Wednesday :: Aug 16, 2006

Senator Allen's Use of Code Words


by Mary

Senator George Allen (R-VI) says that it was just an innocent joke. A little nickname that he made up for the cameraman who was recording his speech.

"I also made up a nickname for the cameraman, which was in no way intended to be racially derogatory. Any insinuations to the contrary are completely false."

Yet, does this sound like the bestowing of a nickname to you?

This fellow here over here with the yellow shirt, Macaca, or whatever his name is. He’s with my opponent.

And it just a bit of fun when Allen assumed that he was not an genuine American and welcomed him to the country.

"Lets give a welcome to Macaca, here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia...."

George Allen, the wannabe President, is actually saying he didn't mean anything by these words.

Well, one thing this new fangled technology does is capture the words and then amplifies them into a forum where lots of other people can discuss them too. (It's no longer just a one way street or preaching to the choir anymore.)

Yesterday, Jeffery Feldman of the Frameshop, did some research to find out what "macaca" could possible mean and he found this. Today, he did some more research and posted about it on dKos and in response got confirmation that this specific slur is definitely known and repeated in racist circles in Virginia. Today's internet in action: here is a first person story about the use of this word:

I did my grad studies at Duke. In one of my classes, there were 3 chinese students, myself (Indian male, foreign student), one Indian girl and one white male. This WM person was from Virginia. His family had a construction business there. That's about what I know about this person. After a midterm test, the instructor gave us our graded answer sheets. When the class was over, we were all talking about the test. This person from Virginia turned to me and said "How did the macaca do?" I was shocked and so was the Indian girl in the class. I let it go. As the course progressed, it was clear that he was not keeping up his grades and the more he seemed to perform poorly, the more aggressive and racist he got towards all of us in the class. He frequently referred to me as "the macaca" and "the monkey". Did I say he was from Virginia?

Now fast forward 2 years. I was travelling in Virginia and West Virginia with other grad students from Duke (mostly Indian, male, foreign students). We were coming out of a convenience store (gas station) near Wheeling. Two white males in a pick-up truck saw us, and started shoouting at us. Initially we couldn't figure what they were saying. Then it was clear that they were insulting us and I heard "macaca" among the slurs thrown at us (with a good measure of "go back to your country").

From my experience, it seems to me that it is quite possible that "macaca" is a racial slur used by some groups (perhaps in VA and WV) against black/brown skinned people.

One other thing. That racist in my class? He dropped out of the course and quit his grad studies and went back to Virginia.

Well, that sure busts Senator George Allen.

Allen's chutzpah in using an obscure but definitely racist slur and believing he could get away with it should show people that all the penance he paid after supporting Trent Lott during his meltdown was a fraud. As Brendan Nyhan put it last year,

Ever since then, Allen has been trying desperately to clean up his record. Last year, he traveled with Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), a civil rights pioneer, to the bridge in Selma where Lewis and other protestors were beaten, and in February of this year he introduced a resolution apologizing for the Senate's role in preventing the passage of anti-lynching legislation.

I certainly believe in redemption, but this strikes me as too little, too late. Allen's pattern of offensive actions and racial insensitivity will make it impossible for him to be a president who represents every American.

It seems to be a classic case of hubris where Senator Allen allowed himself to be captured on video using a racist slur by the guy he wanted to intimidate.

No more second chances, Mr. Allen. You've used up your forgiveness chits.

Mary :: 12:46 PM :: Comments (13) :: TrackBack (0) :: Spotlight :: Digg It!