Allen: The Transcript
Allen’s campaign manager told the Forward that it was the reporter at the debate, Peggy Fox, who was the one making it sound like being Jewish was a bad thing. Judge for yourself (transcript provided by Team Allen)…
Reporter: Senator Allen you have said several times that you made up the word macaca when referring to S.R. Sidharth, a young man of Indian heritage born and raised in Fairfax County, who attends your alma mater. But the word is a racial slur in French-influenced African nations, most notably Tunisia. Your mother is Tunisian. Are you sure you had never heard the word and if you were just making up a name to call Sidharth, why not just call him John something that rather than something that sounds derogatory. Was it because he looked different?
Senator Allen: I hope you are not trying to bring my mother into this matter. I have said and I will say it once again. I made a mistake. It was a thoughtless moment. I have apologized for it as well I should. I have never heard that word before from my mother or from anyone else. If I had any idea that in some parts of the world, for some cultures that this would be an insult, I would never use that word because that is not who I am. It is not how I was raised. It is not what I believe in. Whether it was from my father’s football teams where you have people from all different parts of the country and different backgrounds you don’t care about on a football team or sports teams what someone’s race or religion or ethnicity is. All you care about is whether they can help the team compete and succeed and that’s a meritocracy that we should aspire to in our country. And if there was one lesson that I learned more than anyone from anyone else it was my mother whose father was incarcerated by the Nazis in World War II and of all people in my life who told me about tolerance and not judging people by their religious beliefs or their ethnicity or their race, it is my mother and so I made that mistake. I will of course do better. I’m sorry I said it. Nonetheless, there was no intent whatsoever to insult that young man or anyone else. It is not who I am and that is why by the way, State Senator Benny Lambert an African American, a Democrat endorsed me last week. Because he knows my record in making sure this is a land of opportunity for all and especially helping out minority serving institutions.
Reporter: May I ask a follow up to that? Uh following the macaca episode the Jewish press published stories that appeared on the internet that explored your possible Jewish ancestry on your mother’s side. You’ve been quoted as saying your mother is not Jewish but it has been reported that her father, your grandfather, Felix whom you were given your middle name for was Jewish. Um could you please tell us whether your forbearers include Jews and if so at which point Jewish identity might have ended.
Senator Allen: You know what I’m glad you all have that I’m glad you have that reaction. You know what our first freedom in our country was? Freedom of religion. Where people’s rights are not enhanced nor diminished on account of their religious beliefs. Thomas Jefferson was the author of that. As we try to stand up free and just society that’s the first pillar of a free and just society. And to be getting into what religion my mother is I don’t think is relevant. Whether one person believes in whatever their beliefs may be is not relevant and so I’d like to ask you, why is that relevant? my religion, Jim’s religion or the religious beliefs of anyone out here. (applause) My mother is French-Italian…
Senator Allen: … with a little Spanish blood in her. Uh and and I’ve been raised and she was as far as I know raised as a Christian but if you really need to get into it…
Reporter: Honesty, that’s all.
Senator Allen: Oh that’s just all that’s just all. Okay we need to get this country together and I respect your right to ask questions but let’s ask questions about issues that really matter to people here in Virginia. Such as how are we going to bring this country together, make us more secure, a land of opportunity for all and I’ll say one other thing, preserving our foundational values and one of those values is freedom of religion and not making aspersions about people because of their religious beliefs.