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Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by Lynn Campbell   
Friday, 03 April 2009 13:27
State Senator Apologizes for Using Epithet

Iowa Senator Jack Hatch apologized this week and publicly asked for forgiveness on the Senate floor for using the racially derogatory "N" word last week in frustration over an insurance exchange being stripped out of a health-care-reform bill he championed.

Hatch later characterized a press conference he held on the issue with black lawmakers Wayne Ford (D-Des Moines) and Ako Abdul-Samad (D-Des Moines) and leaders of the NAACP and Black Ministerial Alliance not as damage control, but as "continuing education" for comments he made.

"If we just let this pass by ,there will be another politician coming in front of this public saying he is sorry and then slipping away," said Hatch (D-Des Moines). "This is way too important for that. This is not just something we can slip under the rug. There was a character deficit in me that came out in that moment."

Hatch said the comments were "about the process" and not directed toward anyone. He met with Ford, Abdul-Samad, and the other leaders, apologized, and proposed that they "keep the dialogue open" and have "a series of seminars or forums."

Linda Carter-Lewis, president of the Des Moines branch of the NAACP, said that "Senator Hatch, along with his apology, has agreed to and is very interested in working with us to personally grow from this and to help others benefit and grow from this mistake," she said. "We must not let this set us back or divide us. We must grow and change for the better together."

The Reverend Keith A. Ratliff Sr., NAACP state director for Iowa and Nebraska, said using racially derogatory language is never appropriate, and being under pressure or being upset can't be used as an excuse.