The Republican Jewish Coalition is criticizing a member of its own party. RJC executive director Matt Brooks condemned Arkansas State Sen. Kim Hendren, who referred to Sen. Charles Schumer as "that Jew" at a Pulaski County GOP meeting last week.
"Sen. Hendren has since apologized for that comment, and rightly so," said Brooks in a statement Friday. "That kind of language, which identifies an individual solely by their religion, their race, or another characteristic, has no place in politics."
Hendren told a Republican blogger, “At the meeting I was attempting to explain that unlike Sen. Schumer, I believe in traditional values, like we used to see on The Andy Griffith Show. I made the mistake of referring to Sen. Schumer as ‘that Jew’ and I should not have put it that way as this took away from what I was trying to say."
The full RJC statement is after the jump, as well as the National Jewish Democratic Council’s statement — released a couple hours before the RJC statement — that "it is important that Republicans on the national and state levels send a strong message that it is absolutely unacceptable to refer to individuals solely by their religion":
Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Director Matthew Brooks said today:
The Republican Jewish Coalition condemns in the strongest terms the remark by Arkansas State Sen. Kim Hendren, who reportedly referred to U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer as "that Jew" at a Pulaski County GOP meeting last week. Sen. Hendren has since apologized for that comment, and rightly so.
That kind of language, which identifies an individual solely by their religion, their race, or another characteristic, has no place in politics.
The RJC has a long record of denouncing such comments, from Republicans or Democrats. We spoke out against Pat Buchanan as well as Howard Dean, and against Ramsey Clark as well as Bob Parker (once the Republican candidate for mayor of Indianapolis), after they used divisive language that reinforced negative stereotypes or played on prejudices about Jews, Christians, or others.
The Republican Party represents Americans from every religious and ethnic group. The GOP has welcomed the participation of Jewish Republicans. Rep. Hendren’s remarks were notable as an exception to the GOP’s tradition of inclusiveness, which stretches from President Lincoln, through leaders like Jack Kemp and Ronald Reagan, right to the present day.
And the NJDC:
Ira N. Forman, CEO of the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC), released the following statement:
We appreciate that Arkansas State Senator Kim Hendren, who is running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, has now apologized for referring to Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) as "that Jew." However, it is important that Republicans on the national and state levels send a strong message that it is absolutely unacceptable to refer to individuals solely by their religion.
Republicans must recognize that this type of language is not acceptable in public, but more importantly, this kind of language is even more unacceptable in private. If the GOP does not want to be a marginalized permanent minority, and if Republicans want to keep their supporters in the Jewish community, the party has the responsibility to make that clear.