Politics & Government

Otto rejects demand from NAACP to pull rap, apologize

TOPEKA — The NAACP's Kansas chapter demanded Thursday that a state legislator remove his "RedNeck Rap" from the Internet and publicly apologize for the video criticizing President Obama.

"That will not happen," replied Republican state Rep. Bill Otto.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People labeled the video that Otto posted last month on YouTube as "tasteless" and "racist."

In what he titled "RedNeck Rap," Otto criticizes the nation's first black president while wearing a cap that calls opossum "the other dark meat." At the end, Otto repeats the slogan and says, "A little greasy, but hey."

"It's unacceptable, and we can't sit idle as though everything's all right," said the Rev. Ben Scott, president of Topeka's NAACP branch.

Otto revised the video after a fellow legislator criticized it, adding an introduction in which he says the cap refers to his own "hillbilly" heritage, not Obama. He said Thursday that he was trying to offer "good-natured" criticism of the administration.

Last week, Otto posted a sequel, praising Obama for trying to help older Americans, but without apologizing for the first video. In the sequel, Otto says he shares Martin Luther King Jr.' s dream of a colorblind society and that not everyone who criticizes Obama is a racist.

He said the NAACP is equating criticism of Obama with racism, which he labeled "reverse racist."

"I have nothing to apologize for," Otto said from his home in LeRoy, 75 miles south of Topeka. "I'm not racist. To me, they're insulting some of my heritage and don't want me to be me."

NAACP officials said the new introduction and its sequel aren't enough.

"You're trying to clean it up, but that doesn't change anything," said Renee Wiggins of Topeka, the NAACP's state treasurer. "You still haven't apologized."

NAACP officials noted that Otto sponsored an unsuccessful budget amendment this year to block funding for state advisory commissions on Hispanic and African-American affairs. Otto described the proposal as a response to the state's budget problems but also has said it's wrong for the state to have commissions for some ethnic groups but not others.

Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, earlier this month labeled Otto's video "disturbing." NAACP officials said they're disappointed that public officials haven't spoken out about the "RedNeck Rap."

House Speaker Mike O'Neal, R-Hutchinson, said he has not seen Otto's videos because "I don't generally look at YouTube."

Democratic Gov. Mark Parkinson has seen Otto's first video, spokeswoman Beth Martino said.

"Any kind of divisive rhetoric — particularly anything seen as offensive — is really not helpful to the state," she said, summarizing his reaction.