Newspaper article The Florida Times Union
Rep. Brown Apologizes to Official; Target of "White Men" Remark Meant for Bush Policies, She Says
Byline: RACHEL DAVIS, The Times-Union
U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown apologized Thursday to a top Bush administration official for referring to the Bush administration policies on Haiti as "racist," calling his representatives "a bunch of white men" and telling Assistant Secretary of State Roger Noriega "you all look alike to me" when he said he was Mexican-American.
The Jacksonville Democrat verbally attacked Noriega during a Washington briefing on the Haiti crisis Wednesday. Her comments sent a hush over the hourlong meeting, which was attended by about 30 people, including several members of Congress and Bush administration officials, according to The Associated Press.
Noriega later told Brown: "As a Mexican-American, I deeply resent being called a racist and branded a white man," according to three participants. Brown then told him "you all look alike to me," the participants said.
"I sincerely did not mean to offend Secretary Noriega or anyone in the room. Rather, my comments, as they relate to 'white men,' were aimed at the policies of the Bush administration as they pertain to Haiti, which I do consider to be racist," she said.
"However people read it, it wasn't meant that way," Brown said. The congresswoman received some calls yesterday from constituents, but "we didn't get that many."
Brown said she was personally insulted by the "anti-Haiti sentiment brought to the table" by State Department officials and Republican members of Congress in attendance.
Northeast Florida Hispanic representatives were viewing the comments by Brown more with ambivalence than scorn.
"We're not taking this as Mrs. Brown is necessarily against us," said
Mika Cordero, vice president of the Hispanic Organization of North Florida. "She just took a poetic license. To us, it doesn't hold any charge. …