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'It was a vote against the race card'
November 13, 2006 18:07 IST
S R Sidarth, the man at the recieving end of a 'racial slur' from Republican candidate Goerge Allen in Virginia in the runup to the US Senate election, does not hald any rancour about the incident.
Writing on the incident in The Washington Post, Sidarth, a senior at the University of Virginia and a volunteer for Democratic Senate candidate Jim Webb, however says, 'The politics of division just don't work anymore. Nothing made me happier on election night than finding out the results from Dickenson County, where Allen and I had our encounter. Webb won there, in what I can only hope was a vote to deal the race card out of American politics once and for all.'
Sidarth came into the limelight after Allen called him a 'macaca' on the campaign trail. Sidarth was tracking Allen's campaign tour on behalf of Webb. On August 11, at a campaign stop Breaks Interstate Park, located on the Kentucky border Allen singled out Sidarth and called out to him, 'Hey, macaca or whatever his name is' and then said, 'welcome to America and the real world of Virginia'.
The comments raised an uproar and forced Allen to publicly apologise twice. But the damage was done, and Allen who was comfortably ahead slowly saw his lead dwindling. He finally lost a close race to Webb, that eventually cost the Republican Party control of the US Senate.
Sidarth writes that despite Allen's comments he was always treated well by Republican Party activists. 'Allen's actions that day stood out because they were not representative of how I was treated while traveling around the state. Everywhere I went, though I was identifiably working on behalf of Allen's opponent, people treated me with dignity, respect and kindness. I cannot recall one event where food was served and I was not invited to join in the meal. In southwest Virginia, hospitality toward me was at a high point,' he says.
'Even after Allen's comments highlighted my outsider status, I was not allowed to depart without eating, because as one woman put it, 'Political differences are set aside at the dinner table'. In the same spirit, I was given accurate directions to Allen's next event,' he writes..
'After Allen's remarks, my heritage suddenly became a matter of widespread interest. I am proud to be a second-generation Indian American and a practicing Hindu. My parents were born and raised in India and immigrated here more than 25 years ago; I have known no home other than Northern Virginia,' he writes in the Post column.
'The larger question that this experience brings up is: How far has society progressed on the issues of race and openness? By 2050, according to most projections, the United States will be a minority-majority nation. But the fact that Allen believed I was an immigrant, when in fact I am a native Virginian, underlines the problems our society still faces,' he wrote.