During public testimony in the Election Committee, Republican Representative Betty Brown said something very interesting.
"Rather than everyone here having to learn Chinese - I understand it's a rather difficult language - do you think that it would behoove you and your citizens to adopt a name that we could deal with more readily here?"
Now the background.
Rep. Brown, a Republican, made it clear that nothing is sacred that gets in the way of Texas Republicans' extreme partisan agenda, asking a witness testifying on the problems the Republican Voter ID bill would create for Chinese-American Texans. That's when she said the above mention line.
According to the Texas Democratic Party, Rep. Brown then went on to put the onus on those who would be prevented from voting by the Republican Voter ID bill to figure out their own solution, saying to the aforementioned witness, "I see a need here for young people like you, who are obviously very bright, to come up with something that would work for you and then let us see if we can't make it work for us." While Rep. Brown later tried to back out of her statements, the damage was done.
The Texas Democratic Party is now asking for Rep. Brown to apologize.
"It's already shameful enough that the Republican Elections Committee members are trying to suppress the votes of countless Texans with their partisan Voter ID bill, and now Rep. Brown is adding insult to injury with her disrespectful comments," said Texas Democratic Party Chairman Boyd Richie. "We are calling on Rep. Betty Brown to apologize for her offensive and out-of-touch remarks."
The Asian American community is one of the fastest growing populations in Texas. If a law is going to disenfranchise a group of people, the solution cannot and should not be for a person to sacrifice their culture in order to have the right to vote.
As the Asian American Action Fund pointed clarified, "Texas has a rather substantial APA voting population, including a fair number of Republicans. Not to mention, current and previous elected officials including ex-Rep. Martha Wong and sitting Rep. Angie Chen Button."
AJ Durrani, President of the Asian American Democrats of Texas added to Chairman Richie's appeal. Durrani e-mailed the members of AADT saying:
Members of AADT,
On Wednesday April 8, during the Texas House of Representatives testimony on the Voter ID Bill, State Representative Betty Brown, R-Terrell, made shockingly intolerant and insensitive remarks about Asian Americans. An article from the Houston Chronicle.Com is provided below for details, as is a statement from Texas Democratic Party Chairman, Boyd Ritchie.
State Representative Betty Brown's racially insensitive remarks have no place in America, and she should immediately and unconditionally apologize for her remarks. Please contact State Representative Betty Brown about her unacceptable remarks and ask her to apologize immediately in a public forum.
Her email address is: [mailto:email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org]
Her postal mail and fax addresses, and phone numbers are as follows:
Room E1.404, Capitol Extension
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 463-2040 Fax
108 S. Pinkerton, Suite 105
Athens, TX 75751
(903) 677-6773 Fax
This is the Republican solution to the many problems with Voter Suppression legislation. If you are negatively effected by this ill conceived and unnecessary law, you should make sacrifices. If you are unwilling to sacrifice your job, your culture, your marriage, or anything else that may prevent you from voting, then you didn't want to vote bad enough.
Maybe that is why former Texas Republican Party Political Director Royal Masset estimated that a photo ID requirement would reduce Democratic turnout in Texas by 3%.
Mexican American Legislative Caucus chairman, and recent blog newcomer, Trey Martinez-Fischer has found a way to bring some levity to the situation. Once you get done asking for Rep. Brown to apologize, you can at least find out what your new name can be here. Let me introduce you to Elise Hughes KVUE's new political reporter. She may look familiar. Sort of like Jennifer Kim.
Update: Thanks to a friend on facebook, we now have the entire question and answer period between Ramey Ko and Rep. Betty Brown. There a couple really great points and our friend Ramey does a great job testifying.