The Georgia state representative who was duped into pulling down his pants and shouting racial slurs on “Who Is America?” has issued a statement defending his actions, saying that Sacha Baron Cohen exploited fears over his family’s safety.
Jason Spencer, a four-term Republican, said Cohen “took advantage of my paralyzing fear that my family would be attacked” in a statement to the Washington Post on Monday.
In 2016, Spencer stirred controversy by attempting to add an amendment to an anti-mask law targeting Ku Klux Klan members to also target veils worn by Muslim women. In the statement, he said “death threats” made against his family in the intervening years made him susceptible to Cohen’s prank.
“As uncomfortable as I was to participate, I agreed to, understanding that these ‘techniques’ were meant to help me and others fend off what I believed was an inevitable attack,” he said.
In the scene from Sunday’s episode, Cohen, disguised as an ex-Israeli intelligence agent, told Spencer that he could protect himself from people wearing hijabs by pretending to be a Chinese tourist and using a selfie stick to take what is generally referred to as “upskirt” photos. Following his instructions, Spencer recited an incoherent string of Asian words, few of which were actually Chinese.
In another bit, Cohen tricked Spencer into repeatedly shouting the N-word in a fake exercise on attracting attention to thwart a kidnapping attempt by ISIS. At one point, Spencer also pulls down his pants when Cohen tells him the threat of a male buttock could stop ISIS agents through fear of becoming “homosexual.”
“I deeply regret the language I used at his request as well as my participation in the ‘class’ in general. If I had not been so distracted by my fears, I never would have agreed to participate in the first place,” Spencer said Monday.
However, despite being denounced by a number of prominent Georgia politicians, including Gov. Nathan Deal, Spencer who is also a Republican, refused to resign.
“I apologize to my family, friends, and the people of my district for this ridiculously ugly episode. Finally, there are calls for me to resign. I recently lost my primary election, so I will not eligible to hold office next term. Therefore, I will finish the remaining five months at my post and vacate my seat,” he said.