DeKalb County Democratic U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson sought to register his indignation on the new right-to-work law in Michigan, so he strode to the floor of the House on Wednesday to make a grand metaphor about labor unions in a half-hour speech.
“What happens when you put in a cage fight a giant in with a midget? Well, the midget will not win the fight, I’m going to tell you that. Why? It just doesn’t carry enough weight to do so. But if you put 30 midgets in with that giant, then the midgets have a chance.”
That’s why America needs organized labor, see? Because the midgets need to team up and collectively bargain, or fight the giant.
But Johnson realized today that he might have insulted some people, so he returned to the floor for an apology. The video is not embeddable yet but can be found here. Johnson compared the formally common use of the “n-word” to that of the “m-word:”
“Just within the last 12 hours or so, I have found that the use of the midget, excuse me, the use of the m-word is no longer socially acceptable. The m-word refers to a group of people, the little people, but when I say little people I’m not talking about the Leona Helmsley little people. I’m not talking about the 47 percent. I’m not talking about the takers and the makers as some would describe them. … It really refers to a medical condition, dwarfism is the name of that medical condition and sometimes I guess one can even say abnormally small people, abnormally small people, which to me I like that term better than dwarfism. So I wanted to say to all of those who may have been offended by my use of the term the m-word, I want you to know that it was out of ignorance and not spite or hatred that I use that term and please know that I will never use that term again.”
Johnson spokesman Andy Phelan explained the reason for the apology thusly: “No group or groups reached out. He realized this morning that he used what some people feel is a prejudicial term, and he was determined to apologize and set the record straight. He used it as a teachable moment.”
Johnson advised C-SPAN viewers to go to lpaonline.org to learn more about “little people,” which is the preferred nomenclature.
- By Daniel Malloy, Political Insider