George Allen’s rampant racism: A long, sordid history

In 1984, I worked as a contract field consultant for the National Republican Congressional Committee and also as a writer for the Voices for Victory Program in the Reagan-Bush Presidential campaign.

During that time, I attended a meeting of GOP political operatives in Richmond, Virginia. Among those present was a young delegate, George Allen, son of the legendary Washington Redskins coach.

At a cocktail party that followed our meeting, Allen huddled with some other Virginia politicos and GOP operatives and discussed the upcoming Presidential election as well as a field of Democratic candidates that, at the time, featured civil rights activist Jesse Jackson.

"You mark my words," Allen said. "Jesse Jackson can’t win in Virginia. Hell, he’s so far-out that even the niggers won’t vote for him."

A few shuffled their feet and looked away when Allen issued his racial slur. Others laughed. While Allen may have scored as a first-class bigot he failed as a prognosticator. Jackson carried the Virginia Democratic Presidential primary in 1984.

That was my first encounter with a racist named George Allen. Unfortunately, it would not be my last.

In 1991, while serving as Vice President for Political Programs for The National Association of Realtors, I attended a GOP fundraiser where Allen, then running in a special election for the U.S. House of Representatives, was one of the featured guests.

As a representative of the nation’s largest trade association and heading up what was then the country’s largest political action committee, I was often cornered by politicians wanting contributions.  George Allen was no exception.

"I need your help and support," he said. "Virginia is an old-fashioned state with traditional ideas. Just because we’ve got a black face in the governor’s mansion doesn’t mean the niggers are taking over."  Doug Wilder, America’s first African American Governor, had taken office in Richmond a year earlier.

Some in the group laughed. I walked away. I don’t like racists. Against my recommendations, the Realtors PAC voted to support Allen. I gladly left the association as part of reorganization the following year.

During my next 12 years in Washington, I would run across Allen at one event or another. I tried to stay away from him. I didn’t like him (and still don’t) but all too often found myself nearby when he issued a long string of racial epithets, ethnic slurs and jokes that would qualify as racial harassment in any workplace.

It was not unusual to hear racial slurs at gatherings of Republicans. Many GOP events are all-white. Allen, and others, would call Arabs "rag heads," Afro-Americans "niggers"  and homosexuals "fags" or "queers" as part of their normal conversation. They would laugh at each other’s racist jokes. When Allen and another well-known Senate Republican racist, Montana’s Conrad Burns, got together the slurs would fly like confetti through the air.

So it comes as no surprise to me that Allen is in trouble again for his rampant racism. His incredible slurring of a native Virginian of Indian ancestry at a campaign rally is just the latest example of his routine and callous bigotry.

Now Dr. Ken Shelton, a radiologist in Hendersonville, N.C., and a football teammate of Allen at the University of Virginia, says in Salon that the Virginia Senator who wants to be President frequently called black people "niggers" and once stuffed the severed head of a deer into a black household’s oversized mail box. Salon says two other former football players at Virginia back Shelton’s story but did not name them.

Christopher Taylor, an anthropology professor at the Birmingham campus of the University of Alabama, was a graduate student at UVa in the 1980s and told  The New York Times and The New Republic he heard Allen comment about some turtles in a pond and say that "around here, only niggers eat ’em."

Shelton says Allen only used racial slurs when in the company of others whites at UVa. That’s what I found true about Allen over the years. In all-white GOP enclaves, he would let his hair down because he felt safe with others who share his racial bigotry. There’s an unspoken rule that if you want to continue to work in Washington you protect those in power and don’t talk about their dirty little secrets. I no longer work there and am ahsamed that I was involved with, and helped protect the secrets of, those who share such beliefs. Racism and homophobia  run  roughshod through the Republican Party and are among the reasons I got out of politics and returned to journalism.

Allen Monday issued a denial, claiming he has never used such slurs.

"I don’t ever remember ever using that word," Allen said in a carefully-staged photo op that included black pastors from the Richmond area. "That word was not a part of my vocabulary. It wasn’t then. It hasn’t been since then. And it is not now. It is not who I was and is not who I am."

He’s a liar. Such words have long been part of Allen’s vocabulary. He’s used them often and I, and too many others, have heard him. I would swear to that under oath.

Among the others is noted University of Virginia political scientist and respected commentator Larry Sabato who said Allen used the racial slur in the 1970s.

"The fact is he did use the n-word, whether he’s denying it or not," Sabato told MNBC’s Chris Matthews on Hardball.

The fact is George Allen is a racist, a bigot and a despicable miscreant unfit to hold any elected office. Sadly, he is not the only one found in the halls of power in Washington.

(Updated September 26 at 4:26 a.m. to include new  information)

Comments

  1. m kelly

    I was working a campaign literature drop for Webb the other at a magnate school. Most of the students in this school are of Indian, Middle Eastern, or Asian descent. A man, he appeared to be Indian, came up and asked, “Do you have anything for macacas?” And I saw a bumper sticker today: Macacas for Webb.

    Allen has become an object of ridicule. Not easy to win election as a senator when you is ridiculed in such a manner.

  2. Kent Shaw

    And, Ty Williamson wrote:

    P.S.-Doug, you care to comment on the story going around that you used to be a Democrat bag man and ran afoul with Republicans?

    Mr. Williamson, you are very close to legal libel here. Cite your source if you are going to imply this kind of accusation.

  3. Kent Shaw

    Ward Smythe said:

    I worked the campaigns in Virginia in 1984 and know the people who worked with the Senator on his first Congressional race. In addition I know a lot of his closest personal advisors. You’re lying.

    And I say, yeah sure, Ward, and I bet that some of your and Allen’s best friends are black, too, eh?

  4. Schmedlap

    Let’s face it, Ward, Billy Bob and Ty, are perfect examples of True Believers. If George Allen, George Bush, et al, were to defecate on these True Believers’ dinner plates, they would devour it and swear it was filet mignon.

    PS. Sorry to be so gross but that is the only way I can adequately describe these brain-washed Southern Strategy SOBs(shitheads?).

  5. K-Man

    All the discussion about Macaca Allen’s racist words and actions only serve to energize racist white people and increase the voter turnout for him. Welcome to America and it southern racist behavior – called the rethugilican southern strategy; believe me, I lived through the racist behavior of white people in the 60’s and 70’s (not mention 80′, 90’s on and on). We endured some of the nastiest behavior you could imagine. Macaca Allen is hypocrite and liar. It is time for all good people to stand for what is right and fair.

  6. Nick

    Why do people even bother to vote for a low life lying white trash guy like Allen, oh maybe they don’t but having Diebold voting machines at the polls really help like they did for another low life in Ohio.

  7. sharon

    I know he did too. My college roommate’s brother went to law school with him. The word is definitely a part of his vocabulary.

  8. notarepublicananymore

    I am sorry I voted for this dirtbag back in 2000. Jim Webb is a true hero and a fine America and if we Virginians re-elect Allen we deserve the government we get. I mean, the guy’s own sister has told how he tormented her more than just the usual brother teasing!

  9. Bluemom

    I remember back in 2000 hearing about the confederate flag lapel pin and a graffiti incident in high school (in California) where Allen and friends spray painted the N-word. I don’t know if it could be substantiated, which may be why the Robb campaign never used it. Considering that two of the sources in the Salon article were afraid of retaliation from Allen, it’s not surprising that folks don’t want to go public with this kind of information.

  10. Scott Pickus

    Doug:

    Having worked on the French Slaughter congressional campaign out of an office located in the basement of George Allen’s law office in Charlottesville, I find your recollections, as well as those of Larry Sabato and Allen’s former teammate fully consonant with my experiences as a grass roots volunteer in 1984.

    After that election was over, I never went back to the Republicans nor to politics…..I miss the latter.

  11. Jim H

    I’m a Democrat. When this whole thing began, I thought that the macaca incident was revealing of a not-very-nice character, but that it would end, and they’d get on to debating the issues. But the accusations against Allen are coming from all kinds of places, even from Larry Sabato. All kinds of people who, for instance, shut up about George W’s early shenanigans because he must have been fun to party with, aren’t shutting up about this guy. They’re purposely stepping forward and saying what they know. Nobody is stepping forward to help him out. And each time a new accusation comes out, he denies it, and then it’s proven true, and he concedes it. Not a good thing for any politician.

    And Ty, and Billy Bob, calling Doug a liar, and blaming all this on the left-wingers, just isn’t working. It makes you look in total denial. It’s not attractive. It’s ugly.

  12. Joe Lawrence

    Orwell was prescient. ‘Winston Smith’ is alive, well and firmly implanted in the Bush gang of historical revisionists, including ‘Billy Bob’ and ‘Ward.’

    I am 65 now, originally from Kentucky, and I can say without fear of ANY truthful contradiction that “back in the day” the use of the N word was universal throughout the South. We whites used it, the blacks used it…and it was no big deal then, and such words were the more often bandied about in a teasing, good-hearted manner, notwithstanding the KKK. In more recent times, it has become an epithet hurled about by the most racist among us, and good people on all sides have refrained from its usage, as have I.

    To claim otherwise makes the claimant look like a stupid ‘cracker.’

    Though I am a Republican of long standing, I will – immediately following this Fall’s elections – re-register as an Indy, because America has come to the point where NEITHER major party even BEGINS to represent the ordinary citizen, though it is still generally true that the GOP is “for” the top 5%, while the Dems are “for” the bottom 70%, and I find myself in the remaining 25%.

    Thanks be to God Almighty for folks like Doug Thompson, whom it would be my great honor to meet – if I ever make my oft-planned motorcycle trip to the Blue Ridge Parkway.

  13. EUAS writes:

    I think that it is great that you are willing to “swear under oath” to your Allen remembrances. Have you taken this to the mainstream media? Have you taken this to either Jackson or Wilder? In light of everything that has come out about Allen, I find it imperative that you do so. I, too, am a Republican who is absolutely disgusted by Allen and by the political leadership of our country which has totally avoided this issue. Is there a way to contact you?

    I have not written a lot about what I saw and heard during my days on the political side of the fence in Washington. I intend to do more. It’s not my job to take anything to the “mainstream” media or to serve as a shill for any political campaign or cause. I am reporting it here, on a political news web site that has been on the Internet since 1994, and I will continue to report what I know and can learn for as long as I can. I’ll leave the TV appearances to Larry Sabato, who confirms Allen’s past use of racial slurs. He’s better on the tube. It’s my job to report the news, not be the news.

    –Doug

  14. K.

    Ward Smythe you have your head in the sand and will support your repuke party til death – to hell with their numerous disasters! (Could have prevented 9-11 but didn’t even try to, started Iraq war from lies, Katrina-“Heck of a job Brownie”, social security privitization – ALMOST, and the list is too long to cover here!)
    George Allens VERY OWN SISTER, JENNIFER ALLEN, has NOTHING GOOD TO SAY ABOUT HER VIOLENT, NASTY, BIGOTED BROTHER!! Do you know him better than his own sister does? I think not.

  15. EUAS

    For Doug Thompson:

    I think that it is great that you are willing to “swear under oath” to your Allen remembrances. Have you taken this to the mainstream media? Have you taken this to either Jackson or Wilder? In light of everything that has come out about Allen, I find it imperative that you do so. I, too, am a Republican who is absolutely disgusted by Allen and by the political leadership of our country which has totally avoided this issue. Is there a way to contact you?

  16. John Landry

    Doug, like you I saw George Allen for what he was. I was invited to a fundraiser in Northern Virginia during his run for governor. The host asked some of us to stay behind after the crowd left. The men gathered in the den, smoked cigars and talked politics. When someone asked Allen if he could win he laughed and said something like “sure, as long as enough real Virginians vote to offset the nigger vote.”

    I didn’t contribute to Allen and didn’t vote for him. I left Virginia some years ago and am glad to be away from a political curture that supports people like him.

  17. liz

    I thank God for allowing the truth about this wretched human being to come to light before Americans rolled over in their sleep and voted for him. Lots of people are way over this racism stuff, obviously just not Republicans

  18. Wobba

    First of all, Doug isn’t in the business of orchestrating left wing smear campaigns, because he’s not in the left wing. Most of those fellas haven’t forgiven him for ragging on their golden boy (Clinton) back when he was in office.

    Second, it’s one thing to follow a juicy but ultimately untrue story because you were lazy on your fact-checking (which Doug has done before and has admitted to doing). It’s quite another to just make stuff up and lie outright. Doug said he’d testify under oath that he’d heard Allen use those racist words. Considering what Allen’s already done (fortunately on video this time) there is no reason not to believe it. But more importantly Doug has basically put the whole of his moral, ethical and journalistic integrity on the line in making this statement. If he were caught just plain lying through his teeth nobody would ever believe anything he said again. Doug isn’t that stupid.

    We already know Allen is a racist from the “macaca” incident; this is just the icing on the cake. Doug isn’t dumb enough to stake his last shred of believability on a lie that does nothing other than reiterate something we already know.

    Given the facts in evidence, I see no reason not to believe him.

  19. LizB and Peter,

    I have no idea what Doug’s motivation is for making this up. But I don’t believe him.

    George Allen has been in the public eye for nearly 25 years. Why now?

    You don’t seriously expect me to believe that Mary Sue Terry and Chuck Robb couldn’t have “found” these people, do you?

    Please, catch a clue.

    This is a left wing orchestrated smear campaign. Nothing more.

    Beats me why Doug drank the kool-aid, but he did.

  20. Vic in Virginia

    As a Virginian of Indian descent I am waiting to see how the ethnic and minority supporters of the GOP and Senator Allen (including many Asian-Americans and some African-Americans in Northern Virginia) will react. If they stick by their man they are “Macacas for Allen”

  21. Peter Chewning

    Ward, I think you were a little hard on the Beaver.

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist because you obviously believe in fairy tales like the 1950s.