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Not kosher

Gazette staff April 23rd, 2013

Rep. Dennis Johnson, R- Duncan, might need to see a brain surgeon. The folds of his brain might be harboring a streak of anti-Semitism.

Credit: Brad Gregg

At least that’s according to the man himself, who told The Oklahoman last week “the wrinkles of my brain” compelled him to use the phrase “Jew down” in the state House of Representatives.

“They might try to Jew me down on a price. That’s fine,” Johnson said during April 17 debate on legislation impacting retail outlets. “You know what? That’s free market, as well.”

Perhaps Johnson was unaware the phrase refers to a caricature of Jewish people as stingy and shrewd in money matters. Regardless, he didn’t appear particularly contrite when a House colleague told him what he had said. Johnson smiled broadly.

“I apologize to the Jews,” he said.

“They’re good small businessmen as well.”

That was enough to satisfy House Speaker T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton. A spokesman for Shannon noted that, hey, people say all sorts of things they regret.

Similar sentiments were echoed by Edie Roodman, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma City.

“He apologized on the floor. He had several conversations with Jewish community members who felt he was sincere and remorseful, and we’ve moved on,” Roodman said. “You can’t really do more than that.”

Maybe so. But Chicken-Fried News can’t help but be reminded of the New Hampshire state legislator who recently referred to women as “vaginas” or the county commissioner in Kansas who uttered “n***er-rig” in a public meeting. Would one of Johnson’s peers have received a pass on those comments?

Knowing the Oklahoma Legislature, it’s just a matter of time until we find out.

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