An Alaska politician who referred to Mexican laborers as "wetbacks" earlier in the week says he "meant no disrespect" by the term, but stopped short of apologizing, reports the Anchorage Daily News. Rep. Don Young was giving a radio interview Tuesday when, in a discussion about the economy, he used the term. "We used to hire 50 to 60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes," the Republican said of his father's farm in California. "You know it takes two people to pick the same tomatoes now. It's all done by machine."
After bloggers and the media picked up on the quote, Young issued a statement last night, saying he was just using a term that was common when he was growing up. "I know that this term is not used in the same way nowadays and I meant no disrespect," he wrote. But many have not been forgiving. "It kind of opens your eyes to the way Don Young thinks," said the president of the Hispanic Affairs Council of Alaska. "He didn't even pause. It's like that's just what he calls migrant farm workers." (He's not the only Alaska politician making the news.)