Is the personal racism of a US Senator enough to turn voters off in an election in the year 2006? Is incompetent lying enough to do so? As we have learned, racism is almost enough to get an atheist elected in Alabama (see the INQUIRER, Sept. 2006, “An Atheist Gets Over 44% of the Vote in Alabama – Unfortunately!”) It may be that in these times where illegal immigration has become a campaign issue that racism may again be in vogue (even if there are numerous other non-racist objections to illegal immigration.)
According to Wikipedia, on Friday, August 11, 2006, Senator George Allen twice called S.R. Sidarth, a 20-year-old Jim Webb campaign volunteer (Allen’s opponent in this election) a word that sounds like "macaca" or "macaque". Sidarth is of Indian ancestry, but was born and raised in Fairfax County, Virginia. Sidarth was filming an Allen campaign stop in Breaks, Virginia, near the Kentucky border, as a "tracker" for the opposing Webb campaign. During a speech, Allen paused, then began referring to Sidarth.
“This fellow here over here with the yellow shirt, Macaca, or whatever his name is. He's with my opponent. He's following us around everywhere. And it's just great. We're going to places all over Virginia, and he's having it on film and it's great to have you here and you show it to your opponent because he's never been there and probably will never come. [...] Let's give a welcome to Macaca, here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia.”
According to the Washington Post, Allen's campaign manager initially dismissed the racial incident with an expletive. Allen later said that he had heard his staff use the term "macaca" in reference to Sidarth, that he did not know what the word meant, and that he did not intend to insult Sidarth's ethnicity when he singled him out to the crowd. "I do apologize if he's offended by that," Allen said, adding that "I would never want to demean him as an individual." On August 20, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported Allen as saying "he made up the word macaca (a different explanation from the campaign's first response)."
From the Raising Kaine website: Only a decade ago, as governor of Virginia, Allen personally initiated an association with the Council of Conservative Citizens, the successor organization to the segregationist White Citizens Council and among the largest white supremacist groups… After speaking with CCC founder and former White Citizens Council organizer Gordon Lee Baum and two of his cohorts, Allen suggested that they pose for a photograph with then-National Rifle Association spokesman and actor Charlton Heston. The photo appeared in the Summer 1996 issue of the CCC's newsletter, the Citizens Informer.
According to Baum, Allen had not naively stumbled into a chance meeting with unfamiliar people. He knew exactly who and what the CCC was about and, from Baum's point of view, was engaged in a straightforward political transaction. "It helped us as much as it helped him," Baum told me. "We got our bona fides." And so did Allen.
So we’ll soon find out whether racism and dishonesty is a disqualifier for the holding of a seat in the US Senate. You’d think that we could do better.