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August 14, 2006

Virginia Senator Uses Racist Slur To Describe Dark-Skinned Man

-- by Dave Johnson

A video is online of Senator George Allen of Virginia insulting a dark-skinned man, and saying "welcome to America," at an otherwise all-white Republican gathering. He calls the man "Macaca" and then says, "Well friends, we're in a war on terror." See for yourself.

NOTE - Alternate video source at AlterNet

Jeffrey Feldman of Frameshop did some research and found that the term is used on far-right racist sites, and provides examples. Frameshop: 'Macaca' or 'Macaque'. Go read it, but I warn you, it's pretty sick stuff.

So seeing how it is used on the right-wing, racist websites Feldman found, there is no question what Sen. Allen was saying. Also, it seems that Senator Allen has had a problem with this in his background. From GEORGE ALLEN'S RACE PROBLEM,

Campaigning for governor in 1993, he admitted to prominently displaying a Confederate flag in his living room. He said it was part of a flag collection--and had been removed at the start of his gubernatorial bid. When it was learned that he kept a noose hanging on a ficus tree in his law office, he said it was part of a Western memorabilia collection. These explanations may be sincere. But, as a chief executive, he also compiled a controversial record on race. In 1994, he said he would accept an honorary membership at a Richmond social club with a well-known history of discrimination--an invitation that the three previous governors had refused. After an outcry, Allen rejected the offer. He replaced the only black member of the University of Virginia (UVA) Board of Visitors with a white one. He issued a proclamation drafted by the Sons of Confederate Veterans declaring April Confederate History and Heritage Month. The text celebrated Dixie's "four-year struggle for independence and sovereign rights." There was no mention of slavery. After some of the early flaps, a headline in The Washington Post read, "governor seen leading va. back in time."

[. . .] Before there was a Governor Allen, there was a state legislator Allen. Allen became active in Virginia politics in the mid-'70s, when state Republicans were first learning how to assemble a new political coalition by wooing white Democrats with appeals to states' rights and respect for Dixie heritage.

Allen was a quick study. In his first race in 1979--according to Larry Sabato, a UVA professor and college classmate of Allen's--he ran a radio ad decrying a congressional redistricting plan whose main purpose was to elect Virginia's first post-Reconstruction black congressman.

... In 1984, he was one of 27 House members to vote against a state holiday commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported, "Allen said the state shouldn't honor a non-Virginian with his own holiday." He was also bothered by the fact that the proposed holiday would fall on the day set aside in Virginia to honor Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. That same year, he did feel the urge to honor one of Virginia's own. He co-sponsored a resolution expressing "regret and sorrow upon the loss" of William Munford Tuck, a politician who opposed every piece of civil rights legislation while in Congress during the 1950s and 1960s and promised "massive resistance" to the Supreme Court's 1954 decision banning segregation.

One thing ab out the video was his comfort using the term with the all-white Republican gathering, and the assumption they all understood and appreciated hat he was doing.

Update - This pro-Allen blog calls it "good-natured ribbing" and one of the commenters says, "He should have called him Saddam!" Go read the racist sites cited above and think about that.

skippy gets into the good-natured spirit of it all.

Posted by Dave Johnson at August 14, 2006 9:32 PM

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Comments

Yeah, of course he's playing to a racist audience, but at the same time it's a mistake to require the South, especially a state like Virginia, to be ashamed of its Civil War past and the heros of the Civil War. I'm pointing this out because the members of my family live forever and as a kid I knew quite a few doddering old folks who had lived through that war and suffered profoundly because of it and it's aftermath. Believe it or not they were not racists. Their black friends and neighbors regularly came over for Sunday dinner and invited them back. The entire area was still poor as dirt because of the war, and they had to work together and take care of each other to survive at all. So that's what they did. This shaming of the South is causing more racism than it corrects.

Oddly, the motives of the war weren't exactly racist but about things like honor, states rights, and other values we don't exactly hold any longer. It was the plantation owners who owned slaves, not the vast majority of the citizens of these states. And in the south it was everybody's great grandfathers who fought in the war, not the slave owners. Of course I'm not trying to excuse George Allen's blatant racism but that we're creating a fertile atmosphere easily exploited by people like him by thoughtlessly being offended by things like owning a Confederate flag. Like it or not, people have a right to be proud of their past. History is complicated.

Posted by: MJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 15, 2006 6:09 AM

Haven't had a good opportunity to say this in a while:

Fuck the South.

Posted by: richard [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 15, 2006 12:20 PM

Racism in the North is maybe even more deadly than in the South because it's been more subtle. One Indiana city we lived in had NO black faces in it at all. The college had no black students, either. Why? Because there was a law that blacks couldn't be on the streets after sunset! In Ann Arbor, actually an old Underground Railroad city with houses with secret passages where blacks had hidden until they could be smuggled into Canada so that many of the black families had been there for generations, I was puzzled by the fact that in our "mixed" neighborhood the black kids went to an older school and the white kids seemed to all go to a newer, closer school. Turned out that the school districts snaked between our houses!

So -- fuck the "North" too.

Posted by: MJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 16, 2006 5:17 AM

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