Republican Co-Majority Leader of the Oklahoma House of Representatives Dennis Johnson(Dennis Johnson Campaign/Flickr)
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Dennis Johnson Says It’s OK If People ‘Try To Jew Me Down’

Immediately apologizes, saying he thought it was a compliment

by
Allison Hoffman
April 18, 2013
Republican Co-Majority Leader of the Oklahoma House of Representatives Dennis Johnson(Dennis Johnson Campaign/Flickr)

Here we go again: not even 18 months after a state representative in Texas admonished his fellow lawmakers not to “Jew down” windstorm victims by scrimping on assistance, a member of neighboring Oklahoma’s state legislature used the same anti-Semitic phrase in a floor speech Wednesday. In a debate about a bill on price controls, Dennis Johnson, a Republican who is one of three co-majority leaders in the state’s House of Representatives, said of his customers, “They might try to Jew me down on the price. That’s fine. You know what, that’s free market as well.”

Johnson immediately responded to objections from his colleagues by offering this additional observation: “I apologize to the Jews. They’re good small businessmen as well.” Which is the kind of apology that makes it clear Johnson wasn’t really sure how he was being offensive.

Video is here.

Later, Johnson told reporters that he’d heard the phrase often as a child, and that it “was just something that came out from the wrinkles of my brain.”

Allison Hoffman is a senior editor at Tablet Magazine. Her Twitter feed is @allisont_dc.

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