U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., is drawing fire for recent comments he made to a downstate newspaper, in which he referenced driving “faster through” the black community.
Asked to expand on Kirk’s remarks, his Senate office on Monday referenced violence in Chicago and defended Kirk’s “commitment” to African-Americans.
“Anyone watching network news in Chicago is aware of the frequent killings and violence that affects various communities in Illinois,” spokeswoman Eleni Demertzis said. “Senator Kirk is active in fighting gang violence, keeping assault weapons off the streets, and working within the African-American community to find aspiring entrepreneurs. No one can question Senator Kirk’s commitment to the African-American community.”
In a wide-ranging interview with the Peoria Journal Star last week, Kirk talked about a number of issues, ranging from foreign affairs, “common-sense spending” and his health.
However, his comments about wanting to “make Illinois cool again” raised some eyebrows.
“I’m very focused on fostering an African-American entrepreneurial class using my position as senator,” Kirk said.
During the course of his answer, he then introduced a common racial stereotype into the conversation.
I want to make sure we have elected people constantly looking at helping the African-American community. With this state and all of its resources, we could sponsor a whole new class of potential innovators like George Washington Carver and eventually have a class of African-American billionaires. That would really adjust income differentials and make the diversity and outcome of the state much better so that the black community is not the one we drive faster through.
The NAACP said Kirk’s word choice was “poor.”
“I think what he was trying to say is, he was trying to relate that to crime,” George Mitchell, president of the NAACP’s Illinois State Conference, told Huffington Post. “But boy, it was a poor choice of phraseology.”
It’s not the first time Kirk has made some attention-grabbing comments.
In February, he threatened to pile coffins outside Democratic offices if the Department of Homeland Security shut down.
In March, he said it was time to “end the attaching of bull—- to essential items of the government” and later equated the Democrats’ refusal to go along with the new stipulations with defending slavery.
h/t: Huffington Post