Another day, another Texas lawmaker talking
out his ass without a filter. This time it’s Rep. Dennis Bonnen, a Republican state Representative who is Speaker Pro Tempore of the Texas House. While chairing a committee hearing about school resources that would be needed to accommodate migrant children, Bonnen mentioned children who had moved to Texas from Louisiana. Many of these “Katrina kids” came from Cajun country and Bonnen was remembering the experience educating them.
“I want to be clear, a Katrina child is far different. We can make jokes and pick on Louisiana and it’s fun and all that, but it’s a hell of a lot different bringing a kid over from Louisiana than a child who’s just made a treacherous journey from South America. … We had to have a teacher who could do coonass and English, but here we have to do Spanish and English, maybe, and there’s a higher marker.”
Did you catch it? As someone of Cajun descent (on my mother’s side), the word sticks out to me like the “N-word” would for an African-American. Coonass. It’s a slur, a “disparaging term for a Cajun,” according to the Free Dictionary. Using it at all is insulting, using it to refer to children is obnoxious on a whole new level.
This is the Texas Republican party. They say that they are aiming for a more inclusive party then they do stuff like this. Ed Espinoza, executive director of Progress Texas, rightly (no pun intended) stated:
“When Republicans use slurs so casually, it proves they are still clueless as to what inclusion means. An elected official should have the judgment to know that terms like this are unacceptable, especially when directed towards kids.”
This particular slur is so offensive to Cajuns that Louisiana passed a bill in 1981 officially condemning the use of it. The last time the media got wind of someone using it, he had to publicly apologize.
Bonnen is no stranger to controversy. He wrote a bill to make English the official state language and another to open the records of “illegal immigrants” to the public. He is well-known as a xenophobe in the Texas House. His position in the House should be revoked, at the very least. He has proven that he does not represent all the people in Texas. He damn sure doesn’t represent all the children of that state. I guarantee.
Too bad for Bonnen, it was captured on tape:
h/t Think Progress