Posted on Fri, Apr. 10, 2009
East Texas lawmaker tells Asian-Americans to get whole ’nuther name
By BUD KENNEDY bkennedy@...
Every session, somebody in the Texas Legislature says something so phenomenally stupid, America takes note.
This session, that task has fallen Rep. Betty Brown, a Terrell Republican, who came from her East Texas ranch to tell a Chinese-American lawyer at a "voter ID" hearing that if Asian-Americans can’t get accurate IDs, they should pick new names "easier for Americans to deal with."
Gosh. East Texas is full of fine people.
I have no idea why some can’t run for the elective offices.
Instead, we get stuck with lulus like Brown and:
■ Mineola Republican Bryan Hughes, who has introduced a resolution declaring Texas’ "sovereignty" and "states’ rights," harking back to the last George Wallace campaign.
■ Center Republican Wayne Christian, who says schools are heading in a "heinous" direction and wants science courses to specifically teach "weaknesses" of evolution instead of just "all sides."
■ And Tyler Republican Leo Berman, 73, who rails about schools having to educate American-born children of immigrants and who told a Chinese-American lawyer at a forum to "go home."
Within hours of Brown’s gaffe Tuesday in a House Elections Committee hearing on "voter ID" — apparently illegal voters are overrunning the polls from Athens to Gun Barrel City — a satirical Web page offered the "Betty Brown Name Generator."
"Is your name too hard to understand? Pesky Asian heritage got you down?" the Name Generator asked at the Web site rumandmonkey.com.
"Try our 'Betty Brown Name Generator’ guaranteed to give you a name ANY poll worker can understand."
I tried my name.
Apparently, Kennedy doesn’t translate in East Texas.
My new "Betty Brown-approved name" is Bubba "Chicken and Dumplings" Brown.
I called Ramey Ko, 28, the Austin lawyer who was testifying before the committee when Brown addressed him.
Ko, a Democrat and founder of Asian Americans for Obama, said Asians often run into problems because some IDs show phonetic spellings or family names while others show Americanized names.
Brown asked him, "Do you think that it would behoove you and your citizens to adopt a name that we could deal with more readily?"
Later, she asked: "Can’t you see that this is something that would make it a lot easier for you and the people who are poll workers if you could adopt a name just for identification purposes that’s easier for Americans to deal with?"
Ko called the remarks "not overtly malicious but subtle racism."
He’s from Denton, he said, "But some people always think we’re not from America."
He looked up his new East Texas name and laughed.
"I’m Billy Ray 'Kool-Aid’ Brown."
I just wish some East Texas lawmakers would go back where they came from.
Bud Kennedy’s column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7538