Just a sincere apology?

A couple of days ago I met two Virginians who hadn’t even heard that George Allen — in a stump speech, no less — used a common racial slur in speaking about and to a dark-skinned young photographer in his audience. Information on the topic abounds, but they only watch FOX. I was already a Jim Webb supporter, and I was already a George Allen opponent before Jim Webb was a candidate, so I can’t say the incident cost Allen my vote. It was never his to lose.
Still, I am always amazed at the persistence of ignorance and always grateful to those who will not only seek out information but will share it.
Jeffrey Feldman at the the Frameshop has done the Google research on the word Allen used:

‘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.’

The article is worth reading in its entirety, along with the comments that have been posted. It concludes:

The term ‘macaque’–also pronounced ‘mukakkah’–is a commonly used racial slur on par with the word ‘nigger’ in the united states.
In Europe, the word ‘macaque’ is largely a racial slur used to insult people of North African descent. It is roughly synonomous with ‘dirty arab.’
Most of the results that came back in these searches took me to well known white supremacy websites–and to posts from the past two or three years. So this is a phrase that is still in use.

We heard George Allen say that he used the word innocently, claiming that he did not know what it meant. I don’t believe this is possible.
Steve Benen at The Carpetbagger agrees:

If Allen had a sterling record on civil rights, perhaps he’d be given the benefit of the doubt. But he doesn’t we’re talking about the same George Allen who revered the Confederate flag during his political career, opposed a state holiday honoring Martin Luther King, referred to the NAACP as an “extremist group,” issued a Confederate History Month proclamation, calling the Civil War “a four-year struggle for independence and sovereign rights,” and kept a noose alongside a Confederate flag in his law office.

And now, quoting from Bob Lewis, Associated Press, on the CBS website, after we have all seen the video that “shows him [Allen] pointing to Sidarth and singling him out for derision” and we have seen that he “smiled as he needled Sidarth, seemingly enjoying the moment, ” George Allen has sought out this young man and apologized personally. The GOP thinks this is enough:

GOP strategists agreed that Allen has damaged himself, but the incident need not doom him politically.
“Senator Allen needs to make it clear that he made a mistake, that this was obviously something he should not have done,” said Mike Mahaffey, a former Iowa Republican Party chairman.
Iowa’s nominating caucuses rely on one-to-one politics, giving Allen a chance to personally appeal to voters and convince them the incident was an aberration.
“If he can come across as sincere in that regard, it will not hamper him in Iowa,” said Mahaffey, a GOP activist with a law practice in Montezuma, Iowa.

As mistakes go, this is the kind kids in fifth grade make, and we ask them to apologize and we forgive them. We even hope the kid they pointed to will forgive. But George Allen isn’t in the fifth grade. His disregard for people who are not of his own class and color is apparent. To forgive this kind of “mistake” in the context of a Senate race is an error in judgement.
And as for the GOP activist Mahaffey, note well that he is not asking George Allen to give a sincere apology. He is only asking him to “come across as sincere.” He knows as well as I do that an “appearance” is the best Allen will be able to give.

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