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Sen. George Allen and the Macaca Flap

Update: Sen. Allen's campaign manager Dick Wadhams may have sunk the Senator. Macaca isn't a name for Siddarth's haircut since he doesn't have a mohawk, see original post below -- it's a name for a monkey with a mohawk. The Macaca monkey of Indonesia has a mohawk.

Sulawesi Macaques are covered with black hair that mixes with white on their shoulders and arms. Their most distinguishing feature is a short ruff of coarse hair on the top of the head that sticks straight up.

*******
Original Post:

What was Senator George Allen thinking today when at a campaign stop, he taunted a young university student of Indian descent who was filming Allen for rival James Webb's campaign, calling him "Macaca?

"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. We're going to places all over Virginia, and he's having it on film and its great to have you here and you show it to your opponent because he's never been there and probably will never come."

He continued, "Let's give a welcome to Macaca, here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia." Immediately following this exchange, Allen discussed the "war on terror."

A macaca is a rhesus monkey. A search of Google indicates they seem to be used frequently for laboratory experiments.

Here's the video.

As for Siddarth in real life:

S.R. Sidarth, a senior at the University of Virginia, had been trailing Allen with a video camera to document his travels and speeches for the Webb campaign. During a campaign speech Friday in Breaks, Virginia, near the Kentucky border, Allen singled out Sidarth and called him a word that sounded like "Macaca."

Allen campaign manager, Dick Wadhams gave a particularly lame excuse for Allen's comments:

Wadhams said Allen campaign staffers had begun calling Sidarth "mohawk" because of a haircut Wadhams said the Webb staffer has. "Macaca was just a variation of that," Wadhams said.

You see a mohawk haircut here? [Photo via Firedoglake]

Frameshop reports:

Macaca' or 'macaque' is a nasty racial epithet alright. It is often used by American white supremacists to describe black people. In Belgium, it is a racial slur for 'dirty arab.' Could this be George Allen's Mel Gibson moment?

More photos of macacas:

Here's a picture of the macaca nigra, native of Southeastern Asia. It's on the endangered species list. And check out this picture of the macaca nigra from the Buffalo Zoo.

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  • Re: Sen. George Allen and the Macaca Flap (none / 0) (#1)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Aug 14, 2006 at 06:46:07 PM EST
    Gee, you work for someone's opponent, you follow them around filming them, and you get taunted. Wow. What a shock.

    Re: Sen. George Allen and the Macaca Flap (none / 0) (#2)
    by jondee on Mon Aug 14, 2006 at 06:56:43 PM EST
    Gee, you presumably read the lead post and completely miss the point. I wish it was a shock.

    Re: Sen. George Allen and the Macaca Flap (none / 0) (#3)
    by jondee on Mon Aug 14, 2006 at 07:18:26 PM EST
    Never heard "Macaca" as a variation on mohawk.

    Re: Sen. George Allen and the Macaca Flap (none / 0) (#4)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Mon Aug 14, 2006 at 07:23:19 PM EST
    I was initially skeptical that Allen would be aware of any racial connotations of "macaca" or "macaque", but after finding out his mother was a French speaker from Tunisia I'm having trouble accepting coincidence as an explanation, especially when he thinks it's appropriate to "welcome to America" a native-born person of Asian descent.

    Re: Sen. George Allen and the Macaca Flap (none / 0) (#5)
    by Sailor on Mon Aug 14, 2006 at 07:30:58 PM EST
    Gee, you work for someone's opponent, you follow them around filming them, and you get taunted.
    Yeah, and if the cameraman was black and Allen said he was a monkey? ppj, as much as we disagree, read the whole article. Please.

    Re: Sen. George Allen and the Macaca Flap (none / 0) (#6)
    by Lww on Mon Aug 14, 2006 at 08:13:08 PM EST
    This came from Mama Allen. It's a French slur for Blacks. The funniest part of this is Allen's comment on "hollywood moguls." He's probably the biggest AIPAC *** in the Senate.

    Re: Sen. George Allen and the Macaca Flap (none / 0) (#7)
    by killer on Mon Aug 14, 2006 at 08:54:14 PM EST
    Um, PPJ, you should understand that this is now standard practice. Lots of campaigns record their opponents PUBLIC appearances. Most are not called derrogatory names that are a crime to use in Belgium.

    Re: Sen. George Allen and the Macaca Flap (none / 0) (#8)
    by Lww on Mon Aug 14, 2006 at 09:07:20 PM EST
    Killer, thank God we live in this country,(one of the last reasons) where you don't get locked up for speech-crimes. Holocaust denial, racial slurs or a slap against gays will get you deep trouble in some European countries. We're going there, slowly but surely.

    Re: Sen. George Allen and the Macaca Flap (none / 0) (#9)
    by Aaron on Tue Aug 15, 2006 at 01:30:02 AM EST
    I'm not sure I buy this, why would he be calling him a monkey? Allen's Listening Tour

    Re: Sen. George Allen and the Macaca Flap (none / 0) (#10)
    by Johnny on Tue Aug 15, 2006 at 02:32:14 AM EST
    Nice Jim. Yes or no question, a simple "yes" or "no" will suffice. Do you agree with his (Allen) choice of terminology? No pontification necessary.

    Re: Sen. George Allen and the Macaca Flap (none / 0) (#11)
    by roger on Tue Aug 15, 2006 at 03:44:19 AM EST
    Aaron, Thanks for the link to the actual video. Is Allen saying that only Virginia is the "real world"? I've been to asia. It seemed "real" at the time. Or maybe it was those movie moguls?

    Re: Sen. George Allen and the Macaca Flap (none / 0) (#12)
    by jen on Tue Aug 15, 2006 at 04:24:46 AM EST
    I was really confused when I saw the headlines. Where I grew up 'macaca' is a FEMALE monkey. That fellow does not looke like a female at all. Thank you for clearing it up, I thought Sen. Allen was one extremely confused fella. Ernesto is right! I should have read the article.

    Re: Sen. George Allen and the Macaca Flap (none / 0) (#13)
    by Aaron on Tue Aug 15, 2006 at 05:56:17 AM EST
    Sorry, but it doesn't make a lot of sense, here's a politician who knows he's being filmed, and he's going to direct some obscure racial slur at the cameramen, not likely. I'm not willing to smear somebody's name, even a right wing Republican who flew a rebel flag and didn't support the Martin Luther King holiday, without a better understanding of what actually occurred. I'm standing on principle here people. I watched the video several times and I don't really understand what the hell he's really saying. Somehow I suspect what is being construed as the word Macaca has been misinterpreted. He seems to be trying to pronounce this guy's name, which he apparently didn't know. Personally I won't go along with trying to misrepresent someone's remarks for political purposes. That's just not cool. If Allen made a racial epithet he deserves to be condemned. But if this is just a political ploy, it's a poorly conceived one that looks a little too desperate in a race where Allen is well ahead, at least in the Mason-Dixon poll from July. If it is somehow for real, it does have the potential for swinging the race. Now if you can just get Allen to admit to it, perhaps then even black Republicans will have a hard time voting for him. But I wouldn't count on that. I'd like to see him go down in flames, but it has to be done the right way. Otherwise you become what you behold.

    Re: Sen. George Allen and the Macaca Flap (none / 0) (#14)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Aug 15, 2006 at 06:46:18 AM EST
    " 'Macaca' or macaque'' is a nasty racial epithet alright.  It is often used by American white supremacists to describe black people."

    Re: Sen. George Allen and the Macaca Flap (none / 0) (#16)
    by DonS on Tue Aug 15, 2006 at 07:21:35 AM EST
    Oh, please. I live in Virginia. There is no way George Allen did not intend this as a slur, call it racial, ethnic, whatever you want. Allen speaks to his good ole boy base like he doesn't know its the 21st century. He is slime, and its only going to get worse as the election draws near.

    Re: Sen. George Allen and the Macaca Flap (none / 0) (#17)
    by squeaky on Tue Aug 15, 2006 at 07:48:56 AM EST
    Aaron-
    I'm not sure I buy this, why would he be calling him a monkey?
    Siddarth had been around long enough filming for Allen to get to know which racial slur would be the most effective. It wasn't spontaneous or by chance that he chose the slur that he did. As JohnS points out
    " 'Macaca' or macaque'' is a nasty racial epithet alright.  It is often used by American white supremacists to describe black people."
    Were he chinese or russian, I am sure Allen would know how to deliver a made to order racial slur for him too. Yes I know that it is hard to believe, and it is nice that you want to give him the benefit of the doubt, but Allen prides himself on his racism and his base loves it. He gets no free passes, he is scum.

    Re: Sen. George Allen and the Macaca Flap (none / 0) (#18)
    by squeaky on Tue Aug 15, 2006 at 08:09:12 AM EST
    And even if he did not use the racial slur isn't this outrageous enough?:
    The idea that holding up minorities to public scorn in front of an all-white crowd will elicit chortles and guffaws? (It did.) The idea that a candidate for public office can say "Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia!" to an American of Indian descent and really mean nothing offensive by it?
    From Re: Sen. George Allen and the Macaca Flap (none / 0) (#19)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Aug 15, 2006 at 08:50:34 AM EST
    You want shocking? How about a group of people who regularly throw every derogatory statement they can think up at their perceived enemies pretending to be shocked when someone else does something only vaguely similar. When you all stop throwing terms likes fascist, nazi, repugnicans, etc... around on an hourly basis, you'll have a minimal basis on which to mount a complaint about what Allen has done, Until then, you're just exposing your hypocrisy once again.

    Re: Sen. George Allen and the Macaca Flap (none / 0) (#20)
    by squeaky on Tue Aug 15, 2006 at 09:03:09 AM EST
    The idea that holding up minorities to public scorn in front of an all-white crowd will elicit chortles and guffaws? (It did.)
    When you all stop throwing terms likes fascist, nazi, repugnicans, etc... around on an hourly basis, you'll have a minimal basis on which to mount a complaint about what Allen has done
    Great comparison jp, did you make that up yourself, or is it from one of your right wing hate sites? Great to see that you are an Allen supporter, now we know where you are coming from. Are you also a member of KKK or some other organization of avowed racists?

    Re: Sen. George Allen and the Macaca Flap (none / 0) (#21)
    by jondee on Tue Aug 15, 2006 at 09:39:49 AM EST
    Refering to a dark-skinned person of Asian descent as "Macaca" is "only vaguely similar" to saying repugnican (a much more shocking term than comparing a minority to an animal) When your first line of defense stops being yet another adolescent, "they do it too" tantrum, then maybe you'll have the minimal basis for a reasoned responce to the discussion at hand.

    Re: Sen. George Allen and the Macaca Flap (none / 0) (#22)
    by Sailor on Tue Aug 15, 2006 at 09:56:49 AM EST
    When you all stop throwing terms
    Another rethuglican that can't tell the difference betweena senator making a blatantly racist comment to play to his rabid base and an anymous commenter on a political site pointing out the similarities of bushco and nazi policies.

    Re: Sen. George Allen and the Macaca Flap (none / 0) (#23)
    by squeaky on Tue Aug 15, 2006 at 10:20:49 AM EST
    For some background on Allen see GEORGE ALLEN'S RACE PROBLEM. Pin Prick by Ryan Lizza and the followup link

    Re: Sen. George Allen and the Macaca Flap (none / 0) (#24)
    by squeaky on Tue Aug 15, 2006 at 10:30:30 AM EST
    For some background on Allen see GEORGE ALLEN'S RACE PROBLEM. Pin Prick by Ryan Lizza and the followup link

    Re: Sen. George Allen and the Macaca Flap (none / 0) (#25)
    by Bill Arnett on Tue Aug 15, 2006 at 01:17:26 PM EST
    Justpaul- No one here is a United States Senator running for reelection with ambitions to run for president in '08. Hurling racial epithets while in public and with a large crowd present while purportedly being an important person of stature is ALMOST as bad as yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater. When people, especially youngsters, see public authority figures give an "ok" stamp to racism, it becomes easier for them to grow up as racist as those whose conduct was held forth as examples of the proper way to conduct themselves, and THAT is the problem that those like ppj will never understand. It is not ok, it is wrong, it perpetuates and glorifies racism and racists, and it has no place in polite society and political campaigns. If Allen wants to be a guttersnipe, let him be so in private.

    Re: Sen. George Allen and the Macaca Flap (none / 0) (#26)
    by Ernesto Del Mundo on Tue Aug 15, 2006 at 01:22:51 PM EST
    Sad to say, Allen was probably doing this intentionally to solidify his base.

    Re: Sen. George Allen and the Macaca Flap (none / 0) (#27)
    by Aaron on Tue Aug 15, 2006 at 01:54:31 PM EST
    A Little Slow but I Get There Eventually I'm familiar with the terms Macaca and Macaque the primates, but not either of their usages as a racial slur in French, or at least not that I remembered. Nor was Allen to my ears pronouncing the word Macaque (Short-tailed monkey of rocky regions of Asia and Africa), but Macaca (Macaques; rhesus monkeys) that does sound about right, I guess I was confused in that regard. So apparently from what I understand reading this thread and others, this is some kind of code word for white supremacists in the states, and an open slur in a number of places around the world, including some French-speaking areas of the US. So apparently this is a rather incendiary outburst, a slap in the face to some degree, fighting words even, under certain circumstances when directed at S.R. Sidarth. Rolling Stone Wow!, what a trip, literally as well as figuratively. I guess this is the consequence of keeping a camera on someone as much as possible. In this light it would even appear as if Allen cracked under the pressure. He was speaking in front of a friendly crowd, and the constant pressure of the camera on him making him censor his words, finally got to him apparently and he attacked the cameramen. I'm trying to come up with some logical supposition for such an outburst. I think I'm getting it now, right? It's rather surreal really. I'd be interested to know if they had any other exchanges before this. Something which precipitated such an incident, or was it just some uncontrolled outburst, out of the blue. I also noticed that some posters over at Kos mentioned that French is Allen's Mother tongue, that would explain a lot, since people usually revert to their earliest and most intimate vocabulary under such stress.

    Re: Sen. George Allen and the Macaca Flap (none / 0) (#28)
    by DonS on Wed Aug 16, 2006 at 07:20:30 AM EST
    Seems like the fervor to defend Senator throwback has died down here. Wassup with that?

    Re: Sen. George Allen and the Macaca Flap (none / 0) (#29)
    by Che's Lounge on Wed Aug 16, 2006 at 07:59:06 AM EST
    Justpaul, We call 'em as we see 'em. And apparently so does Allen. You cannot discern the moral differnces between attacking someone's ploitical views and questioning their ancestry? That's the very definition of fascism. Congrats.

    Re: Sen. George Allen and the Macaca Flap (none / 0) (#30)
    by swingvote on Wed Aug 16, 2006 at 08:16:17 AM EST
    Che, Looks like the DSCC has it's own problem with offending people. Where's you outrage now? Or do you just not see that one as a problem since it's Chuck the Schmuck running the ad?

    Re: Sen. George Allen and the Macaca Flap (none / 0) (#31)
    by swingvote on Wed Aug 16, 2006 at 08:42:02 AM EST
    Worse yet, most Democratic Senators are on record as being opposed to any serious attempt to stop illegal immigration from Mexico, so this ad they are running is just another example of their own blatant hypocrisy. If what Allen said is wrong, then what the DSCC is saying in this ad is also wrong, but I don't expect TalkLeft or its loyal supporters will be running any items on that issue anytime soon. This site was so much better when it was about crime and injustice. Latley it really has become a liberal version of Free Republic, with all that implies.

    Re: Sen. George Allen and the Macaca Flap (none / 0) (#32)
    by soccerdad on Wed Aug 16, 2006 at 09:07:07 AM EST
    appears to be more evidence in support of my claim that there is little difference between the Dem leadership as in the DLC and Repubs.

    Re: Sen. George Allen and the Macaca Flap (none / 0) (#33)
    by Aaron on Wed Aug 16, 2006 at 11:40:26 AM EST
    I'm Back on the Fence Again. Sorry folks, after examining all the evidence, the video, the linguistics involved, I'm forced to conclude that there is simply not enough evidence to conclude that this was a racially charged comment. While some of Allens comments were definitely objectionable, I'm not convinced that he was specifically using the word in question as a racially charged epithet. It's possible, but doubt still exists in my mind, and while I have reasonable doubt, I will not convict someone of such a charge. That's the way goes in the US system of jurisprudence That is my final judgment, unless other evidence comes to light, I'm sticking to my guns come what may. "If the glove doesn't fit, you must acquit" (Johnnie Cochran).

    Re: Sen. George Allen and the Macaca Flap (none / 0) (#34)
    by Sailor on Wed Aug 16, 2006 at 12:11:27 PM EST
    This site was so much better when it was about crime and injustice. Latley it really has become a liberal version of Free Republic, with all that implies.
    Don't let the door hit ya ...

    Re: Sen. George Allen and the Macaca Flap (none / 0) (#35)
    by Sailor on Wed Aug 16, 2006 at 12:25:33 PM EST
    "Let's give a welcome to Macaca, here," Allen said. "Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia."
    S.R. Sidarth was the only person of color in the room. S.R. Sidarth was born in Fairfax. allen pleads ignorance that the term was racist slang ... so at best he was calling the only brown skinned person in the room a 'monkey.' Nope, nuthin' racist about ole george.

    Re: Sen. George Allen and the Macaca Flap (none / 0) (#36)
    by desertswine on Wed Aug 16, 2006 at 12:39:49 PM EST
    The Barbary Ape or macaque It's not an ape but rather a tail-less monkey. It lives in North Africa (Tunisia), an introduced colony lives in Gibralter. Its fancy name is Macaca sylvanus.

    Re: Sen. George Allen and the Macaca Flap (none / 0) (#37)
    by Ernesto Del Mundo on Wed Aug 16, 2006 at 12:45:15 PM EST
    Racist primates are the funniest animals.

    Re: Sen. George Allen and the Macaca Flap (none / 0) (#38)
    by Sailor on Wed Aug 16, 2006 at 02:30:58 PM EST
    His latest excuse? He was actually calling the kid a '$hithead'
    According to two Republicans who heard the word used, "macaca" was a mash-up of "Mohawk," referring to Sidarth's distinctive hair, and "caca," Spanish slang for excrement, or "$hit."
    Said one Republican close to the campaign: "In other words, he was a $hit-head, an annoyance."


    Re: Sen. George Allen and the Macaca Flap (none / 0) (#39)
    by Aaron on Wed Aug 16, 2006 at 10:53:33 PM EST
    I'm off the fence again. There was no question that the statements were highly objectionable, the only issue under debate that I was concerned with pertain to whether this was a racial epithet or not. Perhaps if George Allen's mother hadn't been a native French-speaking Caucasian who'd lived in North Africa, perhaps you could make the reasonable doubt argument, but since that word "Macaca" is a derivative of a commonly used slang term for Dark skinned people, perhaps if that were not the case I'd still be on the fence. Now I'm ready to join the defeat George Allen campaign. Drag the Confederate battle flag waving, anti-Martin Luther King holiday professing, racist into the mud and dung of the main thoroughfare. Put him in stocks and let the children throw turds at his face. George Allen is unfit to serve, and should be defeated in the coming race.

    Re: Sen. George Allen and the Macaca Flap (none / 0) (#40)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Mon Aug 21, 2006 at 09:56:51 AM EST
    what a bunch of macaca...... George Allen should get out more often and quit listening to his mother. Bad momma bad

    Re: Sen. George Allen and the Macaca Flap (none / 0) (#41)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Aug 23, 2006 at 01:52:28 PM EST
    What a bunch of hypocrites! I am quite sure that over 90% of you judgmental bigots had to search (or read in an article) that "macaca" (or "makaka") refers to a primate. Your feigned repugnance is just drivel and lies fed by your need to be the better. On a side note, does anyone even have proof that he was talking to an "all white" crowd, or is this only assumed because he is a white Republican senator in Virginia? I applaud Aaron for insisting on reason over reaction (at least initially.) I also don't know what the senator was meaning by his "naming" of the cameraman (do we know that poor, innocent Sidarth didn't tell him his name was "Makaka" for the purpose of setting him up), but it would be very out of character for a seasoned politician to knowingly feed ammunition right into the lens of his chief rival.

    Re: Sen. George Allen and the Macaca Flap (none / 0) (#42)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Fri Sep 22, 2006 at 11:40:04 AM EST
    I've lived in the South all my life. Born and grew up in South Georgia, lived 3 1/2 years in Norfolk Virginia, 2 years in Miami Florida, 10 years in Tallahassee, Florida, 20 months in the Pensacola, Florida area, spent extensive time in South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, and even some in LA. I have NEVER heard the term MACACA used to refer to a black person, and I grew up in the 40s, 50s, and 60s in KKK land. I can't read the Senator's mind, so I have no idea what he meant. If he meant it as a racial slur, then he was out of line. The people of Virginia will judge him at the ballot box and anything else is just a lot of hot air.