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George Allen on Civil Rights

Republican Jr Senator (VA)


Tunisian mother did not teach him Tunisian slur "macaca"

Q: Senator Allen, you have said several times that you made up the word macaca when referring to S.R. Sidarth, the young man of Indian heritage born and raised in Fairfax County who attends your alma mater. But that word is a racial slur in French-influenced African nations, most notably Tunisia. Your mother's Tunisian--are you sure you never heard the word and if you were just making up a name, to call Sidarth, why not just call him John, something that--rather than something that sounds derogatory. Was it because he looked different?

A: I hope you're not trying to bring my mother into this matter. I have said, and I'll say it once again, I made a mistake. It was a thoughtless moment. I have apologized for it, as well I should. I had never heard that word before, from my mother or from anyone else. And so I made that mistake, I will of course do better, I'm sorry I said it. Nonetheless, there was no intent whatsoever to insult that young man or anyone else.

Source: Peggy Fox interview in Washington Post Sep 20, 2006

Using "macaca" was a mistake, but not intended as an insult

Q On August 11th, you were at a campaign stop, and a young man who was videotaping it for the Webb campaign was there also. Let's watch.
This fellow here-over here in the yellow shirt, macaca, or whatever his name is, he's with my opponent. And let's give a welcome to macaca here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia.
The young man, S.R. Sidarth, is a resident of Virginia, an American citizen. Critics say that "macaca" is a racist slur, and that you used it because he was dark-skinned. Why did you use those words toward a dark-skinned American?

ALLEN: I made a mistake. I said things thoughtlessly. I've apologized for it, as well I should. But there was no racial or ethnic intent to slur anyone. If I had any idea that that word was an insult, I would never do it, because it's contrary to what I believe and who I am.

Q: Well, where'd the word come from?

ALLEN: Oh, it's just made up.

Q: You'd never heard it before?

ALLEN: Never heard it before.

Source: VA Senate debate on Meet the Press with Tim Russert, p.19 Sep 17, 2006

In 1984, opposed MLK holiday; in 1993, honored Confederacy

Q: The New York Times said, "In 1984, as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, Mr. Allen opposed a state holiday honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. After being elected governor in 1993, he issued a proclamation honoring Confederate History Month." Why did you do that?

ALLEN: There are a lot of things that I wish I had learned earlier in life. I grew up in a football family, and those teams taught me a lot. And one of the things that you learn in football is that you don't care about someone's race or ethnicity or religion, it's a meritocracy, it's a level playing field, and it's what we should aspire to in our society. And that's why I've always been advocating, making sure America and Virginia's a land of opportunity for all. Through the years I've learned and I've grown. I wish I had had these experiences earlier in life, because I would have made decisions differently.

Source: VA Senate debate on Meet the Press with Tim Russert, p.20 Sep 17, 2006

Kept Confederate imagery in Governor's office; for heritage

Q: The Associated Press says, "Allen used to keep a Confederate flag in his living room, a noose in his law office and a picture of Confederate troops in his governor's office."

ALLEN: On the Confederate flag-as a kid, I was rebellious, anti-establishment, I still am. And I looked at the flag as a symbol for that.

Q: But you were governor.

ALLEN: I look at the flag as heritage and as regional pride. But I've also seen, over the years, talking and listening and learning and growing, that that flag, to African-Americans, represents repression, segregation and violence against them. And I would never want to have anything to insult or offend someone, and so that's why I would not be utilizing that flag, because that's not who I am, and I would never want to have that image or harmful impact on fellow human beings who I want to make sure are part of team America, because we do need to compete much better against countries in six and seven times our population

Source: VA Senate debate on Meet the Press with Tim Russert, p.20 Sep 17, 2006

Opposes requiring companies to hire more minorities