American Indians were blindsided by a quip on a recent episode of the CBS sitcom Mike & Molly. At one point in the show, Rondi Reed, the actress who plays Ruth, mother of Mike (Billy Gardell) and mother-in-law to Molly (Melissa McCarthy), said "Arizona? Why would I go to Arizona? It's nothing but a furnace full of drunk Indians."
Many Natives in Arizona, which is home to 21 federally recognized tribes, are failing to see the humor.
"It’s offensive, it’s derogatory, it’s deplorable," Erny Zah, communications director for the President and Vice President of the Navajo Nation, told ABCNews.com. "Ignorance is one thing, but this must have passed through a lot of eyes before it appeared on a network show."
Zah told an Associated Press reporter that it's "easy to make fun of" people who struggle with alcoholism, but "the disease itself isn’t funny, the coming home late at night, possibly beating on family members, the absence of family members, the fear it instills in a lot of children."
The Native American Journalists' Association (NAJA) said in a statement at NAJA.com that "This comment shows blatant disregard for the original inhabitants of this land and perpetuates antiquated stereotypes of Native Americans."
Both Zah and NAJA said that an apology is in order — "but it can't fix the damage done," Zah added.
"To me, it’s not funny making fun of a minority group," NAJA President Rhonda LeValdo told the AP. "Are we supposed to be the entertainment for mainstream?"
Both the Associated Press and ABCNews.com solicited comment from CBS, but were declined.