Pennsylvania state Sen. Scott Wagner, a wealthy Republican and a Trump supporter who is running for governor of the commonwealth, has had some run-ins this year with political trackers. Trackers are campaign hires responsible for videotaping opposing candidates, with the goal of recording politically useful gaffes. In May, Wagner was captured on tape assaulting a tracker like a violent thug. Three months later, in the following exchange with a tracker about billionaire George Soros, Wagner came off as an anti-Semite:
You know what’s amazing that a guy who came from Hungary — a Hungarian Jew — who made a fortune. Think where he came from, and he has an opinion of America that he does is just amazing to me.
Tracker: Because of his ethnicity?
Wagner: No, because of his hatred for America.
Wagner then immediately tried to justify his statement in the most pathetic, tried-and-untrue way, literally saying, “I have a lot of friends that are Jewish friends.” He continued by adding that family members of one of his friends had been in “a Jewish concentration camp.”
While Wagner refers to Soros — who has been an American citizen for 55 years — as “a Hungarian Jew,” an article on Philly.com rhetorically asks, “How often does Wagner, a millionaire who runs a trucking and waste-hauling company, get called a York County German American?”
When asked by the Philly.com reporter why he participated in such exchanges with trackers, the senator offered up this defense: “I’m trying to bring a little humor into it.”
However, as the video makes clear, there isn’t the slightest hint of mirth in Wagner’s delivery. Even if there were, it would be beside the point because supposed “jokes” can be extremely hateful — we’ve all unfortunately heard racist jokes. The only proper response here is an apology from Wagner, but of course, none has been forthcoming. Instead, Wagner has simply denied that his statements were racist.
This article was adapted from a piece in the Daily Kos.