Quote: “Let’s give a welcome to Macaca, here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia.” Senator George Allen on his “Listening Tour.”
Figure of Speech: acyrologia (ak-y-ro-LO-gia), the disastrously wrong word.
S.R. Sidarth, an American citizen of Indian descent, graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School, senior at the University of Virginia, and worker for George Allen’s Democratic opponent, was aiming a video camera at the senator during a Republican rally. Sidarth was the only dark-skinned person there, apparently. So Allen naturally assumed he was a foreigner and gave him a playful, foreign-sounding name — which happens to be the genus of the macaque monkey.
The result is an acyrologia (“un-authoritative speech”), an embarrassing little figure that includes the malapropism.
What did Allen mean to say? Mulatto? Macarena? His staff claims he meant “mullet,” because Sidarth has an unusual haircut. Why, then, did Allen welcome Sidarth to America? Is there a more American haircut than a mullet?
Snappy Answer: “You mean, welcome to your planet?”