Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Much Ado About "Macaca"

When it comes to politicians, people often wonder what, if anything, goes through their heads before they open their mouths. May I introduce Senator George Allen.

Yesterday, Allen apologized for remarks that offended a man of Indian descent who was tracking the Senator's re-election campaign for Democratic challenger Jim Webb. S.R. Sidarth is a 20-year old, born in Fairfax VA, and it doesn't look like Allen's apology is going to be enough to quell his anger.

"If he wants to make an apology to me, he can talk to me personally rather than doing this through the press," Sidarth said.

As Allen was addressing a GOP rally near the Kentucky border on Friday, he said, referring to Sidarth, "This fellow over here with the yellow shirt - macaca or whatever his name is - he's with my opponent. He's following us around everywhere. Let's give a welcome to macaca here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia."

For a man who has been accused of racial insensitivity in the past (keeping a noose in his law office, a picture of confederate troops in his governor's office, a confederate flag in his living room, and wearing a confederate flag pin in his high school yearbook photo) you would think Allen would be smart enough to have the "verbal filter" always on high.

Many people probably have never even heard of the word "macaca" before, and even more may not know it's use as a racial slur, usually directed at African immigrants in some European countries. That makes it even more disturbing that Allen would use the word. Did he just make it up on the spot? Was it really a play on the word "mohawk" which now he and some of his staffers say was the nickname that they supposedly gave to Sidarth? C'mon, please.

It's doubtful that this gaffe will really hurt Allen's bid to get re-elected. Webb would need a miracle to beat Allen in November, and this a miracle does not make. But if the election is closer than expected, Allen's use of the word "macaca" in a country that grows more diverse by the day may certainly hamper his bid for President in 2008.

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