16 August 2006

"welcome to america"

For those who haven't heard this ridiculous story about this year's Senate race in Virginia, read this article. Apparently the esteemed incumbent, Senator George Allen, famous mostly for his father's role as a Washington Redskins coach, made a major racially-motivated gaffe at a campaign event over the weekend in a small town in southwestern Virginia (video here). The controversy comes from comments directed to S.R. Sidarth, a college-age volunteer for the campaign of Allen's Democratic opponent, Jim Webb, who is trailing the Allen campaign with a video camera to unobtrusively research the other side's speeches and strategies (a common campaign practice across the country). In the midst of a stump speech, directly after claiming that his campaign is "run on positive, constructive ideas," Allen began to address Sidarth, who happens to be a U.S.-born citizen of Indian descent, as "macaca," a derogatory term that he proceeded to repeat again -- indicating it was more than just a phonetic mispronunciation. Allen then followed up with "Welcome to America, to the real world of Virginia," implying falsely that both Sidarth and his candidate are strangers to nation and state. What most Virginians will (or should) realize is that this latest mishap follows Allen's long history of racial insensitivity, including episodes of Confederate flag worship and displaying a noose in his office. And regardless of any past offenses, this weekend's outburst reveals Allen to be an obnoxious bully (for lack of a better word), eager to single out the only non-white person in a political gathering and take advantage of that person's difference.
Now, if this were any normal election year, I would say who cares, he's going to win anyway, it's one of the reddest states in the union. But this isn't any typical year, and the Democrats are not running a typical candidate. Jim Webb is a former Republican, former Secretary of the Navy under President Reagan, and a conservative, pro-defense, anti-war alternative to the stale status quo of George Allen, who has done absolutely nothing over the last six years for either the state of Virginia, the country, or humanity. The race is still a long-shot at best for Webb, but perhaps this latest episode will mark the beginning of the end for Allen. The bloggers certainly won't let it die, and I think we've seen already in Connecticut that their political clout is not to be underestimated. Who knows. This is all to say (in too many words, as usual) that if you live in Virginia, you should not only vote for Jim Webb, but you should help his campaign in any way possible. And if you don't live in Virginia, check out his site anyway, and maybe you can help too. Maybe then, come November 7, we can all welcome George Allen to "the real world of Virginia" on his way out of DC and into retirement.

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