Alabama 3rd District U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers is under fire from what he describes as “extremist liberal groups” for a comment he made during a Homeland Security Committee meeting on disaster preparedness last Thursday. But the Congressman says his comment is being taken out of context in an effort to “take an innocent conversation and try to turn it into something it was not.”
Following Puerto Rican Congressional Delegate, Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon, Rogers began his questioning by stating, “It’s refreshing to finally have a witness who doesn’t have an accent,” directed to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Brock Long.
Latino Rebels, a blog self described by their founder Julio Ricardo Varela during an NPR interview as “independent and a little bit alternative,” took to Twitter asserting that Rogers was referring to the “accents” of Puerto Rican individuals testifying on hurricane preparedness following the incredibly destructive Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, which struck the island in the fall of 2017.
“Why is @RepMikeRogersAL saying the following, “It’s refreshing to finally have a witness that doesn’t have an accent before this committee,” right after @RepJenniffer of
#PuertoRico speaks. And Rogers has a F-ING ACCENT! #NoMames” tweeted news site Latino Rebels.
Why is @RepMikeRogersAL saying the following, “It’s refreshing to finally have a witness that doesn’t have an accent before this committee,” right after @RepJenniffer of #PuertoRico speaks. And Rogers has a F-ING ACCENT! #NoMames pic.twitter.com/3LfCzdLPuh
— Latino Rebels (@latinorebels) March 20, 2018
But Rogers says that’s not what he was doing. He explained the statement was a joke being made to Long, who formerly served as the Alabama EMA Director.
“The witness at the hearing, FEMA Administrator Brock Long, was previously EMA Director in the State of Alabama. I have known Brock a long time in Alabama and actually had breakfast with him and my colleagues before the Homeland Security Full Committee hearing last week. My opening remarks directed at Brock Long were, ‘Mr. Long, it is refreshing to have a witness without an accent.’ It is crystal clear that it was a joke directed at Brock because he and I both have similar accents from the South. A joke that we are the ones that don’t have an accent and everyone else does,” Rogers explained.
Rogers said he considers the accusations that his remarks were meant as anything but a joke, “fake news” being pushed by “radical liberal groups.”
“Fake news is what this all boils down to,” Rogers continued. “Extremist liberal groups like Latino Rebels, who claim to ‘cause trouble’, take an innocent conversation and try turn it into something it was not… It is disgusting that these radical liberal groups are pushing around lies that just foment hatred and further divide our country.
“Even Congresswoman Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon (R-PR) knew it was a joke directed at Brock and she has even said so herself,” added Rogers.
“What @RepMikeRogersAL was clearly referring to was @FEMA_Brock ’s enunciation, which like http://Rep.Rogers ’, is considered by many people to be a Southern drawl. It was a light-hearted bit of humor and I appreciated it. Rep. Rogers was not being negative about any accent,” she tweeted back to Latino Rebels on Tuesday.
What @RepMikeRogersAL was clearly referring to was @FEMA_Brock ’s enunciation, which like https://t.co/Y0I9RDTh5G’, is considered by many people to be a Southern drawl. It was a light-hearted bit of humor and I appreciated it. Rep. Rogers was not being negative about any accent
— Jenniffer González (@RepJenniffer) March 20, 2018
But not everyone sees the comment the same way as Gonzalez-Colon.
“It’s time to expect more from our leaders,” Hagan said in an email to her supporters. “We’ve had enough partisan divisiveness and hatred — we need Representatives who respect and are willing to work with all people for solutions to our common problems. It’s time for this 16-year incumbent to go.”
Before Rogers released his statement adding what he feels is clarifying context to his remarks, several Alabamians took to social media to react to the video:
- John Hammontree (via Facebook): Let he who is without accent, cast the first stone.
- Pam Franklin (via Facebook): It would be refreshing to have someone else represent your district from our state, Mike.
- Jennifer Moore (via Facebook): I would like to be able to go one day without being embarrassed of my state.
- kunderthunt (via Reddit) You can hear the “I let my racism slip out oops” pause
Watch the video clip below: