I am honestly not getting what is so offensive about this story:
Republican Sen. Conrad Burns, whose re-election campaign is pressing for tighter immigration controls, referred to his house painter as “a nice little Guatemalan man” and suggested that worker as well employees of a roofing company he hired might be in the country illegally.
“The other day, the little fella who does our maintenance work around the house, he’s from Guatemala, and I said, ‘Could I see your green card?'” Burns said at a June meeting recorded by Democrats. “And Hugo says, ‘No.’ I said, ‘Oh gosh.'”
Burns spokesman Jason Klindt said the worker, Hugo Reyes, is legally in the United States, owns a painting company and the senator “never had any doubt” that Reyes is a legal resident.
“He was telling an anecdotal story about a time he took the extra step to make sure a worker was legal,” Klindt said.
Burns, who voted against a Senate bill this year that would have offered millions of illegal immigrants a chance at citizenship, also joked about the issue at a debate against his Democratic opponent, Jon Tester, earlier this year.
Burns said he was on the phone with his contractor when he saw an interview with an illegal immigrant on television. The immigrant said he was a roofer and was headed north.
“So I told my roofer, you better go out and get your help,” Burns said. “Or you won’t get my house roofed.”
Burns’ comments come on the heels of controversial remarks by Republican Sen. George Allen of Virginia, who called a Democratic staffer of Indian descent “Macaca.” Indian-American groups and others criticized Allen for his racially insensitive comments after a video was posted on the Internet.
I don’t think this is in any way comparable to the George Allen story, and from what I can tell, not only is Hugo in the country legally, have a good relationship with Conrad Burns, but he probably is, in fact, a “nice little Guatemalen man.” I honestly don’t see what the big deal about this is, and I see that Pat Buchanan is upset about it, so that leads me to believe there really is nothing to this.
About the only problem I can see is that any politician should know that their opposition is going to use whatever they say against them, so maybe we all should be on pins and needles about anything and everything having to do with race and immigration, simply because of the times. But I don’t see how what Burns (who I really have no love for) did that is so terrible here. Fill me in with what I am missing.
Just another case of “OMFG! Republican hypocrasy!”
DailyKos is on a crusade against Conrad Burns and after the epic level “firefighters are overpaid and lazy” comment Burns dropped on us last month, Kos has been jonesing for another good swing at the Senator.
Because he’s a patronizing, racist, inconsiderate ass, AGAIN.
It’s way funnier when Stephen Colbert does it. The Daily Kos take on it:
But if you think that critique is a bit weird, take a look at the GOP swing on Markos himself.
That evil bastard. People like Markos makes me sick.
Well, that weird GOP shit makes a lot more sense when you realize that they think “relaxing vacation” means “underage sex tourism.”
Yes, Markos is evil. It turns my stomach that people like him take “relaxing” vacations. Makes. Me. Vomit.
You would never see Bush doing something like that.
Anyone who has taken a look at some comparative statistics on laborers knows that taking a vacation is _highly_ un-American.
And since I’m someone whose IP address is not in the U.S., I can tell you that the GOP doesn’t even want un-American people to _look at their web site_.
I don’t see the offense, either. But I am offended by Sen. Allen also calling Sen. Akaka a macaca! Reprehensible.
Well, he’s called Arabs ‘ragheads.’
Also, he replied “It’s a hell of a challenge” when someone asked him, regarding Washington D.C., “what’s it like living with all those n!ggers?”
In short, he’s a repulsive racist. And a crook. And a moron.
true, it’s not like he used the term “back-door draft” or anything.
Not offensive, maybe. But telling, after the “Firefighter” flap Burns created just a few weeks ago.
A bigger flap, and of course, one that went unnoticed here.
From the FORBES article I cited above.
Burns is just a complete idiot. The kind of guy Darrell could defend, for example.
I think the problem comes mainly from the diminutive “little man” sounds insulting to me.
Agreed Mark, that’s what I caught. I use the term “little man” talking to my lap dog and my husband’s grandsons…any other time, if I use it it is used in a negative way.
Burns might not be getting so much flack for this if it wasn’t just another part of his “body of work”.
Just as the assumption that that “makaka” had come from another country just because he was brown, so it is with the assumption that he has to ask his little brown laborer for a green card.
Another vote for “little fella.” It’s not a big deal, but it is condescending and obnoxious when used to describe an adult.
Sen. George Allen
The answer is nothing. There is nothing about offensive about what Conrad said, just as there was nothing truly offensive about what I said. We must stop playing the race card and return to doing the people’s business.
Your son of the south,
George “Fightin’ Felix” Allen
I just assumed that this quote was being tossed around to prove that Burns is soft on illegal immigrants. Not really a bad idea, either.
Apparently, this guy is a regular Bill Bennett.
The Other Steve
I totally agree.
I mean the George Allen calling some dark skinned guy Macaca wasn’t indicative of any racism.
And calling every dark skinned guy you meet an illegal immigrant isn’t indicative of any sort of bias either.
So really, what’s the big deal here?
Christ it’s not like he complained that a bunch of Virginia firefighters waiting for a plane to go back home after working on some Montana forest fires were lazy or something!
The Other Steve
Damn you ThymeZone!
Here I was agreeing with John that Burns is a Saint and an example to set forth before Children of all Ages, and you got to go throw ice cubes on my fire!
Some men also use the term “little man” to refer to a part of their anatomy–just kidding. I don’t think that the expression is particularly racist, but it’s certainly condescending, and if the person using it has any association with racism (i.e., the Republican party is not very popular with minorities) he’ll get dinged for it.
Well, it depends on whether you are describing a White Johnson or a Black Johnson. We could rule out the Black Johnsons, but that Would Be Wrong ™.
So, I think what we can take away from this, John, is that there’s nothing inately racist in Conrad’s comment, that he’s getting flak from the paleocons because he actually talks to people who might have non-European ancestry, and that in general he’s a complete idiot, a fact already previously known.
That about cover it?
Agreed that the “nice little” and “little feller” part is condescending, expecially repeating the “little.” It’s, well, belittling. Kind of “nice little lady, yore shore cute…” type of condescending. John, I suggest you consider the same comment substituting words and see if that trips your “this doesn’t come across well” meter.
“The other day, the little lady who does our maintenance work around the house… ” “she’s a nice little woman”
“The other day, the little black feller who does our maintenance work around the house…” “a nice little african-american…”
Interestingly, it appears some conservatives are upset because he was taking lightly the possibility he was employing an illegal immigrant.
Maybe that’s because Burns’s Guatamaluan painter is sticking it to his wife. Ba-zing!
Well, I think the evidence is clear that Burns is a racist — see above — but I don’t see anything damning in this incident. No worries, though. Burns will be complaining about the goddamned Portugese or those smelly Paraguayans before the week’s out.
What I do find interesting about this incident is that a right-wing politician in a western state would be dumb enough to say he’d hired an immigrant and didn’t know or care if he was legal. I can’t imagine that’s going over too well with the anti-immigration folks in his base.
“Defeatocrats”? Really? Was that a mailing sent to third graders?
It’s the “nice little man” comment that jerked my chain. Pat pat on head, EXACTLY.
Condescending and snobbish.
Ugh. I just saw video of this on Countdown–and Conrad Burns comes off as being easily ten times stupider in the video.
Wait a second, it’s not this Hugo Reyes, is it?
If so, a green card is the least of his worries.
If we needed a reason to be worried that the American Experiment can fail in the near term …. how in the fucking world did this butthead ever get elected to any office … much less to the most powerful deliberative body in the world?
I wouldn’t hire this guy to mow my lawn. I have a little guy who does it for me, anyway. Okay, the little guy is me, and he doesn’t do all that great a job, but he works cheap.
No, Otto: it was meant for mainstream Republicans – third-graders are considered too mature for this sort of stuff.