As evidenced by this week's gaffe by George Allen and subsequent criticism, this motif is in ascendency.
For those of you who have been in a coma this week, let me get you up to speed on Macaca-Gate. Senator George Allen of Virginia is often discussed as a possible presidential contender in 2008. This past week while on the campaign trail, Allen spoke to an audience and pointed to S.R. Sidarth. It seems that Sidarth is a college student working for Allen's Democratic opponent who has been shadowing the campaign presumably to document Allen's talking points and any missteps. Well, Sidarth hit the jackpot.
At the beginning of his speech Allen motions towards Sidarth and refers to him as "macaca". He then goes on to welcome Sidarth to America. And the best part of this is that Sidarth got this all on video. Yes, there is a God.
And so now we enter the "crazy like a fox" part of this discussion. Neither the blogosphere nor the mainstream media can figure out if this was just an asinine statement or was a cleverly calculated move to garner support from the good folks of Virginia (aka the "white folks of Virginia') at the expense of a foreigner. (or as the 'necks like say "fahr-ner")
Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post has decided to take the "crazy like a fox" route.
Okay, I'm willing to believe the senator is ignorant of primate taxonomy and Belgian slang -- he's all about good-ol'-boy bonhomie, not Renaissance-man erudition. I don't buy the rest of his explanation, though -- that he was trying to refer to Sidarth's haircut, which he thought was a mohawk. I also don't buy his claim that he meant no offense.
I think he was playing to the crowd by singling out the one person who didn't belong there, not because he was a spy from a rival campaign -- shadowing is standard campaign practice these days -- but because he looked "foreign" (my word, not his). I think he came up with "Macaca" as a kind of generic name for a foreigner who appeared to be from the Indian subcontinent, or someplace over there where people have dark skin and straight black hair. Why else would he add the "welcome to America" bit if not to emphasize Sidarth's apparent foreignness?
Sorry Eugene. I just don't see it that way. I think you are giving way too much credit to Allen.
I am going to go with the "Beavis and Butthead" explanation. See, I don't think that Allen was purposefully trying to denigrate Sidarth's ethnicity or appearance as a foreigner. I happen to think that at that moment, Allen morphed into a 13-year old Beavis who can only describe those he dislikes as "fart-knockers" and then falls on the floor in a spasm of laughter.