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September 27, 2006

George Allen, I'm looking at you


, originally uploaded by rougerouge.

It's really time for George Allen to drop out of the Virginia senate race.

Pillars of the community are accusing him of using unprintable racial slurs in the 1970s, and he keeps denying it.

Now, his former teammate says that Allen put a deer's head in a black family's mailbox:

Sabato's assertion came on the heels of accusations by Dr. Ken Shelton, a radiologist who was a tight end and wide receiver for the University of Virginia in the early 1970s when Allen was quarterback. He said Allen not only used the n-word frequently but also once stuffed a severed deer head into a black family's mailbox.


George Allen's racism was shocking white Virigians in the seventies:

Mr. Allen, a Virginia Republican whose re-election campaign has been knocked off balance by the accusations, said Monday that he did not remember ever using the term and that “it is absolutely false that that was ever part of my vocabulary.”

Mrs. Hawkins, who described herself as a rural Virginia housewife and an active Democrat, said in an interview Tuesday that she heard Mr. Allen use the slur repeatedly at a party on election night in 1976. She said Mr. Allen used the term while deprecating the intelligence of the black players on the Washington Redskins football team, which Mr. Allen’s father coached. Recalling remarks about its star running back, Larry Brown, Mrs. Hawkins said that Mr. Allen “started in effect bad-mouthing him, saying what a shiftless you-know-what” he was.

She said she remembered the conversation because she was a big fan of the team and was shocked. She said Mr. Allen’s statement on Monday was “just plain a lie.” [NYT]

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Mrs. Hawkins, who described herself as a rural Virginia housewife and an active Democrat


Win or lose Allen should never drop out over spurious nonsense like this. Politics of this order are irrefutable accusations brought up at the last minute. Should Clinton have withdrawn because he was accused of rape and misogyny?

When you engage in politics of smear you basically endorse a style of election politics were anything goes. This type of thing only encourages false accusations that can never be effectively disproved and allow for last minute campaign hi-jinks that disrail serious debate on the issues.

Well, Phantom, a Mr. Beam from Lynchburg who described himself as a Republican has come forward to confirm that the third person involved in the "deerhunter" episode, his college roommate at the time, definitely told him that such an incident took place, but Beam couldn't say that it was racially motivated.

And a former Republican party official from Charlottesville stated that Allen dismissed a group of Mexicans as "wetbacks" in his presence, after a local party meeting.

It's hard to believe that all of these recollections are categorically false.

As to Lindsay's point, I actually agree with Fitz -- Allen is the Republican candidate, and with the possible exception of an indictment, I don't think candidates should drop out of races even when new revelations prove that they really are assholes. He was nominated by his party and they should have to live with him.

I would generally agree with Fitz and Barbara if we were just talking about racial slurs in private three decades ago. But if this deer head thing checks out, that's racial terror. The guy was an adult (chronologically, anyway). Standards for US Senator may be low, but ....

It is very interesting that this is all coming out, and that it is all coming out now, in such a systemic way.

Let's see what else we learn between now and the election.

--

As someone has noted in Redstate "Being next to West Virginia, they know the Democrats don't mind keeping a former Klansman as their elder statesman in the Senate.

I don't believe this kind of libel will work as well in Virginia as it might in Michigan or California. Some may vote for Allen just in reaction to the libel."

There are a lot of possibilities.

1. If one thinks that it is libelous (as in shocking but false), then one might vote in sympathy to Allen.

2. If one thinks it true (by definition not libelous) but not a big deal, one was likely going to vote for Allen anyway.

But the real issue is, what will swing voters locted somewhere between the beltway and the outer bounds of Washington D.C. (exurbia) do? They voted for Kaine -- they were the difference in that election.

And in this election, the "military types" down in Hampton Rhodes area are also potentially in play. They love a man in a uniform, and by and large, they don't like overt racists. It's not good for military discipline.

Virginia is by no means an assuredly red state and it trends bluer in each election cycle.

"Shiftless"? Do people really say "shiftless"?

Its like seeing people mock African Americans with old blackface, shuffling Sambo stereotypes. Or hearing Mexicans described as "lazy". It is so dated it would be quaint if it weren't still actually used to hurt.

Indeed, it's hard to demand the resignation of a Senator for being a racist when Robert Byrd still holds his seat. Now I know you can argue that there's a difference because Byrd has apologized for his racist past whereas Allen is intent on denying it. Still, I've always found it an embarrassment to the Democratic Party that we have a former Klansman still sitting in one of the highest elected offices in the land. (Plus, Byrd's a pork barreller of the highest order, but I'll stay focused on his racist past).

Allen won't resign; he's too stupid to do so. Even if a thousand people come forward to say that they heard him say "nigger" or any other racial epithet, he STILL won't quit. He's just a dumb, mean-spirited, racist, ex-jock bully. I definitely believe he's a worse person than Byrd, but as long as Byrd stays then I know he won't be going anywhere unless the voters send him packing.

And for Christ's sake, would Robert Byrd please retire already!? That old coot is damn near 90. Jesus, is it too much to ask for him to make way for someone a little younger, like 70? And not a former Klansman!? Fuck!

Not that I'm a big fan of pork-barrel Byrd, but he's admitted his mistakes and apologized. Not to say that cuts it, but it's more than Allen has done. Saying macaca was a word he made up is a clear lie, and his initial reaction to the jewish mom question was to call it an accusation. Allen can't apologize, tho, because he can't call it a mistake of youth when he's still doing things that suggest his attitudes towards them big, scary Others may well not have changed.
As to whether he should drop out of the race, he won't. And I agree with those above, short of conviction of a felony, or at least an indictment, it's hard to argue that admittedly retrograde and flat-out wrong racial and religious views should disqualify someone from running for office. He is, after all, free to think hateful and wrong things.
The deer head thing does straddle the border, but I think it'd require an act of outright racial violence to clearly disqualify him. The real question is whether such an act is there still lurking in his past.

Robert Byrd is an albatross around the neck of the Democratic Party. He's an anachronism and an embarrassment and he should have resigned decades ago.

-- he's admitted his mistakes and apologized.--

Oh man, I dunno. It was only in 2001 that he made his " white nigger " comment. He's a strange weed.

Puerile racist shenanigans aside, I wonder if he had his deer tag properly validated, kept the sexual identity parts intact (this includes the head), and if he phone checked or brought the deer to a check station as per Virginia hunting regulations. Violating any part of hunting regulations implies poaching and is rotten form, besides being a legal offense.
Assholes like this give hunting an undeserved bad name.

You're more or less right about Byrd, but I think it brings up a concern I'm not sure has an easy answer. Outright racism has no part to play in political matters, of course. But people with biased racial and religious attitudes do, unfortunately, exist, and the quandary is that they're as entitled to representation as anyone else. The American Nazi Party is legal, and the precendent changing that would set scares me.
When a politician plays on racism it's clearly reprehensible, but demonizing that person or their views is counterproductive, I think. For one, if they're trying to benefit from racism calling them a racist only reinforces that "appeal", and makes sure all racists vote for that candidate. In an ideal world you don't want those votes, but they still count.
Furthermore, politicians don't make outright appeals to racism, they flirt with it in carefully considered ways that make it difficult to pin down as outright racist. I realize Allen's follies and Liebermann's race baiting are the most recent examples and don't prove my point, but look at the Willie Horton ads. To the "right" people those ads shouted "N*gg*r n*gg*r n*gg*r comin to getcha!!!", but the people siitting on the fence could tell themselves it was about crime. And a swing voter might not be an outright racist but still biased, in the sense that they don't hate the Other but still aren't sure about them nonwhites and nonchristians. Again, in an ideal world you wouldn't have to care about those votes, but, well...
I'm not at all saying Dems should play on race, or that Byrd having appeal to some for his past doesn't argue for his replacement. I guess what I'm saying is that all but the most blatant plays on race, like Allen's macaca remark or Trent Lott's words about Strom Thurmond, should be ignored, because sometimes calling out racism is playing into their hands. Racism is a virus, and politics I think the best thing to do isn't to demonize those who have it, but to try and trick them into helping you cure it. It'll take time and education to make this virus extinct, but most importantly, it'll take access to kid's minds, so that we can innoculate them. Antagonizing their parents won't help. I'm rambling, so I'll stop here.

cfrost, it's funny, I was just wondering whether Jim Webb's people are scouring the hunting licenses from the month and year in question. It wouldn't surprise me if the Smoking Gun beat them to it.

Does anyone know whether hunting licenses in Virginia are specific to a particular region, or whether they apply to the whole state for the duration of the license? (Please forgive my naivete regarding hunting licenses, I support hunting and fishing rights, but I've never tried the hunting part.)

Because if you could find Allen's license, or the licenses of the people who were supposedly with them, you could fan out along the major routes between his college and the hunting site.

You might be able to track down the family whose mailbox got stuffed, or someone who remembers the incident.

I don't think Allen or Byrd should resign/drop out. People get the government they deserve; if they're willing to vote for Robert "atheists should get out of the country" Byrd, all the power to them.

Hey Phantom, I thought you'd vanished after I asked you to back up the statements you attributed to Michael Moore. You never did reply to that one. I guess Phantoms can fade in and out.

I kind of hope that Allen stays in the "race" and keep on being himself for all the world to see. I want all the republicans to come out of the closet. I will support them in that.

As for Byrd, I'd rather be practical with a reformed devil that I know, than the republican candidate, who ever he/she/is.

I'd rather not support anyone who thinks atheists should get out of the country. There's a limit to my masochism.

The real shame here is that we aren't hearing cries from the Republican political hierarchy for Allen to drop out. At the rate that new and embarrassing revelations are forthcoming, he could be an albatross that comes with a lot of poltical downside for the GOP. But apparently they are too deeply entrenched in their culture of racism to give a shit...

When you get a deer tag in most states, you fill out a form with name & address which corresponds to a uniquely numbered tag. It varies from state to state, but the tag may be good for rifle, bow, or black powder or some combination. The tag may specify male or female, or it may be just a general deer tag. Hunting areas will be delineated and may be buck, doe, both, forked antler, or not. When you do get your deer, the tag will usually have some part that is separated or torn off so that one part goes with the deer and another with the hunter. Sometimes there’s just a tear-off or clip-off part and the deer needn’t be tagged. In any case, don’t be caught with a carcass and without a tag, and be absolutely sure you’re shooting what the regs permit within the permitted area. The clipped tag is mailed to the appropriate agency, and/or the agency may have check stations in the field where the tagged carcass is brought. Virginia apparently has a phone-in checking procedure option. I have no idea how long records are kept. Virginia hunting regs are here.
Carcasses are kept intact or field-dressed in a manner that permits identifying the sex of the deer and making sure that only one deer goes with the tag. Heads, as a rule, are not stuffed into mailboxes.

How is it that what Robert Byrd has done invalidates any criticism of what Allen has done and continues to do? I agree that Byrd is a political anachronism - even in a country ruled by conservative old white men for conservative old white men - but I still find it amazing that none of Allen's apologists can come up with anything to actually defend the guy apart from, "Well, you have a nigger-hater, too, we should be allowed one." If there is a reason to support's Allen's candidancy, let's hear that. Otherwise, you're defending a loathesome human being who's evidently been a loathesome human being for quite a while.

And to brad, I don't think you'll ever be able to change someone like a Trent Lott or a George Allen or any degree of hardcore racists. They're not willing to listen and it's not in their perceived benefit to do so, and it's simple as that. There's plenty of kids who know their parents are disgustingly racist (sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, etc.) but love them anyway, cause blood can wash away a lot of sin.

It's the twenty-first century and we, as a people, have mollycoddled these trogladytes for long enough. There's no since in trying to reason with them, just beat them.

I don't think Byrd invalidates any criticism of anything, except perhaps the ironclad seniority system of US government.

Byrd's valuable to his the people in his district simply because he's been around forever. So, the seniority system pits them against him and his district vs. every other Democrat in the country.

I want Byrd voted out in a primary challenge, but there's always there's the certainty that his successor will have less power than he does.

So, even when his potential successor is manifestly more (D/d)emocratic than he is, we're always faced with a coordination problem.

Maybe readers who are interested in political science can suggest reforms to undermine the influence of seniority without calling other important principles into question. I hope so. This isn't my area of expertise.

I didn't mean someone like Lott can be converted. But education does come into play in bias. Someone who's biased might be capable of learning otherwise, if reached in the right way, whereas an outright, hateful, racist is probably too far gone.
And my point, which got lost in my longwinded ramblings, was that racism in a political context isn't the same as in a societal context, and that we have to respond to, say, the Willie Horton ads differently than to a John Rocker. In some ways that obvious, but it isn't always obvious that the best way to respond to implicit appeals to racism is to ignore it. Racists do exist, and their votes count. Finding a way to siphon those votes (without being implicitly racist ourselves) would do real damage to the opposition. Apart from some of Byrd's supporters, racists vote republican. Fracturing that vote could also force them to make their racist appeals more explicit, leaving them with no wiggle room when called on it.

Maybe readers who are interested in political science can suggest reforms to undermine the influence of seniority without calling other important principles into question.

What other important principles are you talking about - the basic district-plurality system?

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