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Texas Politician Uses His Words, Fails

Should ‘probably’ insert foot in mouth

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Texas State Rep. Larry Taylor.(Facebook)

Do you struggle to find exactly the right word to describe something when speaking publicly? Do you ever wonder if there might be a better—nay, more appropriate—version of the word you are about to use? Not Texas State Rep. Larry Taylor, who displayed his unparalleled eloquence yesterday at a hearing for a legislative committee of which he is chairman:

During a hearing of the Joint Legislative Committee on Windstorm Insurance this afternoon, Chairman Larry Taylor was discussing delivery of quick and fair payments for windstorm victims. Unfortunately, to make his point he said, “Don’t nitpick, don’t try to Jew them down.”

Without pausing he added, “That’s probably a bad term” and then resumed his remarks.

A shockingly vague understatement coming from the articulate chairman, who soon issued a statement apologizing and adding a touch more specificity: “At a legislative oversight committee hearing today, I inadvertently used a phrase that many people find offensive.”

It’s difficult to overlook his unfortunate verb choice, particularly in the context, of Texas politics where anti-Jewish sentiments are not exactly new. Last year Michelle Goldberg examined the motives behind anti-Semitic attacks on Joe Straus, the Republican speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, leading up to the January election (which he won). While she found the attacks to be rooted more in Tea Party cultural ideologies, the underlying anti-Jewish tones remain troubling. Goldberg concluded:

What is clear is this: Texas tea party activists are targeting Straus, a fiscal conservative, as somehow culturally and ideologically alien, and at least some of his enemies are using religion against him. He’s still favored to win the election for House Speaker on January 11 and remains popular with his caucus. But the anti-Straus campaign, which is beginning to draw national attention, is the latest piece of evidence that the Tea Party is simply the Christian right by another name. Straus isn’t under attack because of his position on taxes or deficits. This is about culture war, and it’s a microcosm of current Republican politics, in which populist activists abhor any hint of moderation.

Texas Legislator: “Don’t Try to Jew Them Down” [Mother Jones]
Related: Texas Tea [Tablet Magazine]

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1. The Houston and Clear Lake Tea Parties were co-founded by a Jew, Me. The Libertarian Fiscal Conservatives who created the Tea Parties in Texas were pushed out by Christian Conservatives. We have regrouped under the Campaign for Liberty.

2. “Jew him down” is a common expression in Texas. I, a Jew, use it, so does my father and my friends. Texas Culture is not politically correct, Don’t hold us to your standards.

3. Strauss was targeted because he is a Jew. The New Tea Party People are nuts.

4. Ron Paul is not an anti-Semitic racist. He is the sweetest kindest politician and he wants nothing more than for us all to be equal and free.

This completes a Texas insiders view into local politics.

Mel Harrison says:

It’s sad that he used that phrase, but take Eric Kantor a Tea Party hero who has never objected to tea party Anti-Semitism. In my thinking he wouls have been an excellant concentration camp guard/

An apology saying some people might be offended is not an apology as it misplaces the responsibility from the offender to the offended. And a Jew who uses such an ugly term, as a previous commenter boasts doing, gives an insider’s “seal of approval” to an ugly stereotype.

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Texas Politician Uses His Words, Fails

Should ‘probably’ insert foot in mouth

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