Our boy Senator George Allen (R-VA) got in a little trouble a while back for displaying a noose in his office and a Confederate flag at home. Well, this time, he was caught on tape referring to S.R. Sidarth, a young man of Indian descent, as "Macaca." He clearly said the word twice, so at least nobody has tried to claim he was misunderstood. Well, nobody but Allen.
His exact words were:
"This fellow here, over here with the yellow shirt, Macaca, or whatever his name is. He's with my opponent. He's following us around everywhere. And it's just great... Let's give a welcome to Macaca, here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia."Allen's first answer, when asked about his use of the word "macaca," was the basic defensive response: "I don't know what it means." Then he tried to claim that it was a reference to the man's hair, as in "Mohawk" - oddly enough, a cut that is only barely related to the mullet sported by our cameraman, in that they both involve hair.
Now, blogger Jeffrey Feldman did a little research, and discovered that the word was used by white supremacists to refer to black men (mostly when "nigger" seems redundant, apparently). His links are a little hard to follow: in the face of the controversy, Stormfront seems to have scrubbed their pages, and I somehow didn't feel like logging in to Vanguard News Network.
Mr Feldman also wasn't as careful as he could have been: he was referring to one post in a thread, but gave the link for the mother post it was responding to.
But the word is out there, and it doesn't mean "I respect you and don't object to your skin tone."
Since Mr. Sidarth was born and raised in Fairfax County, Virginia, it seems a little unreasonable of Allen to have welcomed him to either America or Virginia. Perhaps having realized that, Allen met with a number of Indian-American leaders to apologize for being an ass. They weren't impressed. "We expect better from our leaders... We're working toward getting satisfied; it is a work in progress."
Racism seems to be rearing its ugly head everywhere lately. The President dismisses every Muslim in the world as an "islamofascist," and Michelle Malkin, the Queen Bee of pop-culture bigotry, chimes in with a theory that all Muslims are the same and the race war is on.
Where does it lead? Well, in Maryland, we get bigots standing outside the home of Saqib Ali, a candidate for the Maryland House of Delegates, wearing a T-shirt reading "this mind is an Allah-free zone" and holding up a hand-lettered "Islam sucks" sign. That's always a good way to spend your day, right?
In the UK, two Muslim men were forced off of a flight for “acting suspiciously” and “speaking Arabic.” That's all they did. They talked quietly to each other, possibly in Arabic (the news stories haven't established what language they were speaking), and they didn't proceed directly to their seat. So they were obviously terrorists, right?
A British man named Azar Iqbal, travelling to Disneyland with his wife and three children, was detained at the Atlanta airport, questioned about whether he knew anything about a terror plot, told that "we didn't ask you to come to America," and denied entry into the United States. Because, after all, nobody of Middle Eastern descent would take their children to "the Happiest Place on Earth," would they? Everybody knows that Arabs don't love their children. Even if they're British citizens.
Here's the way it works. If it's OK to discriminate against one type of people based on their race or religion, then suddenly, it can become easier to discriminate against another race. So, what are we going to see next?
How about major movie stars getting in touch with their inner anti-Semite? (OK, let's get real, folks. Alcohol lowers inhibitions, it doesn't create new thought patterns. A drunk might blurt out things already in his mind, but he isn't likely to spontaneously create a new, original line of thought.)
How about Republican Congressional candidate's talking about how "blacks aren't the best swimmers or may not even know how to swim," or White House press secretaries using the term "tar baby" in a press conference?
Or you can do a Google news search on "Klan," and discover that they seem to be resurfacing, with rallies in Texas and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. And showing up at a Harper's Ferry discussion of race relations. And even trying to gain a little press by adopting a Missouri highway. (You can even buy Klan and Nazi memorabilia at county fairs in Pennsylvania these days. Go figure.)
Keep an eye on this kind of thing. I think we'll be seeing more of it in the near future.
But one more thing about our friend George Felix Allen. Sidarth had introduced himself to Allen earlier in the week. Now, Allen had heard Sidarth's name and felt that it was appropriate to make fun of it, this could show that he doesn't respect people and their cultures. Or perhaps he just likes to give people of other races nonsense names (I wonder if he likes to call all Asians "Ching Chong" or all Middle Easterners "Abdul") - that's one of the marks of a racist.
Either way, it isn't something I'd want coming out of my Senator's mouth. Maybe it's a good thing I don't live in Virginia.