Power and Politics - I am Not the Yellow Peril

The life and times of an Asian American activist who tells all the truth (and dishes news and analysis) but with a leftwards slant.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

George Allen's racist past comes back to haunt him

Sorry to be all over George Allen like white on rice, but I just find the issue so fascinating. Plus Allen's campaign just doesn't seem to know how to do spin control -- the latest half-assed apology/explanation coming out of the Allen camp is that "macaca" doesn't mean monkey, dirty Arab, or the n-word. No, instead, it means "shithead" according to reports from the National Journal's Hotline blog:

Three Virginia Republicans confirmed to the Hotline that several Allen campaign aides and advisers are telling allies that the word was a made-up, off-the-cuff neologism that these aides occasionally used to refer to tracker S.R. Sidarth well before last Saturday's videotaped encounter.

According to two Republicans who heard the word used, "macaca" was a mash-up of "Mohawk," referring to Sidarth's distinctive hair, and "caca," Spanish slang for excrement, or "shit."

Said one Republican close to the campaign: "In other words, he was a shit-head, an annoyance." Allen, according to Republicans, heard members of his traveling entourage and Virginia Republicans use the phrase and picked it up.
I'm really not sure how calling someone a shithead is better than a racial epithet, but given how well this incident feeds into the "George Allen is a racist" narrative (which is true because of his history,) I'm sure the Allen campaign is willing to settle for using four-letter words, instead of pissing off the 30% minorities in the state. Also, Ryan Lizza over at The New Republic actually did two articles on George Allen's troubled relations with race, including his love of displaying the Confederate flag all over the place, through his teenage years through 2000. He concludes that there's a debate about what Allen's history means for the '08 run, that while some are disgusted by Allen's views, others champion him all the more:

But there's a second view. It is best expressed to me by Stevens, now a consultant to John McCain. He argues strenuously that I should not write a piece about Allen and the Confederate flag. He says it would be unfair to Allen. But, when I explain Allen's record on the issue, he makes another argument that has nothing to do with fairness, and I figure out why he is so forceful. "Well, you also realize you're getting him votes for the primary, right?" Stevens says, alluding to key states in the South. He raises his voice to a shout: "You're getting him votes! Big time!"
What I find funny about McCain's staffer's outburst is that McCain is also prone to slinging racial slurs, most famously during the 2000 Republican primary when he referred to his prison guards during Vietnam as "gooks." Then again, as Rob Corddry said, "Here in Virginia, it's not clear whether this helps or hurts the guy." Playing to a racist base, now that's the quality that will get Allen the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.

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