Following Questionable "Macaque" Comment, Allen Offers Non-Apology
Sen. George Allen (R-VA) offered a non-apology to a man of Indian descent who was tracking the Republican's re-election campaign for Democratic challenger Jim Webb.
S.R. Sidarth said he felt Allen was singling him out because of his race when the senator called him "Macaque" during a GOP rally Friday at Breaks, Va., near the Kentucky border. “This fellow here, over here with the yellow shirt, Macaque, or whatever his name is, he’s with my opponent," Allen said.
"In no way was it meant to demean him, and I'm sorry if he was offended," Allen said in a telephone interview with the Associated Press.
Why is this a non-apology? Break down the sentence:
"In no way was it meant to demean him ..." equals "I did nothing wrong."
"and I'm sorry if he was offended" equals "He's the one with a problem."
It's similar to the non-apology provided last month by the spokesman for another potential 2008 Republican presidential candidate, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
After using the term "tar baby" to describe the troubled Big Dig construction project in Boston, Romney's spokesman said that Romney "was unaware that some people find the term objectionable and he's sorry if anyone's offended."
Again, consider the sentence construction:
"was unaware that some people find the term objectionable ..." equals "I did nothing wrong."
"and he's sorry if anyone's offended" equals "They're the one with a problem."
It's as if prominent Republicans all read the same guidebook on how to look like your apologizing, without actually apologizing.
Romney should have known that some people find "tar baby" objectionable, because White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, at his first press conference in May, raised eyebrows for using the same term.
Similarly, for Allen, the word "Macaque" was not likely gibberish, even though he told the Associated Press that the name was "just made up." (It's an easy excuse, because many news reports spelled the slur "macaca" -- a species of Asian monkeys, which if meant by Allen, would be a worse slur. Some media suggested it was a nonsense term. The Daily Show With Jon Stewart last night had a bit in which correspondent Rob Corddry joked he was from Macaca, which he later revealed was near "Youpeepee.")
But it's a little hard to believe that Allen picked the slur out of the air. As The New Republic reported: "Not only is Macaque apparently a French slur used to describe North Africans, Allen would have good reason to know it is. His mother is French Tunisian (yeah, that's in North Africa), and Allen speaks French."
The story will no doubt quickly die in the press, unless Americans of Macaquen descent hire a good lobbying firm. But it says a lot about Allen.