Friday, April 25, 2008


SF Gate:

McCain Criticized for Slur
He says he'll keep using term for ex-captors in Vietnam

Arizona Sen. John McCain refused to apologize yesterday for his use of a racial slur to condemn the North Vietnamese prison guards who tortured and held him captive during the war.

"I hate the gooks," McCain said yesterday in response to a question from reporters aboard his campaign bus. "I will hate them as long as I live."

McCain, a former Navy pilot who spent five years in a Vietnamese prisoner of war camp, was questioned about the language because of a story last month in the Nation magazine reporting his continued use of the slur.

Since then, reports of McCain's language have been circulating on Internet chat sites and e-mails among Asian Americans, many of whom find the the term offensive and inappropriate for an elected official.

McCain's appeal to voters has been as a wartime hero and a feisty politician who speaks his mind and damns the consequences. But his comments on the eve of the key South Carolina primary show the candidate's vaunted "straight talk" in another light.

"The use of a racist slur can't be acceptable for any national leader, regardless of his background," said Diane Chin, executive director of the San Francisco-based Chinese for Affirmative Action. "For someone running for president not to recognize the power of words is a problem."

While McCain's words may have little effect in conservative South Carolina, where few Asian Americans live, they could come back to haunt him in other states.

"Historically, straight talkers who say things off the top of their heads eventually hang themselves with those sorts of remarks," said Bruce Cain, a political scientist at the University of California at Berkeley.

"While it might not hurt him now, Democrats are not going to have any hesitation about using this stuff to string him up later."

Will it? I'm not so sure.

When Jesse Jackson stupidly said "Hymietown" years ago, his career as a presidential candidate was over. But no matter what McCain says or does, it doesn't hurt him. Remember Mr. Straight Talk Empress singing "Bomb Bomb Bomb, Bomb Bomb Iran"? I guess some words are more offensive than others.

If I'm not careful, this non-controversy could make me bitter.

(The graphic is by ohluis111539 from Deviant ART)