A powerful Republican leader in the Alabama state Senate apologized yesterday for referring to African Americans as “aborigines,” calling his comments “careless and unnecessary.” State Sen. Scott Beason (R) was recorded making the comments as part of an undercover investigation, the tapes of which were played in court, the AP reports:
Beason was recorded making the remarks about gamblers in predominantly black Greene County. He made the recordings while helping the FBI investigate claims of lawmakers being bribed by gambling interests to pass a bill legalizing video poker games. In one transcript, Beason and two other Republican legislators were talking about economic development in Greene County and the customers at one of its largest employers, Greenetrack casino in Eutaw.
“That’s y’all’s Indians,” one Republican said.
“They’re aborigines, but they’re not Indians,” Beason replied.
Beason’s comments were played several months ago, but he is only now apologizing. Beason has a history of making offensive comments about racial minorities, including saying that lawmakers should “empty the clip” to stop undocumented immigration, and state Democrats are calling for him to resign or at least be removed as chairman of the powerful Senate Rules Committee. “Racism should have no place in the Alabama Senate. It is in the best interest of all Alabamians that he resign immediately,” said state Sen. Vivian Figures (D), who is African American.
But the Senate Republican Caucus said Beason will be allowed him to retain his position, saying his apology was sufficient. “The Republicans have a supermajority,” said state Democratic chairman Mark Kennedy, “And this is the man they choose to lead one of the most powerful committees in the Legislature.”