And Sambo's was just a good place for pancakes

George Allen and the man he calls "Macaca."

Published August 14, 2006 8:22PM (EDT)

At a campaign stop near the Kentucky border Friday, George Allen took a moment to introduce his supporters to S.R. Sidarth, a University of Virginia senior who has been videotaping the Republican senator's events for Democratic challenger Jim Webb.

"This fellow here over here with the yellow shirt -- Macaca, or whatever his name is -- he's with my opponent," Allen said. After suggesting that Webb was spending more time with "Hollywood movie moguls" than with real Virginians, Allen turned back to the subject of Sidarth. "Let's give a welcome to Macaca, here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia."

Sidarth, as the Washington Post notes, was born and raised in Virginia. Allen, as the Post doesn't note, was born in California.

So what was all that "welcome to America" business about? Allen's campaign says the senator was simply welcoming the Webb campaign to the real world. OK, then, but what about "Macaca"? Allen's camp says campaign staffers began referring to Sidarth as "Mohawk" because of the hairstyle he sports. "Macaca," the campaign says, was just an innocent variation on the theme. Sidarth, who is of Indian descent, has a different take. "I think he was doing it because he could and I was the person of color there and it was useful for him in inciting his audience," Sidarth tells the Post. "I was annoyed he would use my race in a political context."

But "Macaca"? Maybe it's some sort of bastardization of "mohawk," but the Post -- with the help of Webb's campaign, no doubt -- has identified a couple of other possibilities. Macaca "refers to a species of monkeys in the Eastern Hemisphere," the Post explains, while Makaka is a town in South Africa. Any of which, we'd think, translates pretty well to "not like us" in the context of a George Allen event near the Kentucky border.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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2006 Elections Jim Webb War Room