped and put to work in brothels.

So...all the more reason to treat them like human beings.

By John Moeller (not verified) on 03 Apr 2013 #permalink