Come on, people. What are a few racial slurs among friends? Can’t a white state senator from Virginia have a little fun at the expense of some “colored folks” any more?
Thankfully, no. Especially when it’s caught on tape.
Sen. George Allen, a Virginia Republican best known in LGBT circles for being against the Federal Marriage Amendment before he was for it and being for LGBT-inclusive hate crimes protections before he was against it, learned the hard way last month at a campaign rally in Virginia when he taunted S.R. Sidarth, a young man of Indian descent.
“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. “Let’s give a welcome to macaca, here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia.”
For those of you who don’t know, “macaca” is a racial slur. It means monkey. Classy. Also, for the record, Sidarth was born and raised in Virginia.
According to The Washington Post, Allen apologized, but not before his “campaign manager dismissed the issue with an expletive and insisted the senator has ‘nothing to apologize for.'”
Allen said, “I would never want to demean [Sidarth] as an individual. I do apologize if he’s offended by that. That was no way the point.” He then said he didn’t even know what “macaca” meant.
Watching the video, it’s hard to buy Allen’s claim that demeaning Sidarth wasn’t “the point,” especially considering the yucks the slur elicited from the all-white crowd of supporters.
That Allen, who by the way scored a pitiful 13 on the Human Rights Campaign’s 2004 Congressional Scorecard, would say such a thing at all shows an enormous lack of racial sensitivity. That he would say it directly to a man holding a video camera and then later claim he didn’t know what it meant shows an enormous lack of brains.
Did I mention that Allen is a 2008 presidential contender? And you thought Bush was an easy target for Kanye West.
It’s not as if this is Allen’s first brush with racism. According to The Washington Post, “Before he ran for governor in 1993, Allen was criticized for keeping a Confederate flag in a cabin near his Charlottesville home, part of a collection of flags, he has said. He stirred controversy as governor by issuing a proclamation noting the South’s celebration of Confederate History Month without mentioning slavery. This year, the New Republic magazine published a photo of Allen wearing a Confederate flag on his lapel during high school.”
Of course, Allen’s fellow Republicans are doing their best to distance themselves from him.
According to the Post, House Majority Leader H. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem, said “macaca” probably went right over the heads of the white rally goers. “Not many people in southwest Virginia would think it is derogatory,” Griffith said. “I didn’t have a clue what it meant, and I doubt Allen did, either.”
It seems that the GOP’s political strategy can best be summed up by paraphrasing G.I. Joe: “Ignorance is half the battle.” The other half? Fear, whether it is of homos or “macacas.”