Oklahoma lawmaker apologizes for Jewish slur

Republican co-majority leader of Oklahoma House of Reps used term “Jew me down” while speaking about business owners.

April 24, 2013 03:22
1 minute read.
Representative Dennis Johnson, co-majority leader of the Oklahoma House of Representatives

Dennis Johnson 370. (photo credit: Oklahoma State Legislarure)

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 his colleagues.

The phrase, objectively characterized as anti-Semitic, refers to age-old stereotypes of Jews as cheap moneymen, haggling for lower prices.

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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 PAC.

The state lawmaker earned the votes of just under 10,000 people– a near two-thirds majority in the election.

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