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August 14, 2006

You Say Macaque, I Mohawk, Let's Call The Whole Thing Racist

I just love this.  George Allen spent some time this morning calling a South East Asian Webb staffer Macaque -- a charmingly vintage racial slur for North Africans.  Sadly, Macaque -- also known by his given name, S.R Sidarth -- was holding a video camera.  So now the campaign is in turmoil, Allen's been caught in a racial slur.  So what do his staffers come up with?

Allen campaign manager Dick Wadhams said the Webb campaign's complaints about the comments are unfounded and he said Allen had "nothing to apologize for" to the young man.

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.

Heh.  Sidarth, of course, has neither a mohawk, nor anything like it.  Indeed, his haircut is surprisingly similar to that of, yes, George Allen's.  But I love imagining the hasty meeting that must've happened at Allen HQ -- the desperate search for a homophone to macaque, the settling on mohawk, the efforts to explain why Allen would think to use mohawk, the decision that voters would buy that Allen both couldn't pronounce the word and applied it to someone with an average haircut.  Had to be one helluva meeting.  And remember, this is the same Allen with a confederate flag fetish and a noose hanging in his office.  What a winner.

And now, for your entertainment, a comparison of Allen and Sidarth's comments.  Spot the mohawk!


Mr. Mohawk wonders: Am I here?


Or here?  I sure am Tricky!


August 14, 2006 | Permalink


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Allen stains my alma mater with his wretched utterances. Hopefully this will end his fantasy of higher office.
And how stupid do you have to be slur a guy who's got a video camera trained on you?!?

Posted by: Mike P | Aug 14, 2006 6:35:01 PM

Strictly speaking, he said "macaca". Or that's what it sounds like. I don't know if that translates to "macaque".

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Aug 14, 2006 6:42:09 PM

thefreedictionary.com thinks "macaque" is pronounced "muh-CA-cuh", "uh" here being a schwa and with a long "a". That's probably close enough.

Posted by: Dennis | Aug 14, 2006 6:49:06 PM

Huh! The St. Louis Zoo seems to think macaques is "(pronounced mah-kaks')". But I'm willing to allow freedictionary some cred.

My googling turned up several questionable sites trying to convince me that it was pronounced "mah-cock". I do not trust them.

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Aug 14, 2006 6:58:02 PM

I've seen the video. It's "macaca", and Allen says it several times. He never even tried to say "mohawk", not once. And he certainly had plenty of opportunities to correct himself.

This is one of those times where the racist "I never said that" or "I meant something else" runs smack into the video camera. Allen might get away with this if there hadn't been someone recording him live right then -- the corporate media would shill for him happily enough. But there was a guy. With a camera. Whose name is not "macaca".

Posted by: paperwight | Aug 14, 2006 7:08:18 PM

Regardless of whether the word "macaca" is meant to refer to the racial slur "macaque," there definitely seems to have been an ugly racial or ethnic element at work here:

"This fellow here over here with the yellow shirt, Macaca, or whatever his name is. ... Lets give a welcome to Macaca, here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia."

That sounds like someone singling out the only non-white guy in the crowd and heckling him on the basis of being all weird and brown and foreign.

Posted by: Christmas | Aug 14, 2006 7:21:13 PM

I think my favorite part is where the poor kid is born and raised in Fairfax county. Isn't Allen a California-bred suburban racist?

What a maroon.

Posted by: wcw | Aug 14, 2006 7:35:02 PM

Let's have a contest of "You're the Allen staffer." How would you try to spin this- what word can you come up with? (C'mon, you can do better than mohawk!) My first entry is, "This fellow over here with the yellow shirt, my cracker, or whatever his name is." See, he was treating him like just another of the (white) boys!

Posted by: SP | Aug 14, 2006 7:54:19 PM

The discussion of how to pronounce Macaque misses the fact that George Allen is most likely too stupid pronounce the word properly to begin with.

Posted by: Vladi G | Aug 14, 2006 8:20:07 PM

SP, I'll go for "my cocoa" -- sort of like calling people "sugar" as a term of endearment, except tailored to brown people.

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Aug 14, 2006 8:21:25 PM

SP, I'll go for "my cocoa" -- sort of like calling people "sugar" as a term of endearment, except tailored to brown people.

After which Allen segued into a hybrid Surf/C&W rendition of "Brown Sugar".

Posted by: paperwight | Aug 14, 2006 8:23:08 PM

How did he even get the idea to call the man "Macaca?" Intentionally racist or no, it smacks of demeaning him, a la Bush and his dumb-ass nicknames that at least don't usually track with known racial slurs.

Allen's mother is, I read, Algerian. Not too hard to figure where this word might have been bandied about and used to denigrate. That said, even if that is not the case, calling someone by a name that is not his or her own is just plain insulting regardless of any racial connotation. Hi, I'm Ezra. That's cool Ezra, but I'm going to call you Sam, or whatever your name is.

Classy. Sort of like "what's your real nam?" My name is what I tell you to call me, jerk. I hope this smolders....

Posted by: abjectfunk | Aug 14, 2006 9:04:16 PM

He called him a monkey - and quite possibly a female monkey.

Ezra, surely you know enough Portuguese to know that macaco means monkey and macaca means female monkey.

Posted by: Randy Paul | Aug 14, 2006 9:12:20 PM

It's a racist slur in Brazil as well.

Posted by: Randy Paul | Aug 14, 2006 9:13:58 PM

Maybe he meant to call him "malakas," a sometimes-affectionate Greek slang expression for "masturbator."

Posted by: Christmas | Aug 14, 2006 9:18:47 PM

In fact yes, the freedictionary pronounciation is m\schwa-kak', which might not be good enough. Over at firedoglake, though, they seem to believe that Allen's mother is Tunisian, so the idea that the interpretation is implausible just slipped away.

Posted by: Dennis | Aug 14, 2006 9:28:30 PM

To correct, Tunisian, not Albanian as I first said.

I'm a moron, no defense to that. It's habit-forming.

Other than that, this seems hardly a concidence, although even if it is, simply mangling someone's name for the purpose of humiliating him strikes me as messed up in any universe. Screwing it up is one thing, but purposefully calling him something else (racist or not racist) on purpose is rather small.

Posted by: abjectfunk | Aug 14, 2006 9:52:33 PM

until I heard the tunsian part I was willing to imagine (however slimly) that it was a slip of the tongue but with that we got a racist behind door number 1

Posted by: akaison | Aug 14, 2006 9:55:34 PM

"Heh. Sidarth, of course, has neither a mohawk, nor anything like it."

Maybe he had a mohawk at one time.

I think Allen will survive this pretty easily. If Hillery and Biden can survive their less obscure slurs against Indians, I think George Allen will be alright.

Unless there really is a liberal media who would give Biden and Hillery a pass but not Allen.

Posted by: Captain Toke | Aug 14, 2006 10:25:09 PM

and finally we have the definitive word from the resident racist capt toke- we can all be assured of its impact now.

Posted by: akaison | Aug 14, 2006 10:54:58 PM

"and finally we have the definitive word from the resident racist capt toke-"

you, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Cynthia McKinney, etc. sure like to throw that claim around, racism.

Maybe that is why it is meaningless now.

Posted by: Captain Toke | Aug 14, 2006 11:30:17 PM

I don't even think he was smart enough to make a slur using a word with a meaning. I think he saw what he thought was a foreigner and let some idiotic syllables roll out of his mouth just to indicate that they guy was out of place. I would be like calling some random Chinese guy Fung Yu or something. Nothing will happen to him. His supporters probably think and act the same way. I'm just glad he is on tape for the rest of the world to see.

Posted by: Qusan | Aug 14, 2006 11:42:42 PM

Man, I'll just bet he was confusing 'macaca', his mother's version of the n-word, with "muchacho". Allen wouldn't deliberately call a man with a camcorder a nasty name. But he'd be just dumb enough to try to use an expression he wasn't familiar with, and the word that came out was one he'd heard a hundred times as a kid.

I'd bet even money that that's exactly what happened; moreover, if I were the staffer in question, this is surely the best face I could come up with.

Posted by: kth | Aug 15, 2006 2:22:51 AM

Given that Allen is dumb enough to slur someone on camera, and assume they are foreign because they aren't white, isn't it possible he just doesn't know how to pronounce macaque?

Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Aug 15, 2006 6:21:23 AM

Got anymore of that good shit you smoke, capt toke? It seems to make you pretty goddamn stupid.

Posted by: merlallen | Aug 15, 2006 6:42:46 AM

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