Nobody is laughing, except Kamala Harris.
By Sujeet Rajan
NEW YORK: Most expect the Democrat primaries to replace California’s retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer to be a cakewalk for the state’s Attorney General Kamala Harris.
Now, Rep. Loretta Sanchez, who was expected to be the biggest challenger to Harris, has virtually done an ‘George Allen Act’ and ensured that she is reminded of an ignominy for the rest of her political career: a racist slight to the Indian American community.
In 2006, the then Sen. George Allen (R-Virginia), who was considered a shoo-in for re-election, and many considered him a strong future presidential candidate, made one of the biggest hara-kiri seen in American politics, through casual banter and an even bigger smile at that.
Noticing a young Indian American man in the crowd, S R Sidarth, who was taking a video of his speech for Allen’s Democrat opponent Jim Webb, Allen hailed him as ‘macaca’ – which was a term used by European colonists pejoratively against native Africans, and also was used for a genus of monkeys.
“Let’s give a welcome to macaca, here,” Allen said. “Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia.”
Although Allen apologized after the incident occurred, and said he didn’t know the meaning of the word he uttered, and didn’t mean it disparagingly, the damage was done. He quickly started to slip in polls. The voters of Virginia, a red state, never forgave Allen for insulting their guest, despite him being of color and an Indian American.
Allen ultimately lost the polls to Webb.
Now, another racial gaffe insulting Indian Americans, this time from Sanchez, is a rival to that infamy of Allen – made that too at a large Indian American gathering in California. And she has managed to irk the Native Americans too.
The incident, which was caught on cell phone video, shows Sanchez letting out a stereotypical Native American “war cry” for a couple of seconds over the weekend at the California Democratic Party convention in Anaheim.
Sanchez’ act shocked the desis in the audience. She later offered this lame explanation and an apology, to assuage the feelings of Native Americans: “And they know what many of you don’t know — that like so many Mexican Americans, I am proudly Native American on my mother’s side.”
She also tried hard to rationalize, with this thrown in too as a salve for wounded egos of the rich desis who had turned out: “I’m going to his office, thinkin’ that I’m gonna go meet with woo-woo-woo-woo, right? ‘Cause he said ‘Indian American,'” she said, using the gesture to try to discern between Indian Americans — with ancestry from India’s subcontinent — and Native Americans, reported CNN.
Well, Congresswoman Sanchez, wait till the primaries. You will see how good Indian Americans are at recognizing you.
(Sujeet Rajan is the Editor-in-Chief of The American Bazaar)