"MY FRIENDS, we're going to run this campaign on positive, constructive ideas," Sen. George F. Allen told a rally of Republican supporters in Southwest Virginia last week. "And it's important that we motivate and inspire people for something." Whereupon Mr. Allen turned his attention to a young campaign aide working for his Democratic opponent -- a University of Virginia student from Fairfax County who was apparently the only person of color present -- and proceeded to ridicule him.
Let's consider which positive, constructive or inspirational ideas Mr. Allen had in mind when he chose to mock S.R. Sidarth of Dunn Loring, who was recording the event with a video camera on behalf of James Webb, the Democratic nominee for the Senate seat Mr. Allen holds. The idea that holding up minorities to public scorn in front of an all-white crowd will elicit chortles and guffaws? (It did.) The idea that a candidate for public office can say "Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia!" to an American of Indian descent and really mean nothing offensive by it? (So insisted Mr. Allen's aides.) Or perhaps the idea that bullying your opponents and calling them strange names -- Mr. Allen twice referred to Mr. Sidarth as "Macaca" -- is within the bounds of decency on the campaign trail?
We have no inkling as to what Mr. Allen meant by "Macaca," though we rather doubt his campaign's imaginative explanation that it was somehow an allusion to Mr. Sidarth's hairstyle, a mullet. Mr. Allen said last night that no slur was intended, though he failed to explain what, exactly, he did have in mind.
Macaca is the genus for macaques, a type of monkey found mainly in Asia. (GOI: It many countries the term is a racial slur). Mr. Allen, who as a young man had a fondness for Confederate flags and later staunchly opposed a state holiday in honor of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., has surely learned too much about racial sensitivities in public life to misspeak so offensively.
Mr. Sidarth, who is 20, is a senior at U-Va.; he graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in Fairfax after compiling an excellent academic record. He is thinking of applying to law school. He may be forgiven if his week-long foray on the campaign trail with Mr. Allen has left him with a bitter taste. "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," Mr. Sidarth told us. "I'm disgusted he would use my race in a political context."
We don't blame him for feeling that way. But really, by mocking Mr. Sidarth, Sen. George F. Allen demeaned only himself.
GOI: Try as hard as he might, George Allen can't help himself from sticking his foot in the sticky, honey jar of racist behavior.
His campaign claims that they nicknamed Sidarth (who had been following the Allen campaign around the state) "mohawk" for his hair cut and that perhaps Allen used the term "macaca" mistaking it for "mohawk." However, If Allen doesn't know the difference between a racial slur and a hair style then I am not at all comfortable with him having the power of a Senator or (god forbid) President. I'm sorry but a Senator and potential Presidential candidate should know how to pronounce "mohawk."
Also, according to a report on CNN, Sidarth had introduced himself to Allen a few days before. Allen is known for his ability to remember names so it seems unlikely (and a little too coincidental) that he would unknowingly confuse Sidarth's name with a racial slur.
And what's with the "welcome to America and the real world of Virginia" comment??? Apparently Allen assumes anyone with "dark skin" is an immigrant??? Of course later he claimed that these comments were aimed at his opponent whom he claimed had never been to that area of Virginia. All this even though he said it directly to Sidarth while looking in his direction!!) Of COURSE Allen should have said "I welcome my OPPONENT to America and the real world of Virginia." He try's to play this "aw shucks" character but Allen knows whats going on. And again, if he's dumb enough not to know the importance of directly addressing your intended target then he should be certified by the State of Virginia as "mentally handicapped."
Allen has since apologized but of course he did--he got caught. Perhaps he didn't think anyone would know what "macaca" really meant. It's quite convenient to say such controversial things and then say, "Oh that's not what I meant. It was taken out of context, I apologize if anyone misunderstood my words and was offended," blah, blah, blah. It doesn't work that way. You can't just go around letting your ignorance fly and then just apologize every time you offend someone. How do we know if that apology is sincere? An apology is a must but the way to show true sincerity is to change your behavior and given Allen's previous dances with racist behavior I am not too surprised that he said what he said. And I am afraid that we shall see more of this ignorant bullsh*t again.
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