Racist Republican senator?
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George Allen, a Republican senator from Virginia (who consistently ranks high in polls of '08 republican presidential nominees) appears to have used a racial epithet in a recent speech to supporters [Video right].
The speech was being videotaped by a volunteer for Allen's opponent -- 20-year-old Indian-American S.R. Sidarth. The Washington Post writes: "During a campaign speech Friday in Breaks, Virginia, near the Kentucky border, Allen singled out Sidarth and called him a word that sounded like 'Macaca.'"
"This fellow here over here with the yellow shirt, Macaca, or whatever his name is... Lets give a welcome to Macaca, here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia."
The Webb campaign speculates that he may have meant "monkey" or a town in South Africa and others have connected it to the spanish word for excrement but I think it's just good old fashioned "wow, them funny foreign names is danged hard to pronounce"-style racism. A cheap shot by a loser. UPDATE: It looks like I may have given the senator the benefit of the doubt.
The word, "Macaca," refers to a species of monkeys in the Eastern Hemisphere, and is alledged to be a prejudiced term used in Tunisia in reference to blacks and dark-skinned people. Allen's mother is from French Tunisia.
Sidarth, noting that the audience of Republicans was lily-white, speculated: "I think he was doing it because he could and I was the person of color there and it was useful for him in inciting his audience..."
Allen, it turns out, has a spotty history when it comes to, er, cultural sensitivity. According to Brendan Nyhan, he once hung a noose in his Virginia law office, a confederate flag at home, signed a "Confederate Heritage Month" proclamation, denounced the NAACP, opposed MLK Day, opposed the 1991 Civil Rights Act in Congress, opposed changing the offensive state song, defended Trent Lott and praised Strom Thurmond.
Allen has refused to apologize for his macac-omments. You do the math.
Evan Derkacz is a New York-based writer and contributor to AlterNet.