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The Latest GOP Attempt at Hispanic Outreach

03/31/2013 05:55 pm ET | Updated May 31, 2013

Every time I write about the GOP's image problem with Latino voters, some conservative sends me an angry missive insisting that it's all the liberal media spreading lies. I discover that not only does the Republican Party respect Hispanics, but it has their best interests at heart. The missive usually ends by telling me that Republicans are actually the most open-minded and tolerant of Americans.

And then approximately 14 minutes later, a GOP leader will say something like this:

"My father had a ranch. We used to have 50 to 60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes."

That's Alaska Representative Don Young, a Republican, who recently said this during a radio interview. Honestly, I don't know what point he was trying to make, because I can't get past the casual use of the term "wetback."

Of course, Young's fellow Republicans were quick to distance themselves from his offhanded bigotry, while stressing, "Hey, hey, we're crazy about Latinos." But this was not some risqué joke or harmless gaffe. This was an elected official resorting to slurs when referring to the fastest-growing ethnicity in America.

Now, I'm not saying that the Democratic Party is immune to racism, but honestly, when was the last time you heard of a Democrat saying something so prima facie bigoted? Yes, I know all about Biden's "back in chains" comment -- something that is not even in the same universe as far as offensive language.

So I have to wonder why wildly derogatory and/or lunatic statements seem to spring solely from the mouths of Republicans.

Sure, such comments are not as egregious as the GOP tendency -- even eagerness -- to excuse rape. As such, perhaps misogyny is still the Republicans' number-one issue. But you would think a political movement that, by its own admission, has an image problem with ethnic minorities would take just the smallest care not to fling around racial epithets like its 1950.

So let's go ahead and accept the congressman's apology that "there was no malice in my heart or intent to offend," while dismissing his slur as a simple "poor choice of words."

But just this once, will you conservatives spare me the corrective email insisting that I have it all wrong? Can you just drop the denial about the white-hot strain of racism in your party that you have allowed to fester and grow? Instead, spend that energy by actually trying to drag your GOP brethren into the 21st century.

Or just keep doing what you're doing. Then sit back and wait from that big group hug from Latinos, because deep down we know that you really, really love us.