Sabato clarifies remarks, confusion spreads on Allen’s alleged use of the “n” word

I blogged on Monday about comments made by respected UVA professor and political analyst Larry Sabato on Hardball with Chris Matthews regarding the allegations that Senator George Allen supposedly used the “n” word back in his college days and some in the 80s as well. Salon first reported the allegations, quoting three sources, and Sabato’s comments came later. At first, he wouldn’t say how he knew that Allen allegedly said the word, leading to speculation that he’d personally heard Allen use the term when they both attended UVA at the same time, but today he’s clarified:

LOUISA, Va. — One of Virginia’s best-known political analysts said Tuesday that he had never personally heard Sen. George Allen use racial epithets, but insisted that claims by former Allen football teammates and acquaintances are valid.

Larry J. Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, said in an e-mail to The Associated Press, “I didn’t personally hear GFA (Allen’s initials) say the n-word.

“My conclusion is based on the very credible testimony I have heard for weeks, mainly from people I personally know and knew in the ’70s,” Sabato wrote.

Other claims being made by Dr. Ken Shelton, who played football with Allen while at UVA and was one of the sources for the original “n” word allegation, are also being called into question, like the ‘severed deer head stuck in a black family’s mailbox’ story. From that same article:

Also in interviews with the AP and late Sunday, Shelton claimed that on a hunting trip to Louisa County in 1973 or 1974, Allen stuffed the severed head of a female deer into the oversized mailbox of a black household near Bumpass, Va., 40 miles east of the university.


Two Louisa County sheriff’s deputies who were on the force in the early ’70s said in interviews Tuesday that they recall no complaints about severed animal heads.

Retired Lt. Robert Rigsby said he was in charge of investigations in the early ’70s, and any such report would have gone through him.

“I think that’s a myth,” Rigsby said.

Another veteran officer, Deputy William Seay, also could recall no such incident.

Authorities said Tuesday they did not know if records from so long ago would be preserved.

A search of Louisa County’s weekly newspaper, The Central Virginian, for the years 1972 through 1974 yielded no account of a severed animal head being discovered in a mailbox during the months that traditionally constitute deer season, October through January.

Read more about the discrepancy on that story here.

This is turning more and more into a he said/she said type argument, with everything alleged being based entirely on hearsay, so it’s hard to know what to believe. I shold also note that the Nation magazine (a partisan publication) reported a few weeks ago that Allen was at one time affiliated with the Council of Conservative Citizens, which is designated as a “hate group” (and is looked upon by most people as a white supremacist group masquerading as a state’s rights group) by the Southern Poverty Law Center. It’s not clear whether or not Allen knew about the white surpremacist tendencies of the group, as the Nation article relies on the claims of CCC founder Gordon Baum in discussing how they became affiliated. In the meantime, Jim Webb is no doubt sitting at campaign headquarters enjoying his rise in the polls over unsubstantiated rumors of things Allen may or may not have said, this after the story of S.R. Sidarth, the “victim” in the macaca incident, was milked for all it was worth by the Washington Post (the Post continued to carry the water for Webb with this three page story questioning Allen’s Jewish heritage).

In the end, what this is all going to boil down to is who you believe. Take a look at Allen’s voting record in the Senate, what he did as Governor of Virginia, and as a member of the House of Representatives – that’s what this should be about: Allen’s record as an elected official. As I said on my interview with Allman and Smash yesterday I don’t feel that what Allen allegedly said 30 years ago is relevant, because I’ve seen no evidence in his time served as an elected official that he’s shown racist tendencies. I also don’t think he’d get the endorsement of a black Democratic Virginia state lawmaker if he was a racist.

It should be noted that Webb himself has been questioned on whether or not he’s used the “n” word in his lifetime and was a bit shifty in his answer:

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. – Democratic Senate challenger Jim Webb declined to say definitively Tuesday whether he had ever used a common derogatory term to describe blacks, stepping carefully after watching his campaign rival confront charges of racism.

“I don’t think that there’s anyone who grew up around the South that hasn’t had the word pass through their lips at one time or another in their life” Webb told reporters.

Speak for yourself, pal. But I can see his point – especially depending on your age, and along with that if you’ve lived in the South your whole life, you’ve either used the word or been around someone who has. So even if Allen supposedly used the term in the 70s and early 80s, who is to say he has the same feelings today? Times change and so do people. Unless you’re John Kerry, and you feel essentially the same way about the US going to war under the directive of the UN now as you did in the 70s. Again, nothing in Allen’s record indicates he’s harboring secret tendencies of making black people subservient to the white man. Judge him by what he’s done in office while taking media reports on what he’s alleged to have said with a grain of salt. Because as we’ve learned before, what you read in the media is often over-hyped, over-sensationalized, and is not always what it appears to be.

Update I: A few days ago, Justin Rood at the TPMmuckaker blog (a liberal blog, I should note) did an interview with CCC founder Gordon Baum and asked him about that ten year old picture and his opinion on Allen. Rood writes of the interview:

I reached Mr. Baum at the CCC headquarters in St. Louis, Mo. Has your organization rethought its position on Sen. Allen? I asked him.


“We don’t have a position on anybody’s candidacy. We’re a 501c4 [nonprofit]. We don’t endorse candidates,” Baum told me. However, “We’ve got three chapters in Virginia, and I’ve never heard any of them speak too fondly of Mr. Allen,” he said. “Currently our biggest issue is immigration, and I think he’s more in Georgie Bush’s camp than ours. . . . He’s not on our side.”

What about that fateful 10-year-old picture with you and Allen? Did you support him then? “To be quite frank with you. . . we didn’t know him and he didn’t know us, and we had the picture run in our newspaper,” Baum replied. “Our folks have never supported him.”

The “relationship” between Allen and Baum/the CCC doesn’t sound as chummy as the Nation article makes it out to be, does it?

I should have known not to trust Nation magazine, especially considering the fact that it equated Allen’s support for state’s rights and affiliation with certain Confederate groups to being racist and, living in the South all my life, I can assure you that a fondness for the Confederacy and state’s rights does not necessarily equate to making someone a racist. That is a myth the media has propagated over the years, in a further effort to paint Southern conservatives as racists.

Update II: MK Ham is all over this story, as is Dean Barnett.

Update III: Webb is not doing as well in the polls as I initially thought he was. Hmmm … (Hat tip: AJ Strata)

Update IV: Wow – The Friends of Allen blog has a very comprehensive post that has links galore which explore more in depth the charges against Allen, and who is making them. Read it all.


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