A Nebraska lawmaker’s slip of the tongue morphed into a major controversy on Thursday, with colleagues debating whether he was being racist. During comments on the floor the day before, state Sen. Mike Groene referred to Sen. Mike Flood, who owns a TV company, as a “media Mongol.” When he was asked about it later, he said he meant to say “media mogul,” but added: “I think he’s got mixed heritage, so that qualifies him as a ... mongrel and he’s aggressive so that does qualify him sometimes as a Mongol.” The Omaha World-Herald reports that Sen. Matt Hansen on Thursday decried Flood’s remarks, saying Mongol was used as a slur for people with Down syndrome and that the term mongrel was offensive.
“I want the body to stand up and show a bit of backbone and say, ‘Hey, at a minimum, you shouldn’t be racist on the microphone,’” Hansen said. Groene defended himself by saying that because his heritage is Irish and German, he could be called a mongrel, and that Mongols had “conquered the earth.” He also said Hansen was being mean. “I stand by my words,” he added. “And I’m not going to apologize.”