Sen. George Allen’s Racial Slur: Macaca? Makaka? Macaque? or Mohawk? August 16, 2006Posted by C.A.R.D in Allen, Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination, George, Indian, Macaque, Monkey, Racial, Racism, Racist, Slur, South Africa.
This story is quite amazing in the fact of how much media attention it has garnered. Regular readers of this site know that politicians and public officials make racist and offensive statements regularly. However, this particular one is being featured on all the major news reports. Where as, most stories are ignored completely by the mainstream news. There seem to be two interesting facts surrounding this story: first, after watching many of the news reports of this story, it is very clear that Shekar Ramanuja Sidarth is letting his hair grow back where it was shaved; as in the first reports and interviews with him show his hair at least on the sides as much shorter. We are unsure if this is to make it seem less plausible that George Allen was referring to his ‘mohawk’ hairstyle or for other reasons. The second interesting part of the story is the story that the media is not reporting; that being the anti-Semitic fliers that Jim Webb himself put out earlier (Link). One thing is certain with both candidates in this campaign: it’s politics as usual.
Update: We have received many emails in regard to this article and there is an alternate explanation to what macaca/makaka/macaque was intended to mean. This alternate explanation is explained in the following news clip:
But then on Aug. 11, Sen. George Allen, R-Va., by stringing some syllables together, made up the name, “macaca.” A name that is very similar to the name the Allen family calls his niece, Maka. (Allen is known for his penchant of nicknaming friends, family and staff. His head of fund-raising is referred to as “Java,” due to her incredible energy level. His wife, Susan, he calls “chicory,” because her eyes are the same color as the chicory flower. His Listening Tour driver is called “king of the road,” and the list goes on.)
In what seemed an attempt at humor, and not knowing the name of the cameraman that Webb had sent to film Allen’s every move and utterance, Allen called the man, “macaca.”
This ignited a firestorm of media speculation. The Washington Post and other media outlets found this word in another language, on another continent. According to ABC’s “Nightline” one Tunisian history expert said it was a derogatory term used hundreds of years ago. Regardless, a word that had no meaning on this continent was defined as racist and pinned on Allen.
The cameraman, S.R. Sidarth, claimed to be offended. Allen apologized, and Allen’s detractors had the opening they needed to drive the media into a feeding frenzy by playing the race card.
It had already been reported that Allen wore a Confederate flag lapel pin as a kid in high school, and later displayed the flag in his office and home. That story didn’t have legs, as these were old claims and Allen’s record of promoting a level playing field for all people regardless of race, ethnicity or religion was well documented. But macaca put fresh blood in the water and the media sharks circled, hungry for the killer story.
The featured stories follows below:
A volunteer of Indian descent working for Democrat Jim Webb’s U.S. Senate campaign said Monday he felt insulted when Sen. George Allen called him a name that sounded like “Macaca” during a rally in western Virginia.S.R. Sidarth, 20, spent last week following Allen’s “listening tour” and filming the appearances for the Webb campaign, which distributed a video clip of Friday’s appearance to reporters.
“This fellow over here with the yellow shirt — Macaca or whatever his name is — he’s with my opponent,” Allen said. “He’s following us around everywhere.”
Macaca is a term associated with a species of monkeys.
“This is not something we knew,” said Allen campaign spokesman Dick Wadhams.
The name also could be spelled Makaka, which is a city in South Africa.
Wadhams said, however, that the name was a variation of “Mohawk,” the nickname he said Allen campaign staffers gave Sidarth because he had a Mohawk haircut.
Whether the University of Virginia senior’s haircut — closely cropped around the temples and above the ears, but otherwise full — qualifies as a Mohawk is open to interpretation. Sidarth said he does not consider it a Mohawk.
“It’s grasping — it’s reaching,” Webb spokeswoman Kristian Denny Todd said of Wadhams’ explanation. “This was a term meant to demean Sidarth and his presence there at the event.”
Asked what he thought Allen meant by using the word Macaca, Sidarth said: “I took it to mean that was the first thing that came to his mind when he saw a person of color. It does have connotations in Hispanic cultures of being associated with a monkey.”
Sidarth, who said he had introduced himself to the senator earlier in the week, said he felt Allen “was singling me out as a person of color when the rest of the audience was Caucasian.” Wadhams said Sidarth was not the only nonwhite person at the rally in Breaks, Virginia, which is near the Kentucky border.
The video clip shows Allen telling the crowd: “Let’s give a welcome to Macaca here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia.”
Sidarth was born and raised in Fairfax County.
Wadhams said Allen called attention to Sidarth simply to welcome him to “a place in Virginia Webb has never been to and probably never will be to.”
University of Virginia political analyst Larry Sabato said Allen’s remarks could damage Allen’s efforts to position himself for a possible run for president in 2008.
“This is a comment that will be regurgitated a thousand times,” Sabato said. “It was a clumsy, stupid gaffe, and it’s this kind of thing that destroys presidential candidacies.”
The words could be especially damaging when considered in the context of Allen’s history of displaying the Confederate flag, Sabato said. Allen used to keep the flag in his living room, and he wore a Confederate lapel pin for his high school yearbook photo.
“People may read into this more than is actually there, but whose fault is that?” Sabato said.
Wadhams, meanwhile, questioned why Webb still has not apologized for what he said was an anti-Semitic flyer during the Democrat’s primary campaign. The flyer featured a hook-nosed caricature of Webb’s Jewish opponent with money overflowing his pockets.
“If they are so sensitive about stuff, how come they used something as despicable as an anti-Semitic flyer?” Wadhams said.
Denny Todd said Wadhams was rehashing a two-month-old story to try to divert attention from Allen’s remarks.