Rep. Don Young: Resign immediately for calling Latinos "wetbacks"
Here's the message we sent to our members. After you've read it, please add your voice.
It’s disgusting. Republican Rep. Don Young just called Latino immigrants “wetbacks” during a radio interview posted yesterday.1 He used the racial slur to refer to workers on his father’s farm. It’s one of the most dehumanizing comments we’ve heard from a public official in a while. Yet, even with Senate and House Republican leaders condemnig him, Rep. Don Young has simply issued a non-apology, claiming he "meant no disrespect."
Racial slurs and dehumanizing terms are worse than disrespectful—they cause harm. We’ve seen this through an alarming rise in hate crimes against Latinos at the height of immigration reform debates3 and in the policies that emerge from dehumanizing language like Rep. Young’s.
The slur “wetback,” for example, led to the creation of Operation Wetback, a racist program in 1949 that rounded up and deported hundreds of thousands of Latino immigrants and U.S. citizens through the targeting of specifically Mexican American barrios.4
Today, we see a direct link between labeling people “illegal” and the creation of dragnet deportation programs that have led to a record 1.5 million deportations in the past 4 years.5
Sorry, Rep. Young, but words do matter.
When public officials use racial slurs to refer to Latino immigrants without any consequence it sends a dangerous and disturbing message. That’s why we absolutely can't let Rep. Don Young get away with this racist attack.
The GOP is under a lot of pressure after an election season in which Latinos voted in record numbers.6 And after tens of thousands of Presente.org members spoke out about Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s insults to a DREAMer, we’ve heard House Speaker John Boehner is feeling the heat even more.7 This morning, even he called for Rep. Young to apologize—but that's not enough.8
The GOP needs to know that it can’t have it both ways—Republicans can’t claim to support Latinos while its members use insults and racist terms frequently. If thousands of us speak out now and demand Rep. Young's resignation, he will be forced to step down or face serious backlash in the media.
And if more than 10,000 of you sign the petition, we’ll personally deliver it to Rep. Young and make sure he knows we won’t remain silent in the face of racist attacks.
Thanks and ¡adelante!
Arturo, Ana, Roberto, Gabriela, and the rest of the Presente.org Team
P.S. Can you donate $5 to support our work? We rely on money from people like you to see campaigns like this through.
1. "U.S. Rep. Don Young in Hot Water for 'Wetback' Comment," Fox News Latino, March 29, 2013.
2. "GOP Congressman Refuses To Apologize For Calling Latinos ‘Wetbacks,' " Think Progress, March 29, 2013.
3. "Anti-Latino Hate Crimes Rise As Immigration Debate Intensifies," Huffington Post, Oct. 18, 2011.
4. "Operation Wetback," PBS.
5. "Obama Administration Deported Record 1.5 Million People," NPR, Dec. 24, 2012.
6. "Analysis: Romney Done in by GOP's Latino Problem," ABC News, Nov. 7, 2012.
7. "PICO, Presente, MoveOn, AVEF Deliver 30,000 Petitions Condemning Rep. Rohrabacher's Treatment of DREAMer Jessica Bravo," America's Voice blog, March 5, 2013.
8. "Boehner: GOP congressman who used slur should apologize immediately," NBC News, March 29, 2013.