A state legislator from South Dakota who shared a joke about President Barack Obama being a terrorist said she wasn’t sorry for circulating the item, but she felt badly that “people don’t have a sense of humor.” South Dakota state Rep. Betty Olson also denied being racist, saying the man who sent her the joke “is married to a black lady.”
The joke, which appeared in a Sept. 10 column Olson writes for the Butte County Post, a weekly South Dakota newspaper, also suggested that 7-Eleven workers, cab drivers, Motel 6 managers and tech-support employees were connected to terrorist organizations like ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood. Here is the joke Olson shared, according to Talking Points Memo, which first reported on the controversy Monday:
“This morning ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood warned the United States that if the United States continued meddling in Iraq, Libya, and other potential hot spots in the Middle East, they intend to cut off America's supply of 7-11 and Motel 6 managers. If this action does not yield sufficient results, cab drivers will be next, followed by Dell, AT&T and AOL customer service reps. Finally, if all else fails, they have threatened not to send us any more presidents either. It's gonna get ugly, people.”
Olson, 68, defended sharing the joke to the Rapid City Journal on Wednesday. She said she was surprised at the backlash she received on Facebook.
“They saw no humor in my joke,” she said. “My local folks did. I re-posted it on my Facebook page and so far everybody on there has liked it. I do feel bad that so many people don’t have a sense of humor.”
Olson denied that she was racist. “I wasn’t trying to achieve anything. I was just trying to end with a joke like I normally do. Apparently some people didn’t find it funny. As far as being racist, the guy who sent it to me is married to a black lady, so I don’t think racism had anything to do with it,” she told the paper.
The 68-year-old Republican state lawmaker is up for re-election. She said she didn’t think the controversy would be a factor in her race.
“I doubt it will have any effect at all, because the folks around here aren’t terribly worried about ISIS and the Muslim terrorists,” Olson said. “That has nothing to do with western South Dakota.”