As an immigrant to the United States, I’ve been treated fairly well, even in the South. The “go back to Russia” (it’s Ukraine, dammit) comments were mostly spewed forth by my classmates who, as students at a poncy private school really ought to have… Oh, never mind. That’s not the point here, really. Race and class were on my side. I’m lily-white, and the aforementioned poncy private school really drove up my credentials even among the crusty “Ah’m a proud Americun, who the heck are you” crowd.
Senator George Allen’s little macaca cock-up tells me just how lucky I was when it comes to skin-colour, nasty classmates (and a few other rogue dipshits) be damned. Because it’s not really the “macaca” comment that bothers me (somehow I seriously doubt that Allen is “edumacated” enough to know what the hell a “macaca” is, though, as one astute blogger points out, why use a word if you have no idea as to its actual meaning?), it’s the “welcome to America” part that really sets my bad Ukrainian teeth on the edge.
Senator Allen, who is (or at least was) considered the Republican front-runner for the 2008 presidential elections, mocked a member of his political opponent’s campaign as he videotaped Allen doing his shtick at a rally. Allen called the man a “macaca” (which is a racial slur in North Africa, where Allen’s mother is from, and also in Ukraine, just in case you’re wondering) and “welcomed” him to America and to “the real world of Virginia.” The “macaca” in question – S. R. Sidarth, is an American of Indian descent, born and raised in bloody Virginia. He even introduced himself to Allen a few days before. Of course, he was the only dark-skinned fella in the crowd, so that means that he “must” have been foreign, and quite possibly a monkey (macaca is derived from macacque) as well.
There has been enough outrage and gossip over this one already, but I just love this little interpretation of Allen’s “apology” that I found here.
Incidentally, when I was twelve and traveling by myself, I got seated next to a middle-aged woman on a plane bound for New York. When I asked her, out of a sense of mid-flight boredom, if she was going home, she said yes, then proceeded to launch into a tirade about how she really didn’t feel that New York was home anymore because of all the “foreigners” moving in around the place. There was a pause, and I said, “oh, I’m from Ukraine.” She looked taken aback for about a second, before snapping right to it,
“Welcome to America, great to you have you here. Don’t forget to bring a hundred of your cousins while you’re at it. Don’t mind us. We’re only the natives.”
It’s seems kind of sad and demented that she would choose to pour out her bile on a dorky-looking twelve-year old, but hey, at least she’s a good testament against Salon’s assumption that it’s the Southern Billy-Bobs who are the only rah-rah racists out there.