Initially, and in typical GOP fashion, when Rep. Cárdenas demanded to know who shouted it, the classless GOP reps wouldn’t fess up.
”There was about 50 mostly male Republicans staring at me, and no one would admit that they said it. I asked several times but no one owned up to the fact that they said it.”
Rep. Cárdenas, who, by the way, has Mexican rather than Puerto Rican heritage, wouldn’t let the matter drop. Eventually, the culprit came forward. Rep. Jason T. Smith (R-MO) finally admitted to shouting it—several hours later.
Although he eventually apologized, Smith’s communications director insisted that the verbal assault wasn’t meant to be racist at all. The congressman was just shouting “to all the Democrats who were down vacationing in Puerto Rico last weekend during the shutdown.”
Leave it to the GOP to always find a way to go even lower AFTER they make a racist remark.
It’s true: Rep. Cárdenas traveled with a delegation of Democratic representatives to Puerto Rico to bring attention to the lack of progress on the recovery efforts for the devastated island, which have all but stopped due to the shutdown. The trip was designed to call attention to the continued suffering of American citizens; or, to put it the way the White House described it, ”partying on the beach.”
I’m sure it was just sheer coincidence that the GOP representative yelled “Go back to Puerto Rico!” towards the only Hispanic Democratic congressman in the room, and then forgot that he yelled it, until it became clear he was going to be found out anyway.
Unsurprisingly, Jason Smith is a die-hard Trump fan. He votes with him 93% of the time, and actually defended Trump for bragging about assaulting women—by saying that Hillary Clinton’s calling white supremacists “deplorable” was just as bad.
After the Smith-Cárdenas dust settled, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) thought it necessary to formally remind members of Congress to not be racist to each other.
“I would hope that we could refrain from any implications that have any undertones of prejudice or racism or any kind of -ism that would diminish the character and integrity of one of our fellow members.”
I would hope so too, Steny, but I doubt that’ll happen anytime soon. Fellow republican Steve King has been spewing a constant stream of rabid bigotry over 15 years, and only just now has the GOP even bothered to acknowledge it. At that rate, I’d say Jason Smith is safe to spew “-isms” at minorities for at least another decade.