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August 14, 2006 2:16 PM   Subscribe

"Let's give a welcome to Macaca here."
posted by EarBucket (72 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Why didn't he just call him sand-nigger or something?
posted by Mister_A at 2:24 PM on August 14, 2006


Can someone who's been following this race answer a question for me: does Webb stand a chance?
posted by mr_roboto at 2:26 PM on August 14, 2006


WP article: Wadhams said Allen campaign staffers had begun calling Sidarth "mohawk" because of a haircut Wadhams said the Webb staffer has. "Macaca was just a variation of that," Wadhams said.

Does this look like a mohawk to any of you?
posted by epugachev at 2:27 PM on August 14, 2006


"Wadhams also went on the offensive, accusing Webb of having sent out an anti-Semitic flyer during his primary campaign earlier this year. The flyer, which contained a caricature of Webb's Jewish opponent, drew some criticism at the time. 'He had prior knowledge of it and has never apologized for it,' Wadhams said."

What a setup. These two deserve each other.
posted by IronLizard at 2:28 PM on August 14, 2006


Mohawks. I guess he is shaved a bit on the sides.
posted by epugachev at 2:29 PM on August 14, 2006


The bloggers who first hinted at this story were making like the video was going to be a nuclear explosion in the political world. What a disappointment. Yeah, Allen is an ass. No, I don't think this is going to make a lick of difference in the Senate race.

Bloggers; don't believe your own hype.
posted by Justinian at 2:31 PM on August 14, 2006


It's not hype, it's hope.
posted by rxrfrx at 2:38 PM on August 14, 2006


Wow, another jackass Republican from "Vuh-jen-ya." (shrug) This is news?

(Indian Baltimoron here, so I'm doubly biased, I suppose.)
posted by CommonSense at 2:39 PM on August 14, 2006


Yep, Allen's an ass.

Is he a racist ass as well? I saw the cartoon for the flier in question, and claims of anti-Semitism are indeed grasping at straws. But, this most recent stupidity can't be shrugged off quite so easily, especially in light of the silly-ass excuse Wadhams provided. Continuing to remind voters that Allen's an opportunistic ass should work just fine. The guy's done everything from commission silly-ass cartoons with which to smear his opponents to using state troopers as campaign props without their permission.

Justinian's probably right here - we've become far too quick to escalate the importance of such minor things, when we have far more obvious and crucial issues with which to deal.
posted by FormlessOne at 2:44 PM on August 14, 2006


Yep, "welcome to the real "Vuh-jen-ya."
posted by Unregistered User at 2:55 PM on August 14, 2006


I watched the video and was struck by how similar Allen is to this guy in looks and mannerisms.
posted by DragonBoy at 2:55 PM on August 14, 2006


Who knows whether the comment was made out of sheer stupidity or ignorance, or it just comes out of him because he is a politician Republican?

This is just another occasion of a politician making an ass of themselves without too much effort. Remember when Joe Biden said "In Delaware, the largest growth of population is Indian Americans, moving from India. You cannot go to a 7/11 or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I’m not joking."
posted by ArunK at 2:57 PM on August 14, 2006 [1 favorite]


Actually, there's some circumstantial evidence here that the term is spelled "macaque" (as in the same name as the monkey), even though it's pronounced macaca. The term macaque also appears on a list of racial slurs, although it is most commonly used by Europeans against dark-skinned Arabs, not against Africans or African-Americans. Since the man Allen dubbed "macaca" was South Asian, who tend to be more of a bugaboo for European racists than for American racists, I'm a little dubious that this is all coincidence, especially given the lame mohawk excuse. If the racial slur seems like some antiquated throwback from Ye Olde Phrasebook of Racist Epithets, it's important to note that George Allen's mother is a Frenchwoman born in Tunisia where "macaca' was evidently used as an epithet. Given the New Republic's article on Allen's fetish for the Confederate flag, I wouldn't dismiss this as a harmless slip of the tongue.
posted by jonp72 at 3:07 PM on August 14, 2006 [2 favorites]


Um, wouldn't being a racist help you to win Virginia?
posted by jewzilla at 3:10 PM on August 14, 2006


First, Lance Bass is gay, and now you're telling me that there's a racist southern politician?

Next you'll tell me that Saturday Night Live isn't funny anymore!
posted by illovich at 3:13 PM on August 14, 2006


Um, wouldn't being a racist help you to win Virginia?

Yes. Also, being an effete snob is handy in the Northeast. West Coast yr looking more for a burnt out hippy. Midwest, uh, just try to be fat and dull.
posted by hackly_fracture at 3:20 PM on August 14, 2006


Illovich: "Next you'll tell me that Saturday Night Live isn't funny anymore!"

Heh. Cute.
posted by ZachsMind at 3:26 PM on August 14, 2006


After I faked my death, but before I was killed, I told that guy to cut it out with the racist crap and just go with the just as effective but easier to dodge 'tar-baby.' Moron. Ken Starr should never have introduced me to him. On the plus side he did pay off the right editors over at the times dispatch to smear Webb anonymously. New media (a youtube clip?) = not so hot. Old media = gets the votes.
posted by the ghost of Ken Lay at 3:38 PM on August 14, 2006


I think it was an anti-Irish slur. He clearly says "McCaca."
posted by staggernation at 3:44 PM on August 14, 2006


Here is a link to the "Jewish caricature" in interests of balance. And I agree with the above, it's the comment that he really was referring to the Mohawk haircut that makes Allen's campaign look worse.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 4:21 PM on August 14, 2006


does Webb stand a chance?

He's got my vote, but, being a lifelong Virginian, I'm used to voting for losers.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 4:33 PM on August 14, 2006


Makes them look worse to left-leaning bloggers? Or makes them look worse to the people who "matter" -- those Virginia voters who are likely to cast a vote on November 7?
posted by blucevalo at 4:36 PM on August 14, 2006


Marie Antoinette was a Jewess?
posted by owhydididoit at 4:44 PM on August 14, 2006


It *did* kinda look like the guy. Maybe he just has an anti-semitic face?
posted by bashos_frog at 5:02 PM on August 14, 2006


Well, I'm divided on this really. On the one hand I absolutely can't stand this "gotcha" politics of nonsese. A single slipup shouldn't really be that big of a deal. Plus following someone around with a video camera is somewhat lame as well, really. When Jerry Ryan had someone follow Barak Obama around with a camera liberals were upset about it, and rightly so.

Was the phrase actually racist? Well it sounds bad to me, and it sounds nothing like his name. But it is possible that Allen just didn't know any better.

I hope Webb wins, but it ought to be on the issues, not on lame crap like this.
posted by delmoi at 5:11 PM on August 14, 2006


This is just another occasion of a politician making an ass of themselves without too much effort. Remember when Joe Biden said

I do. Hillary clinton also made a dumbass joke about Ghandi working in a Gas Station. Hillary and Biden's jokes were both worse then this outburst.
posted by delmoi at 5:15 PM on August 14, 2006


Hillary and Biden's jokes were both worse then this outburst.

Why do you say that? Is it their celebrity, the context in which they spoke?

I think the fact that he was singling this guy out and making slurs in a public setting is pretty damning. From the video, it almost seems like Mr. Allen is spooked by the guy.
posted by owhydididoit at 5:35 PM on August 14, 2006


Heh, according to this it can be an ethnic slur for north Africans, but so many words can be considered slurs. These days.

I think the fact that he was singling this guy out and making slurs in a public setting is pretty damning.

Hmm, that's a good point. The main difference though is plausible deniability. You can't really say for sure it was meant as an ethnic slur, and not just a dumbass mistake.
posted by delmoi at 5:38 PM on August 14, 2006


George Allen's mother is a Frenchwoman born in Tunisia where "macaca' was evidently used as an epithet.

Wait, so you're saying he's French? Wait til they get ahold of that one.

Seriously though, stuff like that often does get passed down generation to generation. In any case, I thought the guy himself had the most cogent respons-- he was annoyed that the man clearly used the one non-white in the room to demonize his opponent.
posted by cell divide at 5:41 PM on August 14, 2006


You can't really say for sure it was meant as an ethnic slur, and not just a dumbass mistake.

macaque is used as racist web sites, and it is slang from his mother's language. Are you suggesing that he use the excuse "I hang around with people who often use that word but I really have no idea what it means"?
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 5:46 PM on August 14, 2006


I'm not up to speed on racial and ethnic slurs, so could somebody explain how "Macaca" qualifies, as used by the candidate in this context?
posted by notyou at 5:48 PM on August 14, 2006


hmm, perhaps. but if he didn't know the guy's name, he certainly seems to have made an unfortunate guess...
posted by owhydididoit at 5:49 PM on August 14, 2006


It's true that "macaque" is used in Tunisia as a racial slur, and it's possible that Allen used it in that sense consciously. I think it's more likely that he was groping around for a Generic Brown Person name and settled on "Macaca," either because it sounded to him like something a non-white foreigner would be called, or (possibly) he subconsciously made the connection to a slur from his mother's culture.

I have a co-worker who always picks out a random stereotypical name when he's talking about someone who's not white, because he can't be bothered to remember their name. "You hear about the President of Mexico, what's his name, Raul Hernandez?" I think that's what was going on here. Allen's staffers should be grateful he didn't call the guy Oonga Boonga.

My point, I suppose, is that I think Allen was being unconsciously, not overtly racist. That doesn't make it okay. In fact, the kind of prejudice that doesn't recognize itself is a lot more insidious than the kind that wears a white sheet and burns crosses in people's yards.
posted by EarBucket at 6:11 PM on August 14, 2006


This guy is one of the frontrunners for 08--from an imbecile to a racist -- heckuva job, GOP.
posted by amberglow at 6:14 PM on August 14, 2006


Would you rather have a smart (?) racist or a colorblind imbecile?
posted by jewzilla at 6:20 PM on August 14, 2006


What a dick. Welcome to America and the real world indeed - South Asians aren't real Americans after all and we all have so much to learn from Virginia. Keep on truckin' GOP and good luck with expanding your demographic!
posted by rks404 at 6:25 PM on August 14, 2006


I guess he is shaved a bit on the sides.

That's probably because Virginia barbers (especially the cheap ones a UVA student would use) probably charge less for giving a military-style "high and tight" haircut. Not surprisingly, the chickenhawk George Allen failed to recognize such a common military haircut.
posted by jonp72 at 6:28 PM on August 14, 2006


Plus following someone around with a video camera is somewhat lame as well, really.

Every single political campaign that rises above the level of a city council election has volunteers that do this. It's completely normal, and I'd bet money that Allen pays a guy to do the same thing to Webb.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 6:38 PM on August 14, 2006


macaque is used as racist web sites, and it is slang from his mother's language. Are you suggesting that he use the excuse "I hang around with people who often use that word but I really have no idea what it means"?

Well, the fact that his mother is from an area where that term is used divisively makes me change my mind a bit.

Also, I hadn't watched the entire video, at the end there is a "let's welcome him to America.", even though the guy was born in the US and in Virginia. I absolutely can't stand it when people assume I'm a foreigner. So fuck this guy.
posted by delmoi at 6:39 PM on August 14, 2006


It's completely normal, and I'd bet money that Allen pays a guy to do the same thing to Webb.

This is sadly, absolutely true. The only reason the guy shadowing Obama became a story at all was because he was actively heckling Obama instead of just taping. Also, because Ryan's campaign was imploding at the time.
posted by boaz at 6:43 PM on August 14, 2006


Macaca is the genus of certain monkeys, including the Macaque and the Rhesus monkey. Mr. Allen was calling the Webb staffer a monkey--pure and simple. The video of the event shows that Allen, with self-congratulatory mirth, was deliberately denigrating a dark complected man in a thinly veiled way.

And this clown is considered a bona fide candidate for the office of President of the United States?
posted by rdone at 6:54 PM on August 14, 2006


my really bad song about George Allen, just my 2 cents.

http://www.archive.org/download/ScottStadumMusicCommentaryonSenGAllen/Dirty_Racist.mp3
posted by brokekid at 7:32 PM on August 14, 2006


How racist!
posted by mowglisambo at 7:42 PM on August 14, 2006


I think the Allen people will just play off Allen being folksy and an odd coincidence. Macaca? Really who other than some internet nerds ever heard of that being a slur. Any linkage to the mother will be spun as a desperate attack by the Webb folks to attack George's mama. After all Webb is a yellow bellied coward who wants to cut and run from Iraq and now he's beating up on George's poor mother.
If you are an ambitious Republican seeking the 08 nomination, maybe you help this story along a bit. After all Allen is a big money senator from a large southern state. He's already under fire for owning stock in the company that makes the morning afterpill. So maybe the story gets some legs from the rest of the 08 pack. It might get to the Trent Lott scale of firestorm, but Senator Lott is still a Senator last time I checked.
posted by humanfont at 8:08 PM on August 14, 2006


Oh come on.

In some European cultures, macaca is also considered a racial slur against African immigrants, according to several Web sites that track ethnic slurs.

Except Virginia is not a European culture, hasn't been for a few hundred years now.

Do any of you really think that this redneck politician knows what a genus is? You think he was engrossed in his copy of Integrated Principles of Zoology and went "EUREKA!"?

Talk about grasping at straws.

Of course it was obviously supposed to demean and insult him. Like a standup comic putting down a heckler. Yes it was rude and mean spirited, but was it racist?

It would be like me calling people "dumbass" and then after me calling an african american "dumbass" being told that "dum'asse" actually means "slow dumb lazy person of dark color" in Tagalog or something.

Yeah, that's what I meant. Dumbass. Of course it was an insult. But that's all, just your garden variety insult.

I would bet a round of Guinness at the local pub that virtually noone commenting in this thread, especially the Americans, had ever heard of "macaca" as a racial slur before this story.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:44 PM on August 14, 2006


Yeah, that's what I meant. Dumbass. Of course it was an insult. But that's all, just your garden variety insult.


You think he calls white folks macaca? You're right, I've never heard it used as an insult at all. It sounds...foreign.
posted by owhydididoit at 8:52 PM on August 14, 2006


Ynoxas, that analogy would be appropriate if "dumbass" were not an English word but a combination of sounds you couldn't explain and if your mother spoke Tagalog. I find it difficult to believe this is just a coincidence.
posted by Axaxaxas Mlö at 8:56 PM on August 14, 2006


Ynoxas

So if my parents are from South Africa, I can use the word "kaffir" in the US with impunity? I mean it is just a garden variety insult.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 9:00 PM on August 14, 2006


Axaxaxas: (nice name) I see your point, but I just find it very hard to believe that people are actually accusing this guy of using a scientific name for monkeys as an insult. It doesn't hold water.

Much more likely to believe he heard the term used somewhere and leeched it, perhaps with the wrong context even.

For example, a friend of mine used to use the term "moolies" all the time. He had only heard Italians use it, so he figured it was an insult from one Italian to another. His typical usage would be something like "the moolies down at the pizza parlor". He had no idea until much later it was traditionally directed towards blacks. So yes he was being insulting, and yes he was being racist, but not at all the way he thought he was.

Monkey: Considering this is America, and considering I had to Google it to find out what it meant, my vote is say whatever you like.

However, if you run for public office, I would suggest avoiding ALL slurs of any kind, and any origin, as it is quite likely keyboards will be flying.

I've never heard macaca or kaffir. Perhaps I'm just not up on my racist slurs. And we have such ambitious ones here in the South.
posted by Ynoxas at 9:29 PM on August 14, 2006


They're not accusing him of using a scientific name for monkeys -- they're accusing him of using a word that's actually used as a racist insult by speakers of various languages, including French, which his mother speaks. When I first heard the story it sounded like a stretch to me too, but then I found out that the term is commonly used (not in the US, of course) and that his mother was a francophone Tunisian, and now writing it off as a coincidence seems more like a stretch.
posted by Axaxaxas Mlö at 9:36 PM on August 14, 2006


I don't think there's as much malicious forethought in this as some people speculate, but it's an equally vile sort of commonplace racism. It seems like the equivalent of calling him "Hadji" or if he were black, saying, "Let's all welcome Jamal or Tyrone or whatever his name is."

He used his "hey man, loosen up and stop being so PC" totally blue collar race humor for a cheap in with a white southern crowd that probably also "wasn't racist," but sure do hate it that them 7-11 folks always talk their jibbity jabber. And what's up with that dot?

Not to mention that the excuse is completely insane.

"He has a mohawk or at least he used to at some point in time, so other staffers called him "Mohawk" (clever kids), and the Senator was not familiar with this term in any way shape or form whatsoever so he called him "Macaca" which is really a very, very similar word."
posted by StopMakingSense at 9:53 PM on August 14, 2006


no way was this a "slipup" from a guy who adopted the Confederate flag while he was growing up far, far away from the ol' South.
posted by paul_smatatoes at 10:00 PM on August 14, 2006


It would be like me calling people "dumbass" and then after me calling an african american "dumbass" being told that "dum'asse" actually means "slow dumb lazy person of dark color" in Tagalog or something.

It would be more like calling the guy "Deshondre" or "Tyrondell" or some other obvious steriotypical black name. Or imagine if you called a random black person "Umjawbwa" or "Moggogbo" or something like that. You think they'd get offended?
posted by delmoi at 11:27 PM on August 14, 2006


"Let's give a welcome to macaca [Sidarth], here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia."

Errrr: S.R. Sidarth was born in Fairfax Virginia, has spent his life in VA, and attends UVA.

George Allen grew up in Palos Verdes Los Angles where he fetishised Confederate flags, cowboy boots, and cowboy hats (neither of the last two are Virginian). Neither his father (born in Michigan) nor mother (born in Tunisia) have any connection with Virginia. Yet he was determined to go to UVA and reside in Virginia.

It looks like Sidarth is more credentialed to welcome Allen to Virginia than vice-versa.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 12:17 AM on August 15, 2006


George Allen did have educational relations with that language, French...

"A little known fact about Senator Allen is that his undergraduate education was enhanced substantially by his excellent performance in French class, taught by none other than Dr. Raymond Cormier, visiting professor of French at Longwood, and my husband! I have up here on the podium the gradebook, and he got a very good grade. No wonder the senator can applaud his superior education."

link (via DailyKos)
posted by pruner at 12:29 AM on August 15, 2006


You're all reading way too much into this. Here's what happened; somebody in the Allen campaign made a smartass remark that "the guy with the mohawk is full of caca. We all know that good, christian, God-fearing republicans don't use the term "full of shit," and that is how "mohawk" and "caca" became condensed down to "mocaca." Despicable, at any rate.
posted by wsg at 1:20 AM on August 15, 2006


no way was this a "slipup" from a guy who adopted the Confederate flag while he was growing up far, far away from the ol' South.

That's what gets me. Allen went out of his way to embrace redneck southern racism when he was living in California during the late 1960s! He could have been trying to score weed and chasing hippie chicks in miniskirts like most guys in his generation, instead of chewing "terbaccy" and waving the Stars and Bars. Something tells me that he really believes in this racist crap, and it's not just for showing off to the local yokels in rural Virginia.
posted by jonp72 at 7:18 AM on August 15, 2006


Vuh-jen-ya

That is how New Englanders would pronounce it. What you wanted to do was mock Southerners I believe, in which case "Vir-gin-ia" would be more appropriate.
posted by poppo at 9:38 AM on August 15, 2006


George Allen's America -- "Whom it includes, and whom it doesn't."
posted by ericb at 10:21 AM on August 15, 2006


The Weekly Standard's Bigot Eruption
posted by homunculus at 1:12 PM on August 15, 2006


Josh Marshall sums things up pretty well, I think.
posted by EarBucket at 3:19 PM on August 15, 2006


Digby sums it up better, and reminds us all of Atwater, the Southern Strategy and GOP racism for decades and decades--...George Felix Allen is the most disgusting serious candidate for president this country has produced in many decades. The fact that he's backed by a large number of powerful mainstream Republicans for the nomination shows what that party really is, even now, after all this time.
...

posted by amberglow at 6:25 PM on August 15, 2006


Daily Show's covering it now--not that well, but this was good: "in Virginia, we're still not sure if it helps or hurts the guy"
posted by amberglow at 8:05 PM on August 15, 2006


Allen begins damage control.
posted by EarBucket at 11:27 AM on August 16, 2006


When I first saw the footage yesterday, I was most insulted by the fact he was welcoming someone to America, someone who is an American, aparently just because the person didn't have lily white skin, because aren't all "native" Americans white? At least according to him, it seems. When I heard him say "macaca", I didn't immediately hook to it being an actual slur, but I did wonder why he was calling him a monkey, and then I thought that was pretty crappy too. Finding out it's an actual slur in parts of France and that his mom is French, well ... he might not have meant it the way it sounded, meaning he might not have fully realized that you don't walk around calling people that, but it still doesn't look good for a politician to be throwing around words without knowing how they will be interpreted.

And the mohawk excuse? Stupid and weak. I see guys with haircuts like Sidarth's every day, and most of them are in the military. In other words, it's not a mohawk.
posted by Orb at 12:31 PM on August 16, 2006


I would bet a round of Guinness at the local pub that virtually noone commenting in this thread, especially the Americans, had ever heard of "macaca" as a racial slur before this story.

posted by Ynoxas



Heh...I'd take that bet!

Lekin, skunt fii Tunis aAm w nuss, w andi barsha asHaab baida. ;)
posted by darkstar at 10:37 PM on August 16, 2006


Allen's people are saying it was a mashup of Mohawk and "caca", meaning shithead -- they're digging themselves deeper -- it's actually funny.
posted by amberglow at 10:42 PM on August 16, 2006


Honestly, as much as I think "macaca" is racist hook, line, and sinker, I am willing to give the guy the "Welcome to America" comments — yeah, a stupid move and insensitive, but it makes sense in the context of his "real America" theme.
posted by rafter at 11:18 PM on August 16, 2006


(Of course, the theme itself is laughable given that Allen's Virginian credentials are as manufactured as Bush's Southern ones, but still.)
posted by rafter at 11:21 PM on August 16, 2006


President Bush will raise money next week for Sen. George Allen, R-Va., who has spent much of this week apologizing for a racially insensitive comment caught on camera by his opponent’s campaign. ...
posted by amberglow at 3:26 PM on August 19, 2006


...prospective Presidential candidate George Felix Allen had to run a poll instead of just apologizing for calling a constituent a monkey. They polled on whether people thought “macaca” was racist; they did. And they polled on whether the non-apology apology made the problem go away; it didn’t. And only then did Allen suck it up, call the guy, and make a real apology ...
posted by amberglow at 4:37 PM on August 24, 2006


George Allen and his friends--the CCC--Only a decade ago, as governor of Virginia, Allen personally initiated an association with the Council of Conservative Citizens, the successor organization to the segregationist White Citizens Council and among the largest white supremacist groups.
...After speaking with CCC founder and former White Citizens Council organizer Gordon Lee Baum and two of his cohorts, Allen suggested that they pose for a photograph with then-National Rifle Association spokesman and actor Charlton Heston. The photo appeared in the Summer 1996 issue of the CCC's newsletter, the Citizens Informer.
According to Baum, Allen had not naively stumbled into a chance meeting with unfamiliar people. He knew exactly who and what the CCC was about and, from Baum's point of view, was engaged in a straightforward political transaction. "It helped us as much as it helped him," Baum told me. "We got our bona fides." And so did Allen. ...

posted by amberglow at 4:18 PM on August 29, 2006


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