NEW YORK – A local Republican lawmaker in Oklahoma received national attention
after using the term “Jew me down” while speaking about small business owners to
The phrase, objectively characterized as anti-Semitic,
refers to age-old stereotypes of Jews as cheap moneymen, haggling for lower
Representative Dennis Johnson, co-majority leader of the Oklahoma
House of Representatives, was arguing during a floor debate last week that the
quality of service was key to the success of small businesses, before noting
that some customers “try to Jew me down” on pricing, in his own experience,
according to The Tulsa World.
Johnson earned chuckles from his fellow
lawmakers as he issued a curt apology just seconds later, when an aide handed
him a note pointing out the indiscretion.
“I apologize to the Jews,” he
said. “They’re good small businessmen as well.”
After the story gained
national traction, Johnson expanded on his apology in the Oklahoman newspaper,
saying that the slur came from the “wrinkles of [his] brain” and that he would
never say it again.
Johnson collected $29,361 in donations in 2010 when
he was up for reelection. One of his largest benefactors was former vice
presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s political action committee, Prosperity
The state lawmaker earned the votes of just under 10,000 people– a
near two-thirds majority in the election.
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