Bloggers on George Allen's ethnic slur.

Bloggers on George Allen's ethnic slur.

Bloggers on George Allen's ethnic slur.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
Aug. 15 2006 7:01 PM

Monkeying Around

Bloggers pile on Sen. George Allen, discuss Jill Carroll's series on her abduction, and wonder if the world is ready for the return of the woolly mammoth.

Monkeying around: Last week at a campaign rally, Republican Sen. George Allen referred to S.R. Sidarth, an opponent's staffer who is of Indian descent, as a "macaca," which can translate to "monkey" and is a racial slur against Africans. Allen apologized, saying he thought it referred to Sidarth's coif—a mohawk. Sidarth has responded that his hairstyle is actually a mullet.

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Mike Boyer, who blogs at Foreign Policy's Passport, isn't buying Allen's excuse and writes that the senator's verbal gaffe should cost him his seat: "That excuse would be easier to believe were it not coming from a U.S. senator with a penchant for collecting—and wearing—Confederate flags. … That any U.S. senator would speak this way should be grounds for immediate censure by his colleagues and calls for resignation within his own party." Kate O'Beirne at the National Review's Corner thinks that it is Sidarth who owes Virginians an apology: "He told the Post, 'I was the person of color there and it was useful for him in inciting his audience.' He apparently believes that drawing attention to him would reliably rile up the racist Virginia crackers. Whose quip should provoke outrage?"

The folks at D.C. gossip site Wonkette give Allen the benefit of the doubt, albeit tongue-in-cheek: "Maybe he meant to say 'macaw,' a bird with gaily-colored plumage? Or 'Macarena,' the '90s dance craze popularized by the band Los Del Rio?" Andrew Sullivan isn't. He claims Allen was up to some familiar dirty tricks: "It's almost classic populist bigotry: create an enemy out there—fags, Indians, Jews, Hollywood, immigrants, whoever—and use them to build support for you as representing the 'real world of Virginia.' In one word: Rove." Conservative Texas blogger RightWingSparkle agrees with Sullivan.She concedes that politicians can be dumb but says Allen can't be that dumb: "I've never heard the term before, but I ain't buying that he didn't know what it meant. Shame on him."

Surprisingly, the left-leaning Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall is willing to cut Allen some slack—sort of: "I suspect that Allen started off with a pretty crude effort to make fun of Sidarth as an immigrant, an outsider, perhaps by snidely but in his mind jocularly mispronouncing his name. Who knows? But in the moment, when he was looking at this kid who was clearly getting on his nerves, and amongst a lilly white crowd, this is the word that came to his mind and he used it. To me, that's actually the most innocent explanation I can think of."

At Marshall's offshoot TPMCafe, DLC veep Ed Gilgore wonders if there's a political calculation at hand: "But on a day when the Washington Post reports a new study showing that more than one million immigrants now live in the Washington, D.C., metro area—with probably half of them, roughly, living in Virginia—Allen's casual immigrant-baiting can be viewed as either politically stupid, or as reflecting a calculation that anti-immigrant sentiment in the Old Dominion is sufficiently powerful to run the risk of alienating a growing voter bloc."

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Read more about George Allen here. Slate's John Dickerson analyzes  the "boobishness" of Allen.

A hostage speaks: Jill Carroll, the journalist who was held by Iraqi kidnappers for nearly three months, is telling her story in an 11-part series in the Christian Science Monitor, which made the freelancer a staffer during her ordeal.

Metulj, a contributor to progressive Knoxville, Tenn., blog KnoxViews, is moved by Carroll's story but suspects his counterparts on the right won't think so: "I am sure that right now some neocon nitwit is picking it apart looking for evidence that she is 'al-Qaeda' personified and other signs of liberal-media-supporting-terror code language." Scott Allen Miller, a political independent, at The Scotto Bloggo indulges Metulj: "She's convinced me that Iraqis have great hospitality, even the heretofore unknown Revenge Brigades. Hell, they even get Oprah off the satellite dish. These mujahadeen are in touch with their feelings! Er, wait these people are deadly, vicious killers, right? They killed Allan Enwiya right in front of her, didn't they? So far, the harshest condemnation she has offered for these killers and kidnappers is that she is 'deeply angry' and that they're 'criminals at best.' "

At liberal Daily Kos, contributor clammyc claims: "Certainly we will learn more from this than we will from any of the garbage that is being force-fed to us on a daily basis by those whose arrogance and stupidity is only exceeded by their general ignorance, true cowardice and insecurity."

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At Incremental Degrees, New England grad student Cartooniste supports Carroll: "Kudos to you, Jill Carroll, for learning Arabic, working hard at what you want to do, and managing to keep your wits about you. I don't think I would have had the courage that you have."

Read more about Jill Carroll here.

Wooly bully: Scientist announced that the extinct woolly mammoth could make a comeback. By using frozen sperm retrieved from mammoth carcasses found in Siberia and injecting it into elephant eggs, a species that is at least 50 percent mammoth could be produced.

The point of the exercise vexes Gryphen, a liberal Alaskan at The Immoral Minority. "Okay but why? Why do we need giant furry elephants running around when our planet is heating up at every change of the season? ... I sometimes just feel that men do things just because they can, with no thought to the usefulness or potential problems that might occur if they proceed with their plans."

Not such a good idea to mess with Mother Nature, counsels Elissa, a contributor at Phillyburbs.com. "Great. So now scientists are going to try to bring woolly mammoths back to life? Haven't they seen Jurassic Park? Sure, I'd rather have mammoths running around than Velociraptors, but scientists need to stop messing with nature. What is the point of bringing back an animal that nature purposely selected for extinction? Well, at least Snuffleupagus will have someone to hang out with." And so will octogenarian Sen. Robert Byrd, snipes conservative "Snarkmeister Extraordinaire" McGehee at Yippee-Ki-Yay: "Wow—prehistoric creatures brought back to life. It's about time Robert Byrd had someone his own age to hang out with."

Read more about the return of the woolly mammoth here.