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"Let's give a welcome to macaca, here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia."
Is that offensive? Well, the campaign for Democrat Jim Webb is taking great offense because incumbent Republican Sen. George Allen, his opponent, pointed out a Webb aide of Indian descent who had been following him from stop to stop at a small-town campaign rally with those words.
Virginia Sen. George Allen (R) apologized Monday for what his opponent's campaign said were demeaning and insensitive comments the senator made to a 20-year-old volunteer of Indian descent.
At a campaign rally in southwest Virginia on Friday, Allen repeatedly called a volunteer for Democrat James Webb "macaca." During the speech in Breaks, near the Kentucky border, Allen began by saying that he was "going to run this campaign on positive, constructive ideas" and then pointed at S.R. Sidarth in the crowd.
"This fellow here, over here with the yellow shirt, macaca, or whatever his name is. He's with my opponent. He's following us around everywhere. And it's just great," Allen said, as his supporters began to laugh. After saying that Webb was raising money in California with a "bunch of Hollywood movie moguls," Allen said, "Let's give a welcome to macaca, here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia." Allen then began talking about the "war on terror."
Depending on how it is spelled, the word macaca could mean either a monkey that inhabits the Eastern Hemisphere or a town in South Africa. In some European cultures, macaca is also considered a racial slur against African immigrants, according to several Web sites that track ethnic slurs.
Read the whole article at the link above.
I knew "macaca" was a monkey. I don't know if Allen used it with the intent of a racial slur, but it could only have been, at best, derisive and disrespectful. If the young man is dark complected and of South Asian heritage, it is hard not to take it as an ethnic or racial slur.
Allen's explanation sounds weak, too. But that's not even the most disturbing thing here.
Dammit, man, you are a politician in the 21st Century. You've been elected to statewide office twice, you're no neophyte. Your opponent has a man with a video camera in the crowd, taping everything. So you choose this moment to single him out for taunting? To get a cheap laugh?
Sorry, Senator. If I lived in Virginia, I would probably hold my nose and vote for you anyway, knowing who your opponent is. But you talk about running for President, and show this sort of judgement?
Take my advice and open a barbeque restaurant chain, instead. Everyone will be happier.
UPDATE 12:33 a.m.: I just noticed WaPo has the video - of course they would - HERE. The remarks don't come off quite as offensively in the actual scene as they sound on paper. It comes off more like offhand stupidity, as opposed to a personal slur.
It's still an inexcusable lapse of judgement, but Allen is clearly mocking Webb, not Sidarth, the videographer - except for the use of the name, "Macaca." It's still a dumb thing to say - he was scoring great points with the fact Webb has never seen most of the state in his life, and was at that moment raising money from a bunch of Hollywood leftists. Why ruin the whole thing by being an idiot?
UPDATE 8:00 p.m.: Larry O'Dell of the Associated Press reports Allen has apologized:
RICHMOND, Va. - Sen. George Allen apologized Tuesday for remarks that offended a man of Indian descent who was tracking the Republican's re-election campaign for Democratic challenger Jim Webb.
S.R. Sidarth said he felt Allen was singling him out because of his race when the senator called him "Macaca" during a GOP rally Friday at Breaks, Va., near the Kentucky border.
"In no way was it meant to demean him, and I'm sorry if he was offended," Allen said in a telephone interview.
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Allen, a former Virginia governor, said Tuesday that he was trying to point out that Sidarth was providing Webb "a travelogue" of places the Democrat would never visit.
Read the rest at the link above. Of course, the Webb campaign isn't satisfied.