Desperate to resurrect his political career, George Allen has now resorted to telling an outright lie.
In August 2006, Allen pointed out a videographer paid by Webb’s campaign to track Allen at campaign stops. At a rally before a mostly white crowd in far southwestern Virginia, Allen pointed out S.R. Sidarth, the American-born son of Indian immigrants.
“In the process I gave the young cameraman the unfortunate, made-up nickname of Macaca (or Makaka),” Allen writes in the book’s final chapter. “I thought of it as a nonsense word. If I had known the nickname could be considered a racial slur, I would not have said it. But that is how it was characterized. The poor judgment was mine. I should never have dragged this young man into the debate when my real target was my opponent. I apologized to him, and take full responsibility for the remark and its aftermath, which should have been handled much better.”
That, in a word, is bull****. As was well documented at the time, the fact is that the word “macaca” is a common racial slur in French North Africa, where George Allen’s mother was “born and raised”. For more, see Salon’s “Stepping in 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.
Maybe George “Felix Macacawitz” Allen thinks we’ve all forgotten this over the past 4 years, or maybe he just thinks we’re idiots. Fortunately, through the wonders of “Google,” we can quickly debunk revisionist history and outright lies, such as the one Allen just spewed forth in the Washington Post. The question is, will the corporate media let him get away with this attempt at resurrecting his image, via an outright lie, or what?