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Report: Hopkinsville state rep. apologizes for saying anti-semitic slur during committee meeting

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LRC
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A Kentucky state representative from Hopkinsville has apologized for using an anti-semitic slur during a committee meeting earlier this week, according to a report from the Lexington-Herald Leader.

The newspaper reported Wednesday that Republican State Rep. Walker Thomas of Hopkinsville was speaking during a Capital Projects and Oversight Committee meeting Tuesday about if the state could negotiate a lower price on a state lease agreement.

A state official was informing the committee about two $1 leases from a Mayfield company to the state government, the small price of the lease needed due to the December tornado outbreak.

Thomas then asked if the state could “Jew them down” on the price of the agreement. The committee chairman, Republican State Sen. Rick Girdler of Somerset, repeated the phrase during the meeting.

“We got a representative up here (asking) if you could Jew them down a little bit on the price,” Girdler said during the meeting. “That ain’t the right word to use. ‘Drop them down,’ I guess.”

The newspaper reported Thomas said it was a phrase heard “throughout my life” and that he regretted using it, apologizing to anyone harmed by the slur’s use. Girdler in an apology said he has “no hate or malice” in his heart toward anyone in the Jewish community, according to the newspaper.

Kentucky Jewish Council leadership told the newspaper the slur has no place in Kentucky and is a “dangerous relic of a hateful bygone era.” The Jewish Democratic Council of America on social media said the use of the phrase by Republican lawmakers “emboldens antisemites and makes Jews less safe.”

The American Jewish Committee lists the phrase in its “Translate Hate Glossary.”

“Rooted in the false stereotype that Jews are cheap or stingy, the phrase ‘Jew down’ may seem to be a harmless expression that’s used in everyday vernacular. However, it is an insulting, antisemitic misrepresentation of Jewish behavior that plays into the trope of Jews as greedy money handlers who are unwilling to part with their earnings,” the glossary entry states.

“The common, mainstream use of antisemitic terms, like Jew down, plays a dangerous role in normalizing antisemitism and reinforcing conspiracy theories in the minds of antisemites.”

Thomas has represented state House District 8 since 2017, making up parts of Christian and Trigg counties. Pam Dossett, a Democrat running against Thomas for the seat, on social media called the use of the phrase “offensive and unacceptable.”

"Liam Niemeyer is a reporter for the Ohio Valley Resource covering agriculture and infrastructure in Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia and also serves Assistant News Director at WKMS. He has reported for public radio stations across the country from Appalachia to Alaska, most recently as a reporter for WOUB Public Media in Athens, Ohio. He is a recent alumnus of Ohio University and enjoys playing tenor saxophone in various jazz groups."
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