Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Macaca, mezzuzot and munchies.

Now, darlins, I know all y'all don't have the macabre fascination with American politics that I do, so I'm going to take some time out of my busy day to draw your attention to what is rapidly becoming the most entertaining show south of the border (even more entertaining than Kinky Friedman's run at becoming Governor of Texas, which is looking less and less every day like an entertaining train wreck and more and more like a kind of sad bus crash).

Republican George Allen, a self-styled Good Ol' Boy and incumbent Virginia Senator, was expected to be a shoo-in for re-election when he first hove into national and then international view for making some odd statements to a young man. S.R. Sidarth, Virginia born-and-bred but of Indian descent, had been sent by Democrat Jack Webb's camp to follow him about and videotape his speeches - a not-uncommon tactic among campaign strategizers, who analyze these things like coaches poring over tape of last week's game. And so the games began:
  • August 11, 2006: At a campaign rally, Allen makes the following bizarre remarks in reference to, and to, Webb campaign worker Sidarth: "This fellow over here with the yellow shirt - Macaca or whatever his name is - he's with my opponent...Let's give a welcome to Macaca here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia."

  • August 13, 2006: Video of Allen making the comments are posted to YouTube where they begin generating immediate buzz among bloggers; the story is picked up by the mainstream media. Allen can't explain why he referred to Sidarth as "Macaca", saying that it is just a nickname he - or someone on the campaign gave the guy following them around. His campaign workers spin that it may have something to do with Sidarth's "mohawk haircut". (Here is a photo of Sidarth around the time.) Allen denies there's any racial context to it, nor racial significance to his comments about "welcom[ing]" Macaca "to America".

  • August 14, 2006: It's pointed out that "Macaca" is a derogatory term for Arabs in Tunisian French. Allen's mother is a francophone Tunisian.

  • August 14, 2006: Allen apologizes in the press for calling Sidarth "Macaca". He neglects to actually apologize to Sidarth.

  • August 23, 2006: Nine days later, Allen remembers to apologize to Sidarth.

  • August 25, 2006: Intrigued by mention of Allen's mother and her Tunisian background related to the controversey, Jewish publication Forward magazine does a little investigation and publishes an article musing on Allen's probably-Jewish roots. (Allen has repeatedly mentioned on the campaign trail that his father was "incarcerated by the Nazis" during World War II "for being an Allied sympathizer". This wording seems a bit odd in retrospect as the elder Allen's roots are revealed - as Wonkette notes, "Grampa Lumbroso was almost certainly an 'Allied sympathizer', as the Allies were the ones who didn’t want to gas him".)

  • September 17, 2006: During a televised debate, reporter Peggy Fox gets Allen annoyed when she asks him if he'd ever heard the term "macaca" from his mother, but he absolutely blows a cork when she asks him whether he has Jewish forebears. Stuffing his foot even further into his mouth, he reacts as if he's been slapped and refers to the question as "casting aspersions" on him.

  • September 18, 2006: Jews around North America say some variation on, what the fark?"

  • September 19, 2006: Allen releases a statement stating that his mother was raised Christian and he was raised Christian. But he assures everyone he embraces his Jewish ancestry - which he says he found out about from the Freedom article and which his mother confirmed.

  • September 20, 2006: In an interview, Allen refuses to back down from his assertion that the reporter's question was offensive because "the question, the assertion, the offensive remarks that your mother taught you this slur, and that somehow it's because she has -- either she or her father was -- was Jewish." (She did not. She asked if he knew the term because his mother was French Tunisian. The Jewish question was her follow-up, and unrelated to the "macaca" question.)

  • September 20, 2006: Speaking to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, in his ongoing efforts to show that he has the greatest respect for the Jewish people, Allen announces that "I still had a ham sandwich for lunch. And my mother made great pork chops".
You cannot make this stuff up. And there's still six weeks of campaigning to go.




Blogger Carl said...

Wow, and this guy is a US Senator.

I'm humiliated on behalf of my whole country.

Thanks, Ronnie.

12:34 a.m.  

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