Despite Apology, Fallout Continues
For Virginia Senator’s Racial Jibe
U.S. Sen. George Allen of Virginia earlier this month declined an award from the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund after an outcry over his selection for the honor.
Allen, a Republican seeking re-election this fall, decided to forgo the award after being told donors to the fund had threatened to withhold contributions if he received it.
“The foundation told the senator that they’ve been catching a lot of static from members and some of their donors, and before it spins into a week of controversy, we just decided to decline it,” said Allen’s Senate spokesman, John Reid.
Allen ascribed the reaction to political adversaries in an election year.
“I regret that there are those who would put their personal or political dislike of me ahead of the needs of deserving students, and I do not want to be the cause of any controversy which could in any way harm the efforts to help these young people,”
Allen said in a one-paragraph statement distributed by his Senate office.
Allen’s decision came almost three weeks after he singled out a Virginia-born college student of Indian descent to a mostly White crowd at a campaign rally and twice applied the name “Macaca” to him.
Macaca is a genus of monkeys that includes macaques, and is considered a racial slur in some parts of the world.
“This fellow over here with the yellow shirt, Macaca or whatever his name is, he’s with my opponent,” Allen said during the rally. He later told the crowd of about 100 supporters: “Let’s give a welcome to Macaca here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia.”
The student, S.R. Sidarth, says he felt Allen was singling him out because of his race.
The damage will haunt Allen for some time, says Dr. Merle Black, a political scientist at Emory University in Atlanta and a specialist in presidential and congressional races.
“It just raises questions about his judgment and how sincere he is in how he deals with these kinds of issues,” he says.
The uproar over Allen’s selection for the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund’s Community Leadership Award illustrates the lingering resentment over the incident.
“The Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund greatly appreciates that Sen. Allen decided to make the students of the Fund’s 47 public HBCUs a priority,” said Fund president Dwayne Ashley in a statement. “We accept Sen. Allen’s decision and sincerely appreciate his commitment to the students attending HBCUs and look forward to working with him again in the future.”
— Associated Press
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