Commentary

Dem Sen Candidate in Vital Race Now Apologizing for 'Racist' Monkey Joke

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Is what senatorial candidate Mark Kelly said in 2018 racist? By the standards of the left, the answer could very well be yes.

Kelly is the Democratic nominee for the upper chamber in Arizona and the husband of Gabrielle Giffords, the former congresswoman who survived an assassination attempt in 2011 and who has since become an advocate for gun control.

He’s also a former astronaut and Navy pilot, all of which would be a fairly impressive resume if there weren’t issues elsewhere. (For instance, on his record with China.)

Then there’s the unpleasant matter of “Rodrigo.”

Rodrigo, for those of you unaware, was apparently the new name of Kelly’s brother Scott, also a former astronaut. During a 2018 appearance before the Boy Scouts of America, Northern New Jersey Council, Mark Kelly was asked if Mars would ever be colonized.

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He mentioned that his brother had spent a year in space and that his DNA had been changed — whether it was from zero gravity or from radiation was unclear.

You could watch the video and tell this was going toward a terrible dad joke. What you didn’t know is that dad joke was potentially “racist.”

“I think the word hasn’t gotten out how bad it is for him,” Kelly told the audience. “You know, it’s gotten so bad, that we recently had to release him back into the wild.”

Was this joke racist?

“He’s like halfway between like an orangutan and a howler monkey. We even changed his name to Rodrigo. He lives in the woods. He lives in Eagle Rock Reservation,” he added, referencing a park and wildlife reserve in New Jersey.

Ho ho. See, his name isn’t Scott anymore because he’s no longer human. I wonder which race he thinks people named Rodrigo belong to! Let’s ask the 31 percent of his state’s residents who happen to be Hispanic.

The comment was pointed out by an Arizona Republican on social media — Moses Sanchez. According to The Arizona Republic, Sanchez is a businessman who unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Phoenix in 2018.

“Shameful video of Mark Kelly making a racist joke to an all-white crowd,” Sanchez tweeted Thursday.

“He must think people named Rodrigo look like monkeys. Time to move past this type of racism & time for the media to scrutinize Mark Kelly more thoroughly like they would a Republican.”

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It’s unclear whether the crowd is all-white, it must be noted. However, Kelly apologized to The Arizona Republic for the joke.

“My brother’s year in space was really hard on him and we tried to bring some light to his difficult ordeal, but this comment does not do that and I apologize and deeply regret it,” he said.

See if you follow this logic: Kelly’s brother’s “year in space was really hard on him” so Kelly called him “Rodrigo” and said he was a monkey.

Many years ago, hyper-fraudulent televangelist huckster Robert Tilton told his audience that he’d undergone plastic surgery because he’d prayed over so many of their letters that the ink had seeped through his skin and created bags under his eyes. That’s always stood out to me as the gold standard for bad excuses.

This doesn’t quite rise to that level, but I still give it about 7.5 out of 10 Tiltons. Making light of his brother’s hard situation is completely divorced from whether or not Kelly used a Hispanic name for a monkey that was supposed to represent his brother. The equivalence is a naked appeal to emotion, nothing more and nothing less.

Is it offensive? It’s difficult to see the wisdom of calling your brother a monkey and then saying his name is “Rodrigo.”

Then again, I’m not Mark Kelly, I don’t live inside his head and I don’t know whether he’s sufficiently woke for the modern Democratic Party. The fact he’s an astronaut and a huge supporter of gun control should probably provide a convenient blanket to cover this over with — but, you know, he was in the military.

Oh, wait, you’re telling me the Democrats care about our troops this week? It just right slipped my mind.

Whatever the case, the National Republican Senatorial Committee made it clear we not only needed to hear from Kelly on this, but also on the rest of his party’s agenda.

Kelly has had a fairly easy time of it — easy enough that, according to the RealClearPolitics average, he leads GOP Sen. Martha McSally by double digits. It’s only recently that questions about his business dealings have come to the fore.

Now we have this.

Arizona is a vital race, particularly since Kelly hasn’t shown the initiative to be an independent voice in the Senate. This is a probable rubber-stamp vote from a state that leans conservative, although it’s become more purple in recent elections.

However, by the standards of his own party, he’s committed the ultimate secular sin: telling a joke that straddles the “racist” line.

For the most part, the media’s letting this one slide. Conservatives need to demand they don’t.

Democratic politicians need to be held to the same standards the left holds Republicans to.

This comment would end almost any GOP candidate’s chances.

Live by the PC sword, die by the PC sword.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Birthplace
Morristown, New Jersey
Education
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture




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