Up until recently, Oklahoma legislator Sally Kern was most famous for her homophobia and creationism. Now she's added racism and sexism to the mix — just for variety, we assume. Her "apology" for remarks on affirmative action is also a treasure.
Oklahoma's House is debating a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban affirmative action in government. According to the Tulsa World, "Critics charge the measure is really a political ploy to get a racially charged issue on the November 2012 presidential election ballot." Kern, a Republican state rep from Oklahoma City, gave a speech in support of the amendment, excerpted above, which claimed,
"We have a high percentage of blacks in prison, and that's tragic, but are they in prison just because they are black or because they don't want to study as hard in school? I've taught school, and I saw a lot of people of color who didn't study hard because they said the government would take care of them."
She also said that the pay gap is because women don't want to work hard and "they tend to spend more time at home with their families."
Oklahoma's NAACP has called for her resignation, but no such luck. Instead, Kern issued this apology, as quoted by the Tulsa World:
"I want to humbly apologize for my statements last night about African Americans and women. I believe that our government should not provide preference based on race or gender. I misspoke while trying to convey this point last night during debate.
Women are some of the hardest workers in the world. My husband is a pastor of a diverse, inner-city church and the way that my words came out last night is certainly not my true spirit."
In other words, I'm only sorry about insulting the work ethic of women, unless those women are black. Not to mention black men.
Back in 2008, Kern became notorious for this statement:
Studies show that no society that has totally embraced homosexuality has lasted more than, you know, a few decades. So it's the death knell of this country. I honestly think it's the biggest threat our nation has, even more so than terrorism or Islam - which I think is a big threat, okay? Cause what's happening now is they are going after, in schools, two-year olds...And this stuff is deadly, and it's spreading, and it will destroy our young people, it will destroy this nation.
By the way, on the subject of women and African-Americans in Oklahoma and their alleged lack of initiative, you should rinse out the bad taste in your mouth left by Kern and read Katherine Boo's brilliant 2003 New Yorker piece, "The Marriage Cure." It won't cheer you up, but it at least reflects some hard realities about race, poverty, and gender.