Virginia Senator George Allen called out a rival's campaign worker, who was filming Allen's speech, to a collection of prospective donors and local GOP personalities. The filming is common practice, nothing out of the ordinary. The filmer, however, happened to be an American-born young man of Indian descent.
In his speech Allen ad libbed a few mocking references to the filmer much to the delight of the assembled crowd. While not a particularly couth political move, and certainly a grossly impolite one, the ad lib was nothing too shocking in and of itself. The hitch was, however, in what Allen said. He twice referred to the young, dark-skinned staffer as a "Macacca," a derogatory term for Algerians and North Africans in general used mainly by the French--though the term's apparently thrown around in racist circles here in the states form time to time.
Allen first claimed that he was referring to the young man's "mohawk" haircut, despite the fact that he wasn't wearing his hair as such. The Allen camp then claimed he simply didn't know what the word that came out of his mouth was. He later offered an odd non-apology, explaining that he simply "made up a nickname for the cameraman." The trouble is, Allen's mother is an anglo French-Algerian. Allen himself has spent time in the region and is a fluent French speaker. There's little doubt that he'd come across the slur on plenty of occasions in his lifetime.
Watch the video of the speech on You Tube.
Read a bit more on the controversy in this WaPo article.
Senator Allen's lame excuses and non-apology aside, a very telling moment comes amid the slurs. Notice the crowd reaction. Despite Allen confessing he didn't know what the word meant and that he simply made it up, they all seem to know exactly what he meant by it. Is it a staple of Virginian white male name-calling or are they just caught up in the politics of the moment? Who knows. Neither option is particularly flattering.
The following commentary is text I originally posted this afternoon on a blog stite that discussed the scandal:
The bottom line is that the guy stood in front of a group of 99% like-minded people and called the one non-white guy in the room a monkey. Nearly the whole place ate it up.
It bears repeating: a GOP senator called a non-white person a monkey. In order to demean the kid and make himself look better, bigger in the eyes of his constituency... whatever.
As a dumb teenager, I spent an uncomfortable amount of time around white power skinhead types. This is their stock in trade. A friend at the time enjoyed telephoning the local KKK recorded message line. It was usually wacky, silly tripe that made us roll with laughter. But, again, the non-white as monkey derision was common verbiage.
Allen's use of the phrase reveals everything we need to know about his soul. He's as hate-filled and bigoted as any dim-witted neo-nazi skinhead or south-will-rise-again Klan member.
Those with any activist inclinations need to keep this story alive to expose this scumbag for what he is and, with any luck, to out those of similar political stripes. They'd also be well advised not pass up any chance to tie this whole issue to the GOP in general. Make THEM answer for it as well. A tactic similar to how the gaffes of progressives are strung around the neck of every Democrat in the nation.
And finally, don't miss this WaPo article on "maverick" senator John McCain's swift attempt to come to put a stop to the political hemorrhaging.