You read that right. I don’t know who South Carolina state senator Jake Knotts is or what he is about, but if this is true, he needs to resign — and quickly:
Lexington state Sen. Jake Knotts called political rival and Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley a “raghead” on an Internet political talk show Thursday evening.
The term is a slur typically used against Arabs or other ethnic groups who wear turbans or headdresses. Haley, a state representative from Lexington, is the child of Indian immigrants.
“We already got one raghead in the White House,” Knotts said. “We don’t need another in the Governor’s Mansion.”
The story goes on to cover the response from Haley and a miserable excuse for an apology from Knotts (‘it was a joke!’):
“What the race in ’04 proved was the goodness of the people of South Carolina,” Haley said after a Columbia campaign stop. “What the race in 2010 will prove is the goodness of the people of South Carolina, that there fewer people of the Jake Knotts (ilk) and that there are a lot more good, educated people (who) want their voice heard in government.”
Haley campaign manager Tim Pearson said that Knotts was an embarrassment to the state, and that South Carolina voters would make it clear on Tuesday they are better than this.
S.C. GOP chairwoman Karen Floyd called on Knotts to apologize, which he did late Thursday.
Knotts said his comments were meant as humor.
“My ‘raghead’ comments about Obama and Haley were intended in jest,” Knotts said in a statement. “Bear in mind that this is a freewheeling, anything-goes Internet radio show that is broadcast from a pub. It’s like local political version of ‘Saturday Night Live.’
“Since my intended humorous context was lost in translation, I apologize. I still believe Ms. Haley is pretending to be someone she is not, much as Obama did, but I apologize to both for an unintended slur.”
Maybe the video, if and when it is released (not up on the Pub Politics site as of this post), will make it so eminently clear that Knotts’ comments were some kind of brilliant avant garde humor that I will be eating my words in 24 hours. But if this is the senator doing an “unintended slur” I’d hate to hear what he sounds like when he’s really trying to offend somebody.