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August 16, 2006

On The Etymology of Macaca

Here's Mike Scherer:

George Allen may well have been the only one at the rally whose family background would have introduced him to the word "macaca."

Though he doesn't like to use it, the senator's full name is George F. Allen. He gets the middle initial from his grandfather, Felix Lumbrosso, a French-Italian who was incarcerated by the Nazis during World War II. Felix raised Allen's mother, Etty, in Tunisia, a French protectorate in North Africa. As a child, Allen's grandparents lived near the family home, and Etty spoke five languages around the house. Allen makes no secret of his heritage on the campaign trail. "I have my grandfather's bloodlines," he said at a recent swing through a suburb of Richmond. "My grandfather is French-Italian. I have about one-sixteenth Spanish in me."

In North Africa, the word "macaca," often spelled "macaco" or "macaque," is far more than a string of random syllables. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word dates back to the mid-1600s, as a Flemish approximation of the Bantu word for monkey in the Congo and southern Gabon. The word migrated north, taking on all the racist connotations that followed African colonization. By the early 1800s, Jacko Maccacco, a famous fighting monkey, could be found on display in Westminster Pit, a notorious London arena for dog fights. The word had entered the common vernacular, and it eventually became a racist shorthand for blacks.

Today, the word is used mainly by two groups of people: scientists studying African and Asian primates, and bullies looking to insult others for the color of their skin. An online dictionary of ethnic slurs lists "macaque" as a French and Belgian word for black North Africans. In the Oxford Spanish Dictionary, "macaco" and "macaca" carry the colloquial meaning of "little devil," "Chinaman" and "ugly person." Anthropologists who study Brazilian street slang have noted that the police will call the local kids "macaco," or monkey, in reference to their African heritage.

Read the whole thing.

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Allen's racism is so well incorporated into his (very strange) life that he uses racial slur words without thought - the verbal fodder of everyday living.

With some intelligence present (woefully absent in his case), a public figure can mentally screen from public use of words of household usage. Not Allen. He's a perfect example of a fully integrated racial-minority-hating personality.

Perhaps he's the principle (and perhaps only remaining) example of the 'southern gentleman' (read racial biggot) as a US Senator. Although Trent Lott may be of the same mindset, Lott is smart enough usually not to get caught saying in public what he believes in private - his his comment 'that the United States would have avoided "all these problems" if then-segregationist Strom Thurmond had been elected president in 1948', being the exception that demonstrates the rule.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Aug 16, 2006 12:59:21 PM

What bothers me is that I saw Chris Matthews last night smiling at this like it was nothing- a smiling goofy grin saying that its all just politics. Is everything just politics? Are we going to politics our way into an even crazier guy in the WH? I suppose my friend is right- it makes for a better news story.

Posted by: akaison | Aug 16, 2006 1:02:20 PM

Exactly right. In Portuguese-speaking households, macaco is frequently used as an epithet to describe mischievous or misbehaving children. While it not usually considered a great insult in that context, using it on an adult is much more serious. George Felix Allen took it one step further when he used it to disparage a dark-skinned man. Then it becomes exactly the sort of grievous insult that it is in English to call a black man a "monkey". It reeks of racism. George Felix Allen is a racist, condemned by the words that flowed so easily and casually from his mouth. No other explanation makes as much sense, however desperately Sen. Allen and his campaign make seek to spin his moment of revelatory candor.

Posted by: Zeno | Aug 16, 2006 1:07:10 PM

What bothers me is that I saw Chris Matthews last night smiling at this like it was nothing...

I think the only ones that think it's something are Senator Allen's political enemies and they would like to throw some gasoline on any fire they can find.

Just the simple fact that Ezra and everyone else must meticulously explain this obscure word that can be used in a number of ways (see Zeno's post above) says it all. If Allen intended to make racial slurs, there are much, much clearer and well-known slurs available.

Posted by: Fred Jones | Aug 16, 2006 1:19:40 PM

Digby has another great post up about how this is, surprise surprise, another code word catering to the racist base.

Posted by: Elayne Riggs | Aug 16, 2006 1:36:18 PM

The offensive remarks made by Senator George Allen have all the makings of a Dick Wadhams campaign. Wadhams cut his political teeth in Colorado and has been seen as the person behind the rise of Senator Wayne Allard, a Colorado veterinarian. Wadhams went on to orchestrate the campaign against Tom Daschle in South Dakota and is now leading Allen's reelection effort.

Dick Wadhams is a man many have called Karl Rove's protégé. During Wadhams work in Colorado for Senator Wayne Allard's 2002 reelection, he gave one of the most acerbic victory speeches I have ever witnessed. While gloating at the defeat of Ted Strickland, his comments were vile and hateful. The man is Karl Rove absent a scintilla of decorum and decency...if you can imagine that! It appears that George Allen believes that two bullies are better than one.

Read full article here:


Posted by: Daniel DiRito | Aug 16, 2006 1:55:29 PM

fred your logic again is quite interesting for a racist. so because he choose a word that he knew in his mother's tongue was racists to use it against the class of people it is intended to be used against doesn't sway your racism? It's all us crazy libruls. Maybe he choose the word precisely because he new dimwits such as yourself wouldn't know it. That he could count on ignorance or the low information voter or the low information press to not understand his insult. maybe what makes him an idiot is not that he was trying to sway is base with the word (he did that with welcome to America) but he thought he could use the word, and no one would figure it out. And - as Chris Matthews demosntrates- that's not suc a far fetched idea. I find the whole lieberman someone hacked my site reporting last week instructive of just how lazy (for their own benefit) the press are of discussing issues. Not one of the reports actually had a technical person quoted saying whether the political operatives were right. Instead, it was he said-he said allegation. this sort of reporting works well for sensationalism (which is what the press is really about) but does nothing for accuracy. Matthews even admitted that he likes Allen (like thats got anything to do with the issue of did his friend use a racist word or not) Did he do any research- does he have any researchers? these are all questions left unanswered in your racist need to find a way to spin this.

Posted by: akaison | Aug 16, 2006 2:04:07 PM

There you go, straight from Fred. "If he didn't say nigger, it ain't racist!"

Posted by: verplanck colvin | Aug 16, 2006 2:09:42 PM

Some Senators were members of the KKK. Senator Allen was never a member of the KKK. The KKK is a lot worse.

Minorities die younger here in America so Social Security and Medicare discriminate against minority popullation groups which Democrats applaud. Many Black males pay Social Security and Medicare tax their whole lives then die before they collect one penny like Richard Pryor.

Senator Allen wants all Americans to have the option to own their own Social Security so when they die all funds would go to their wifes and children. That's leadership.

Senator Allen thinks all Americans deserve the option to pay their Social Security tax to their own tax free PSA to exscape the ugly discrimination in Social Security for those who die younger.

It was amazing that AARP propaganda was gobbled up by all the young Democrats. They buy anything as long as its propaganda.

I guess AARP wants to discriminate against all minority population groups, its sad.

Social Security is a Ponzi Scheme that discriminates against those who need it most. Mohawk is not that bad.

Posted by: Ron Greiner | Aug 16, 2006 2:51:56 PM

Social Security is a Ponzi Scheme that discriminates against those who need it most. Mohawk is not that bad.

Fred, I apologize. Ron deserves mockery wayyy more than you.

Posted by: Cyrus | Aug 16, 2006 3:12:58 PM

Every moment is an opportunity to sell HSA's! I love that guy!

What I think is hilarious is that Allen doesn't even list health care or SS on his website:

I'm sure you could find statements on his position, but he clearly doesn't see fit to include it as a top priority.

Posted by: Adrock | Aug 16, 2006 4:18:46 PM

Ron is correct.

If those that are complaining about Allen truly cared about racism and weren't just interested in the political aspect, they would, indeed, have shuffled out Robert "The Kleagle" Byrd long, long ago.

Posted by: Fred Jones | Aug 16, 2006 4:23:29 PM


Yeah, Ron's little rant doesn't even much relate to the issue.

Fred, of course, is probably like the guy who once said that liberals miss the point of why "Born in the U.S.A." is a great song because we pay attention to the lyrics. See, because Fred and Americans like him are too lazy or dumb to do research into etymology, that must mean, de facto, that Allen could not have a racist intention.

Posted by: Magenta | Aug 16, 2006 4:38:53 PM

When did Byrd call someone non-white-skinned "macaca"? I must have missed that one.

Hey, you all hear the new line? Allen really said "macaca", and it actually meant "shithead". So much better! I'm getting dizzy with all this spin.

Posted by: verplanck colvin | Aug 16, 2006 4:39:40 PM

Fred, of course, is probably like the guy who once said that liberals miss the point of why "Born in the U.S.A." is a great song because we pay attention to the lyrics.

That's hilarious. Did someone really say that? I mean, not just act that way, but really come out and say such a thing?

Posted by: Constantine | Aug 16, 2006 6:18:44 PM

The day Robert Byrd shuffles off this mortal coil is going to be a very sad, difficult and confusing one for a certain species of troll often spotted around here.

Posted by: djw | Aug 16, 2006 6:19:54 PM

When did Byrd call someone non-white-skinned "macaca"? I must have missed that one.

Hey, did you miss it when Byrd used "NIGGER" twice on national TV??

Good ol' Kleagle!!

Posted by: Fred Jones | Aug 16, 2006 6:33:46 PM

Constantine, yes, someone literally said that. It is No. 2 on my list of "Amazingly stupid Internet comments."

No. 1 is a poster who responded to a debate on whether public high schools should offer vocational training with this gem: "High school is about academics. You can hire people to do things like fix your car or your hair."

Posted by: Magenta | Aug 16, 2006 7:01:25 PM


Byrd said that 30 plus years ago. He has since then gave an unqualified appology. Your guy said this just this weekend. I don't expect you to understand this because I know the concept of maturity is alien to you, but a mature person understands that people change, and a mature person understand that when someone says it just the weekend before that logic (something you also have a problem with) can tell us which guy is still a racist and which guy isn't. See even Mandella (who I know you will probably say was a socialist) was able to forgive former racists- so can I. What I as a black guy can't forgive is an unrepentant present racist. I don't forgiven them not because I am weak- but because I am strong and don't feel in this society that I have to put with either your shit or theirs.

Posted by: akaison | Aug 16, 2006 7:31:27 PM

Oh, and Ron

Are you on meds?

Just wondering because you seem to have a brain tumor that requires you to go off topic. Do you speak English? If not I am sure there are remedial programs for Republicans somewhere.

Posted by: akaison | Aug 16, 2006 7:33:36 PM

300 years ago Africa had mandatory Social Security for all its people, and they groaned under the oppressive weight of all the taxation. So generous Europeans offered to take the poor Africans away from the land of their oppression, to a new land, one where people would be allowed to have Personal Savings Accounts and could invest their retirement money as they pleased.

Remember, Jeb Bush said “Floridians live on America’s wang.”

In the southern states of the USA, there arose an ownership society based upon private enterprise, PSAs and HSAs with HDHPs. People saved so much on their taxes that they didn’t pay anything to the government and still got money back each year.

The Socialist North was jealous of the south’s acronyms, so they started the Civil War. George Bush said, “In the ownership society, all Americans must own the ownership of their own acronyms for ownership.”

The North won the Civil War only because Ron and Fred were busy defending the Frontier against Xur and the Ko-Dan Armada. Jeb Bush says, “Cocaine is a helluva drug.”

The Northern states imposed Social Security oppression over all of the USA. They chose 65 as retirement age because Senator Robert Byrd inserted a gene into African-Americans that makes all of them die before then.

Vote Democratic if you hate puppies and ice cream. Vote Republican if you want to be millionaires living on Lollipop Island where it rains grape-flavored tax shelters.

Jeb Bush said, “Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn.”

Posted by: Stephen | Aug 16, 2006 10:47:15 PM

I salute you, Stephen. Magnificent, sir, and hilarious. :)

Posted by: the pope of chilitown | Aug 17, 2006 9:06:54 AM

Adrock, you said its funny that Senator Allen doesn't list healthcare on his website. This is on a need to know basis and you sound like you need to be informed.

Federal - Bill to Increase HSA Contribution Limits Introduced

Senator George Allen (R-VA) introduced legislation, S 2424 which will increase the maximum amount that may be contributed to Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).

Under current law, contributions to HSAs may not exceed the lesser of the deductible for the high-deductible health plan or $2,700 (for individual coverage) or $5,450 (for family coverage). Under the Allen bill, the maximum allowable annual HSA contribution would be increased to the out-of-pocket limit for the high-deductible health plan. The maximum out-of-pocket limit for 2006 is $5,250 for individual coverage and $10,500 for family coverage.

The Bush Administration's budget for fiscal year 2007, which was submitted to Congress in early February, also proposes to increase the maximum amount that may be contributed to HSAs.


akaison, you said, "What I as a Black guy can't forgive is an unrepentant present racist." My Great, Great...Grandfather was shot freeing slaves in the Iowa 23rd. A lot of white people were shot freeing slaves. As a matter of fact the slave owners had slaves shooting at white Union forces. Republican Lynn Swann is going to be the 1st Black Governor in America unless of course Ohio gets there first with Republican Ken Blackwell this November.

akaison, wake up. You have been had by the AARP, Deaniacs and John Edwards, a trial lawyer. Social Security discriminates against men because women live longer. Black males on average die long before white women or Black women. The average age of death for Black males is before the Social Security eligibility age of 67. So Black males pay a lifetime of Social Security tax and die before they get their first penny just so old rich white females in Miami or New York City can spend $195 doing their fingernails, its sick.

I don't blame you akaison, I trust the Bush Republican, Jimmy Buffett. He said, "Some people say there is a woman to blame...but I know...its all womens' fault."


Stephen, you John Edwards hozemonster. I didn't say any of that. You are up to your trial lawyer stunts again. Much like Edwards telling the jury that dead babies voices' are talking through him like some voo-doo witch. Remember when Edwards lost and the Kerry/Edwards campaign wanted to put All Americans on their Kerry/Edwards/KidPloy? Every young American who became sick or hurt would have their health insurance terminated at 25 years of age? How stupid was that? That's John Edward's IQ. Some blow it off as a simple, improper risk assessment (IRA). I know better. If Edwards wanted to put all American children in DANGER the last time he ran for President, why should anybody think he is any smarter now? I don't.

Employees: March into HR and say, "You charge more for this employer-based health insurance than the cost of a new Hummer. Are you licensed to sell insurance? If HR says, "No!!!" Slam your cell phone on the table and shout, "I have that on tape."

Stephen, teachers and union employees might want employer-based health insurance terminating their sick childrens' health insurance as adults, but the self-employed are smarter.

Newsflash: President Signing New Savings ERA

The "Pension Protection Act," expected to be signed today by President Bush. This bill, hidden from Democrats, will unravel the heart of the Liberal broke movement of Micheal Moore, John Edwards and Hillary Clinton, all millionaires who want to keep the rest of America broke begging a politician for a handout. "The days of the good old mother company taking care of you with a pension as a retiree are gone," said Bill Fleming, a managing director for PriceWaterhouseCooper.

Governor Jeb Bush reacted to Florida's Governor Primary race between Gallagher and the tan Greek, Charlie Crist. Republican tan Greek Crist's TV ad says that Republican Gallagher's 1994 TV ad compared Gov Jeb Bush to Cuba's Fidel Castro. On Tuesday Jeb Bush said, "A little pushing and pulling is ok as candidates highlite their opponents' policy differences."

Trust me, the next tan Governor of Florida wouldn't have used that attack on another Republican, that loser Gallagher, if it wasn't approved at the very highest level of the Bush family, namely Barbara Bush and Karl Rove. I'm sure that Ad against Gallagher put a big smile on Barbara's face. She has a memory like an elephant. You mess with the bull you get the horn.

Jeb isn't running for President in '08, maybe. So I'm supporting George Allen until we can get another Bush in there in 2012.

Posted by: Ron Greiner | Aug 17, 2006 10:35:55 AM

Governor Jeb Bush reacted to Florida's Governor Primary race between Gallagher and the tan Greek, Charlie Crist.

Why is it that you don't refer to the race as one between "the pasty Irishman, Gallagher, and the tan Greek, Charlie Crist" ?

Which kind of gets us right back to the original topic of this thread-- the Republicans' problem with race and those Americans they perceive to be "foreign."

Posted by: Constantine | Aug 17, 2006 12:33:50 PM

Constantine, we are knee deep in Greek restaurants down here. I bet there is a hundred of them in Tarpon Springs.

Funny thing is that Liberal George Soros has no pull with Florida Greeks. All counties of Tampa Bay turned RED during the last Presidential election.

These Greeks don't mind being called Greeks. Just like my neighbor isn't crying because of the football teams called the Redskins or Cheifs. That's just Democrats saying no one can be called anything because of their political correctness.

ezra's back, so I'll be banned now. ezra has a darn hard time getting his propaganda out if the truth goes with it. Hey, Petey, ezra is back so now all the censorship begins.

ezra is smart enough to know all of you together are not smart enough to argue against the Shock N Awe of Republican health care reform.

Posted by: Ron Greiner | Aug 17, 2006 2:16:34 PM

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