Lane County Commissioner and Republican Senate Candidate Faye Stewart repeated racist stereotypes about refugees at a March 10 Republican candidate forum at George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon.
He accused Vietnamese refugeees "years ago" of eating dogs and starting fires in their apartment complex in Portland. You can see the video here.
As orginally reported on The Daily Caller, Stewart said, "“And when I say that, you know our government housed them in buildings in the Portland area, my understanding and what ended up happening was is [sic] they didn’t know how to heat their homes. What did they do? They started a fire in the middle of their living room in an apartment complex."
He continued with, “Or when they needed something to eat, they went to their natural ways of doing it by harvesting people’s dogs and cats, their pets because their culture and their lifestyle didn’t mix with ours.”
The video does not show to what question Stewart was responding.
Immigrants from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia came to the U.S. in large numbers in the late 1970s and early '80s. As with the current Syrian refugees the immigrants were often met with racism, rumors and stereotyping, and in particular they were accused of eating local pets.
As Florence Baer writes in her article, "Give Me... Your Huddled Masses: Anti-Vietnamese Refugee Lore and the Image of the Limited Good," accusing outsiders of eating improper food is a common way of showing that immigrants are not "like us" and are taking advantage of the "limited good" available in the U.S. and "stealing" what is rightfully ours.
There are some Asian cultures that do consume dog, however the legend of immigrants stealing American pets is not based on reality.
Faye Stewart and several other candidates are running against incumbent Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden in the 2016 election.
The R-G reports Stewart has apologized for his remarks in response to a question on his "views on how the United States should handle Syrian refugees who are fleeing their war-torn Middle East country."
The daily calls the remarks "heavily edited" and provides the full remarks:
"That’s a difficult deal to address. First of all, I’m compassionate and want to help people. But … we need to understand that we need to help people appropriately and also we need to not jeopardize ourselves and our citizens in the process.
“And history is a pretty good tale of this. We took in some refugees, I believe it was some Vietnamese refugees, into this state years ago, and it created a huge problem because their culture and their lifestyle didn’t mix with ours. And when I say that, you know our government housed them in buildings in the Portland area, my understanding and what ended up happening was is (sic) they didn’t know how to heat their homes. What did they do? They started a fire in the middle of their living room in an apartment complex. Or when they needed something to eat, they went to their natural ways of doing it by harvesting people’s dogs and cats, their pets.
“And so what we need to do is we need to make sure when we do help people we do it appropriately. I question why can’t we go over and help them in their native land and protect them there? Why do we need to bring them here and potentially jeopardize the citizens’ lives here? If we do bring them here then we need to make sure that we do it appropriately so it doesn’t negatively impact.
“We have people today that want to kill us because of who we are. And we need to make sure we don’t jeopardize the citizens in the process. And we have a huge responsibility in trying to figure out what is the right way to help people and protect them in their time of turbulence, and then hopefully get them back to where they can live stably in their country. So I don’t have a perfect plan. I”m compassionate, but what we do need to do is make sure we don’t impact our citizens’ lives and their safety in whatever we do.”