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Republican Senator apologises for racial slur, again

By Sridhar Krishnaswami in Washington, DC
September 18, 2006 11:33 IST

A Republican Senator from Virginia, who was caught in a controversy for his offensive comments against a young Indian-American political activist, has said his utterances were a mistake and that there was no racial intent behind it.

George Allen said during a debate on Sunday that he has repeatedly apologised for referring to the young activist S R Sidarth as macaca at an August 11 campaign rally.

Allen argued that he just uttered macaca not knowing what that word was or the fact that it was taken to be a racial slur in many quarters.

"I made a mistake. I said things thoughtlessly. I've apologised for it, as well I should. But there was no racial or ethnic intent to slur anyone. If I had any idea that that word, to some people in some parts of the world, was an insult, I would never do it, because it's contrary to what I believe in and who I am," Allen said.

The Republican leader was debating his political opponent Jim Webb running on the Democratic ticket for the November 7 Congressional elections when the controversy involving his utterances came up as one of the many issues. Asked where the word macaca came from, Allen said, "It's just made up... It's just made up, a made-up word. Never heard of it before."

At the rally at Breaks Interstate Park on August 11, Allen had said, "Let's give a welcome to macaca, here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia." 

Allen was asked why welcome Sidarth to 'America; welcome to the real Virginia' since the Indian-American was born in Virginia.

"Because he was the cameraman for Jim Webb. He was following us around all over the state. And we were going to small towns and rural areas. So, since my opponent was out in Hollywood raising money that week, I was talking about Virginia values.

"And so the point was, as you're talking to the cameraman, to talk to Webb, to say, 'Hey, here's… welcome to the real world of Virginia,' as opposed to Hollywood, which is a world of make-believe," Allen replied.
Sridhar Krishnaswami in Washington, DC
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