The Norman Transcript

Opinion

April 29, 2013

Ethnic slur gets dust-off

NORMAN — Two offensive acts were committed in the Oklahoma House of Representatives on Wednesday.

The first was when Rep. Dennis Johnson, R-Duncan, during floor debate on whether small businesses can compete with big-box retailers, said customers “... might try to Jew me down on a price.”

The second was when House Speaker T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, failed to condemn or even criticize Johnson’s slur. Shannon said, in a statement issued by a spokesman after the session, that Johnson “is not the first person to make a comment they regret. The chamber accepted his apology and has moved on.”

Johnson apparently was not aware that he uttered the offensive remark. When it was called to his attention he said, “Did I? I apologize to the Jews. They’re good small businessmen as well.”

A video of the House session reveals that Johnson laughed as he made that “apology” and that there was scattered laughter from the House floor.

“Jew me down” is a clearly derogatory phrase that perpetuates an ancient stereotype that Jewish people are cheap or unscrupulous in business dealings. There is no place for it in today’s society and certainly not in the seat of Oklahoma’s government.

— Tulsa World

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