LAS VEGAS (ABC News) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, apologized Friday for Asian-themed jokes he made while speaking to the Asian Chamber of Commerce in Las Vegas on Thursday night.
“My comments were in extremely poor taste and I apologize. Sometimes I say the wrong thing,” Reid said in his brief statement.
Reid’s remarks were caught on tape and posted to the Internet by the Republican opposition group America Rising.
While speaking to the Asian Chamber of Commerce, Reid said, “I don’t think you’re smarter than anybody else, but you’ve convinced a lot of us you are.”
The Senate Majority leader then went on to explain the difficulty of encountering multiple people with the last name Wong.
“One problem that I’ve had today is keeping my Wongs straight,” Reid told the crowd as he leaned into the microphone.
The Asian Pacific American Advocates released a statement blasting Reid for his “racist and disgusting” comments.
“Senator Reid’s comments are offensive and racist to Asian Pacific Americans. He falsely assumes that our communities continue to perpetuate the model minority stereotype, when we have been actively working to highlight the vast socioeconomic disparities within our communities,” the group wrote in their statement.
“Additionally, the Senator’s comment about keeping his Wongs straight is, simply put, racist and disgusting. It implies that Asian Pacific Americans are identical, monolithic, and interchangeable and devalues our individual identities, cultures, and heritage. Though we understand the Senator has apologized, half-hearted apologies are not enough. He must make intentional efforts to work with Asian Pacific American in a culturally acceptable and appropriate manner.”