During a hearing on migrant children, Texas Rep. Dennis Bonnen (R) referred to Hurricane Katrina child victims as “coοnαss.”
Bonnen, Speaker Pro Tempore of the House, lamented the state’s experience with children from Hurricane Katrina when discussing how to help migrant children.
“I want to be clear,” he said. “A Katrina child is far different. We can make jokes and pick on Louisiana and it’s fun and all that, but it’s a hell of a lot different bringing a kid over from Louisiana than a child who’s just made a treacherous journey from South America. … We had to have a teacher who could do coοnαss and English, but here we have to do Spanish and English, maybe, and there’s a higher marker.”
According to ThinkProgress, the term “cοonαss” is a racially inflammatory term:
The term “coοnαss” refers to people of Cajun descent. It is considered an offensive slur by many Cajuns, and Dictionary.com describes it as a “vulgar slang term” that is “used with disparaging intent and is perceived as insulting.” The Louisiana Legislature formally condemned the use of the word in 1981.
The racial slur was first pointed out by Ed Espinoza of Progress Texas:
“When Republicans use slurs so casually, it proves they are still clueless as to what inclusion means,” he said. “An elected official should have the judgment to know that terms like this are unacceptable, especially when directed towards kids.”
As Progress Texas noted, “When Alabama’s head football coach Nick Saban used the term in an off-the-cuff remark in 2007, it led to national media coverage and a public apology.”