Monday, August 14, 2006

Monkey Business

If I called you "Macaca," would you have any idea what I was talking about?

From the Washington Post:

"This fellow here over here with the yellow shirt, Macaca, or whatever his name is. He's with my opponent. He's following us around everywhere. And it's just great. We're going to places all over Virginia, and he's having it on film and its great to have you here and you show it to your opponent because he's never been there and probably will never come."

Thanks to a few sites, allow me to educate you on the meaning of "Macaca/Macaque."

ma·caque (n.):

Any of several short-tailed monkeys of the genus Macaca of southeast Asia, Japan, Gibraltar, and northern Africa.

ma·ca·co -ca (spanish) (adj.): ugly, misshapen. Puerto Rico: foolish, silly. Mexico: bogeyman.

This phrase is apparently very popular in Tunisia (where Allen's mother is from, according to the linked sites), Belgium, and French. It's the equivlalent of calling a black person a porch monkey.

Several people have commented that the use of "Macaca/Macaque" by Allen is not racist, because the word "could mean anything." I'm not sure that I follow this logic.

Are they saying that Allen could have simply made up a name on the spot, and that this name could be unintentionally similar to a slur? If that's the case, and Allen was simply making up an "ethnic" sounding name, how is that not racist again?


At 10:06 AM, Anonymous portia said...

Double-check the end of the story, there; it's Webb who was accused of anti-Semitism.

That said, George Felix Allen was governor when I lived in VA, and I haven't seen much to recommend him. I did always find it interesting that a guy from CA and Chicago would find such traction in Confederate imagery (the noose in the ficus is particularly delightful), but hey, I'm sure it's just his 'rebellious' nature.

At 12:02 PM, Blogger codemorse said...

but hey, I'm sure it's just his 'rebellious' nature.

Carefully cultivated through a team of image consultants, I'm sure.

And thanks for the heads up.

At 1:30 PM, Anonymous portia said...

If they're the same image gurus who suggest he 'stay the course' with the cowboy boots and spitoon-carrying, I think we're safe.

At 2:58 PM, Blogger codemorse said...



At 3:33 PM, Anonymous portia said...

Yeah, though he's known for using a styrofoam cup on the Senate floor and it's my understanding that he doesn't necessarily aim all that well when he's out and about.

Seriously, that bothers you more than the noose? ;)

At 4:20 PM, Blogger codemorse said...

It doesn't actually bother me at all.

If he wants to let-fly great chunks of wet tobacco, that's his right.

It's just wildly anachronistic to me to use an actual spitoon.

And speaking as a Yankee without much need for nooses, as a rule, I'm not sure what "the noose in the ficus" is, or how/why Allen likes that particular imagery.

Fill a clueless Northerner in?

At 5:19 PM, Anonymous portia said...

Allen has a long-documented history of fondness for Confederate imagery. Nooses hanging from trees (though they be 'office trees,' ficus in this case) are an explicit reference to lynching. He's been less than forthcoming about WHY he likes this imagery so, except that it has (of course) 'nothing to do with racism.'

At 6:07 PM, Blogger codemorse said...

Well, color me creepified.


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