ADL Welcomes Apology of Oklahoma State Representative for Anti-Semitic Remark on State House Floor

Dallas, TX, April 25, 2013 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today accepted the apology of Oklahoma State Representative Dennis Johnson, the state majority leader in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, for using the anti-Semitic expression “Jew down” while debating on the House floor on April 17.

Earlier this week, Rep. Johnson apologized for the offensive remark in a phone conversation with Roberta S. Clark, ADL’s Community Director for North Texas and Oklahoma, based in Dallas. His verbal apology was followed by a letter on April 25 (PDF) in which the state representative acknowledged that his comment on the House floor was “…a serious offense, and I have no excuse for using such a thoughtless phrase.” Rep. Johnson’s letter continued, “What I said was wrong and hurtful to many good and decent people. My words were unintentional and careless and do not indicate what is in my heart.”

“After corresponding with Representative Johnson and having several conversations with him, I am satisfied that he deeply regrets his words and that he is sincere when he says that he did not mean to use hurtful language,” Ms. Clark said. “While we understand that many people were upset with his behavior, we are disappointed that some chose to respond by leaving hateful voicemails and e-mail messages to his office. We accept his apology, and we hope that Mr. Johnson will make good on his commitment to learn from this experience and speak out against anti-Semitism and bigotry in the future.”

ADL reached out to Rep. Johnson after the video of his remarks on the house floor had gone viral on YouTube, prompting complaints to ADL and other Jewish organizations. In an April 18 letter to Rep. Johnson, the League explained that the phrase “Jew ‘em down” is derogatory and stems from longstanding anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jews being cheap or hoarding money.

ADL is the world’s leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of anti-Semitism and bigotry, its timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all. Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate with the same vigor and passion. A global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education, and fighting hate online, ADL is the first call when acts of anti-Semitism occur. ADL’s ultimate goal is a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or hate.