October 20th, 2009
02:29 PM ET
5 years ago

GOP officials apologize for Jewish stereotype

Jim Ulmer is the chairman of the Orangeburg County Republican Party.
Jim Ulmer is the chairman of the Orangeburg County Republican Party.

(CNN) – After his words attracted national attention and drew condemnation from a Jewish state senator, a South Carolina Republican official is now apologizing for co-writing a newspaper op-ed that described Jews as penny-pinchers.

James Ulmer, chairman of the Orangeburg County GOP, said he made a "great error" in the op-ed, which he penned along with Bamberg County GOP chairman Edwin Merwin.

The piece, which ran Sunday in the Orangeburg Times & Democrat, was meant to defend South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint's position against congressional earmarks.

"There is a saying that the Jews who are wealthy got that way not by watching dollars, but instead by taking care of the pennies and the dollars taking care of themselves," the piece read. "By not using earmarks to fund projects for South Carolina and instead using actual bills, DeMint is watching our nation's pennies and trying to preserve our country's wealth and our economy's viability to give all an opportunity to succeed."

State senator Joel Lourie, a Democrat and one of South Carolina's two Jewish lawmakers, issued a statement on Monday rebuking the two Republicans, calling them "individuals who unapologetically espouse racist and stereotypical attitudes."

He also called on DeMint and South Carolina GOP chairwoman Karen Floyd to denounce the comments.

Floyd did so on Tuesday, calling the observation "an offensive and inappropriate comment" while also accusing critics of using the controversy for political gain. Aides to DeMint have not responded to requests for comment. (UPDATE: DeMint has also weighed in.)

The Republican Jewish Coalition also blasted the op-ed. RJC Executive Director Matthew Brooks said in a statement that Ulmer and Merwin "have done a tremendous disservice to their party."

Ulmer e-mailed his apology to reporters late Monday. He said he "quoted a statement which I have heard many times in my life, truly in admiration for a method of bettering one's lot in life."

"I meant absolutely nothing derogatory by the reference to a great and honorable people," he said in the e-mail. "I hope that anyone and all who were offended by my comment will accept my humble apology."

UPDATE: Merwin added his apology on Tuesday morning.

"At this time I wish to deeply apologize for any material included in that letter that would be considered antisemitic [sic] in any way," he wrote in an e-mail to reporters and other Republican officials.

"I have always abhored [sic] in the past, and shall continue to do so in the future, anti-semitism [sic] in any form whatsoever. I concur fully with the apology offered by my co-author, Jim Ulmer, and likewise beg that any and all who were offended will accept my deep felt apology."


Filed under: Popular Posts • South Carolina
soundoff (301 Responses)
  1. A. Goodwin

    GOP – the gift that keeps on giving (to the Democrats, that is).

    October 20, 2009 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  2. chere

    humm.. maybe he meant the banksers or fed rsrv. they pinch pennies out of American Citizens (all Citizens from all Nations)
    They are greedy everyone knows it...but they are NOT Jews...They say they are but They are not! The Scripture talks about those people.

    October 20, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  3. Mississippi Miss

    Am I the only one who is tired of all of the political correctness, apologies and whimpering that is going on the the wide wide world?

    Tolerance is lovely, patience is beautiful, but political correctness is
    over the top. Apologies are soon going to be as taken for granted as the air we breathe. We all have filters, we can read, assmilate, filter out, factor in, and use our own common sense to get the gist of a point without the word by word analysis. Pretty soon we will need spell check for politcally incorrect words, or a Thesaurus to find a 'better word' to use. I wish we cared HALF as much about ACTIONS as we do words.

    Mama always said, Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. Some people should try repeating these words to themselves over and over again, so that they can stop crying on the playground.

    October 20, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  4. Debi

    There goes the Jewish vote for the GOP in 2010.

    Republicans: Good job totally pushing away EVERYONE that does not COMPLETELY agree with you.

    Open your minds. The bible wants you to accept people the way the are, not the way you want them to be.

    October 20, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  5. steven harnack

    O.K. He's done the apology, now comes the plea for donations so he can fight the liberal lies. Do we see a patern here? Are Republicans lining up to all have their Joe moment?

    October 20, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  6. Tony

    Again the "party of inclusion" shows its true soul.

    October 20, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  7. cooper

    What else would you expect from this state that brought you Mark "Soul Mate" Sanford. Jim "Waterloo" DeMint and Joe " You Lie" Wilson. Embarrased In SC.

    October 20, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  8. Greg Sikorski

    How is it that people of such shameless values are chosen to represent our nation? This is something that he has "always heard" and in a complimentary manner. Where did he hear such "compliments"? I'm sure that there's a certain Justice of the Peace in Louisiana who can swap "complimentary" anecdotes with him.

    October 20, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  9. mo nada

    WOW, republicans using racist stereotypes... big surprise...

    October 20, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  10. rita

    Does it always have to be South Carolina? Aren't there politicians in other states that mess up? South Carolina seems to have more than there share of boondoggles. It is so hard to be politically correct when you have gotten away with it for so many years. Believe me, no one jokes more about Jews than Jews. They understand that some generalizations are with merit and can laugh just as hard as you and I. Each community (including gays and African Americans) have things that they don't mind hearing from each other or from a comedian, but cringe when a politician repeats it.

    October 20, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  11. Ben Joshua

    Our people have suffered for longer than I care to think about. Even before the ovens and gas chambers, there was York Castle and Masada. Other groups suffer as well, but through the millenia Jews have suffered disproportionately. Whether hatred or stupidity being the root cause, all ethnicities are easy marks.

    October 20, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  12. SNAPPA

    I don't know why people would be shocked over comments coming from the Republicans, a party of hate is bound to say exactly what they stand for sooner or later. Its the "between" the lines comments that define who they really are, subliminal comments by racists, homophobes, anti-semitic, chauvanists religious extremists. Eventually every bigot slips and you find out exactly what they are made of...

    October 20, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  13. Alex -DC

    It was nothing more than an awkward compliment. People are so incredibly sensitive.

    October 20, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  14. Vgal

    And I see your true colors are shining through... glad to see you apologized GOP only AFTER the jewish org went after you.

    October 20, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  15. A different George W.

    Oh woe is me.
    The Republicans just can't stop shining a big ole' spotlight on just how un-American and non-Representative of the American populace they
    really are. The disconnect with the real world boggles the mind. Frankly, it's embarrassing.

    October 20, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  16. Nathan

    Why does this not surprise me? The Right has a habit of "talking the high road" but not "walking the high road".

    October 20, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  17. cfrench

    The republicans are really defining themselves as the racist white guys, more and more every day. The republicans talk a lot about 2010 and the mid-term elections. Well, if they keep the racism flowing the way it is I think they're going to have big problems making gains in the house and senate.

    October 20, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  18. usualone

    When times are rough, people always blame the Jews. Recently, I have been hearing those types of sayings quite a lot and they are said shockingly by "decent" types of people. I guess it is ingrained into them. ..but it is sickening. I grew up with that type of stereo-type and it was hidden for many years, after the "Six Days War" in the 1970s. Now it is showing its ugly head on a regular basis. People in authority need to address this quickly as possible, and it should not just come from Jewish people. It is always easy to blame others when one is ignorant...and it is dangerous and becomes contagious. I think that is why I'm seeing it more frequently nowadays.

    October 20, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  19. brian in denver

    Is there something in the water out in S Carolina that makes folks stupid?

    October 20, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  20. Terry

    Jim DeMint is not going to denounce any racist or antisemitic comments from Republican members of his "base". DeMint's supporters are made up of right wing fringe elements who are happy to hear public affirmation of their ignorant, offensive beliefs.
    This incident will probably result in like minded nuts all over the country sending lots of money to DeMint's reelection campaign.
    Unfortunately, South Carolina is again in the national news for all the wrong reasons.
    Terry
    South Carolina

    October 20, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  21. Kathy

    He said what he said, let him suffer the consequences.

    October 20, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  22. Patrick

    Before people begin beating their chests and pounding tables; let's take a look at the comment for what it was and not for what it may be percieved as. Yes, it is a statement that may have stated and others have heard in the past. Yes, it is based on stereotypes, which sometimes lead to prejudicial and unflattering portrayals. Yes, it is inappropriate in this day and age to perpetuate such erroneous thinking. Yes, he and the other writer should apologize wholeheartedly. Yes, it is likely that both are rather ignorant individuals and lack awareness of their own ignorance. No, it was not stated in a malicious manner or meant to hurt others. There are real racists, bigots, homophobics, sexists, anti-semites, anti-papists, xenophobics, etc... in our country, this fool is only that – a fool and should not be taken any more seriously than that.

    October 20, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  23. usualone

    When times are rough, people always blame the Jews. Recently, I have been hearing those types of sayings quite a lot and they are said shockingly by "decent" types of people. I guess it is ingrained into them. ..but it is sickening. I grew up with that type of stereo-type and it was hidden for many years, after the "Six Days War" in the 1960s. Now it is showing its ugly head on a regular basis. People in authority need to address this quickly as possible, and it should not just come from Jewish people. It is always easy to blame others when one is ignorant...and it is dangerous and becomes contagious. I think that is why I'm seeing it more frequently nowadays.

    October 20, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  24. DCTWMT

    So often....their true colors show through...from Nancy Reagan's "white faces" remark in the 80's, to the (Kansas?) rep's "white hope" remark a couple of months ago, to Limbaugh, to the Fox Noise Channel, and on and on and on......remember Archie Bunker and his stereotyping? Anyone who thinks racism is dead is blind, stupid, or both.

    October 20, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  25. Linda

    I always taught my children that saying sorry was not enough as their actions would determine if they were truly "sorry". Is anyone else getting tired of these repugs apologizing for their hypocritical actions when they are caught while at the same time continuing with their anti-humanity behaviour?

    Someone please send them to a seminar geared towards getting them to understand how the world really is – the days of fat, white, male southern rule is done. They can either join the 21st century or just keep their mouths shut, move out of the way and let the grownups do what needs to be done.

    October 20, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
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