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virginia senate - allen under fire for quip

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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.

Tim Craig and Michael D. Shear report on the flap for the Washington Post:


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.

* * * * *

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.

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Comments (10)

Allen will come out with wh... (Below threshold)
Scrapiron:

Allen will come out with what the word means to him. Remember, he told the guy he was in the real United States and the State (Communistwealth) of Virginia. Going to the Breaks Interstate Park this Sat. and we certainly do talk different in this part of the country and some from foreign lands, NY, Ca and others misunderstand most of what we say and mean.. Of course we speak the original American English and the rest of the country is so foolish they have ruined the original english forever. Yankee english is a sham. Do people not understand how ignorant they look when they seize on a word and make a big deal of it. There is an abundance of ignorant people who are ate up with the PC's in this country. Get over it. LMAO

So, you all sound like Elli... (Below threshold)

So, you all sound like Elliot Sadler, or what?

;-)

Jim, this is traditional "c... (Below threshold)

Jim, this is traditional "come from behind" Democrat politics in Virginia. Far behind? Attack the frontrunner as a racist.

Miller did it when Webb was beating him in the primary. Webb is doing in now.

Yeah, they use the same tac... (Below threshold)

Yeah, they use the same tactic all over.

Hey, I don't think Allen is a racist or anything like that. But when you are running for political office and making public statements, you have to be aware of the PC climate.

Remember the councilman or commissioner in DC who was pilloried for using the word "niggardly," which means "cheap," but was considered "racist?" Same deal. You are dealing with idiots who are just dying for a reason to take offense every day.

An experienced politician has to know that, and watch his mouth - especially when he is joking around.

Allen did it on purpose to ... (Below threshold)
unknown:

Allen did it on purpose to energize his ('down home') base.

They understand his coded references. The media will play this story up and the base will rally to his defense.

Nobody who was going to vote for him will change their mind over this.

Anyone who was not going to vote for him still will not.

The macaca jab was fully in... (Below threshold)
DL:

The macaca jab was fully intentional, he knew what he was doing. He isn't that dumb! Just because a person is of a different nationality, does that mean that they should be singled out? In Buchanan County, VA, probably... but is that right?

The other part that disturbed me was the 2nd part of his statement, "Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia." This is rather humorous, because Georgie boy assumed that this man was not from the US, much less Virginia. However this was far from the truth, since Sidarth was born and raised in Fairfax County, which makes him more Virginian than George himself!

Scrapiron, your post is rather ignorant, since it props up your dialect over "Yankee english" (which is just a different dialect). You sound just like all the out-of-staters who deride me because of my down-home, SW VA accent. Live and let live...

Now back to Georgie... why should we elect him, when we know he will just run off to take a stab at the 2008 Presidential election? He nearly ran our (since of course he is not from VA, rather from CA, and the only reason he ever came to VA was because of Papa Allen coaching the Redskin) state into the ground when he was at the wheel.

Jim,I didn't know ... (Below threshold)
Derrick:

Jim,

I didn't know that NOT calling people a monkey was somehow PC. George Allen isn't some shoot from the hip cowboy who just don't know better. The guy speaks french (insert Kerry joke), lived in wealthy Palos Verdes, CA and his dad was a rich, football coach who traveled extensivelly. Yet the guy has an inclination towards Confederate flags, nooses and calling dark-skinned people a French term for monkey. I think that he's a little more than just being un-PC.

What exactly do you mean by... (Below threshold)

What exactly do you mean by "an inclination?" Has he been displaying the Stars 'n' Bars lately, because the criticism I've read refers to a lapel pin he wore as a senior in high school in California.

The "Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia," if you bother to listen to the tape carefully, is said twice. The first time he is clearly talking to/about Webb, who hasn't even BEEN to most of the state. He just repeated it at the end, and threw in the "macaca" again.

It should also be noted that "macaca" is NOT "the French word for monkey." It is the name of the genus which includes rhesus monkeys. French origin, no doubt, from macaque, but not "the French word for monkey."

It does seem Webb has some trained monkeys working for him, though. Maybe that's what Allen meant?

I guess if i (an african-am... (Below threshold)
bernard:

I guess if i (an african-american),said at an naacp meeting (mainly black audience), "look-we have a fellow who's been following me around with a camera for my opponent"...let's welcome..uh..mr.white trash to the program"...
Then when people would come and ask me what is my problem--i'd just say "hey youre making too much out of it".

Actually Bernard, they woul... (Below threshold)
Pam:

Actually Bernard, they wouldn't ask you! They generally only ask Conservatives. God knows, very few people cared Rev. Lowery called President everything by a child of God at Coretta Scott King's funeral. And what about Julian Bond? No outrage, is generally reserved for Conservatives.




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