WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — On Thursday, Senate Majority Harry Reid (D-Nev.), whose been a prominent activist of the Redskins team name, received scrutiny for making jokes many perceived to be racially insensitive at the expense of the Asian community.
Reid, speaking at a luncheon put on by the Asian Chamber of Commerce of Las Vegas, told an audience of business leaders, “I don’t think you’re smarter than anybody else, but you’ve convinced a lot of us you are.”
The crowd laughed. Then later, as another speaker took to the podium, Reid quickly grabbed the microphone, remarking, “One problem I’ve had today is keeping my Wongs straight.”
The second stereotype-targeted joke also received laughter.
Reid apologized for his remarks Friday afternoon, saying in a statement, “My comments were in extremely poor taste and I apologize. Sometimes I say the wrong thing.”
Following a June ruling by the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, which would revoke the Redskins’ six federal trademarks if upheld in federal court, Reid said on the Senate floor, “the writing is on the wall” for the team’s name.
In April, Reid contrasted the NFL’s lack of action taken against the name with NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s swift action in banning former Clippers owner Donald Sterling for racially-charged remarks leaked to the public.
“How long will the NFL continue to do nothing — zero — as one of its teams bears a name that inflicts so much pain on Native Americans?” Reid asked fellow senators. ”
Redskins president Bruce Allen responded to Reid’s continued activism in May, offering a “few important facts” about the name in a letter to the senator. In the letter, Allen also extended an invitation to a Redskins home game, which Reid promptly rejected.
The team also orchestrated a failed Twitter campaign, soliciting fans to “Tweet @SenatorReid to show your #RedskinsPride and tell him what the team means to you.”