Dear Fellow Sea King…

allen-football.jpgI’m trying to figure out what’s going through Senator George Allen, Jr.’s mind — the Republican senator battling for re-election. 

What’s he trying to pull, denying he used racial epithets?  He knows he did it.  He’d be better off admitting it. He’ll have to eventually — but by then all his supporters who are working overtime claiming Allen is being “smeared” will realize he’s been hanging them out to dry.   

Do his campaign people really think they can convince voters this woman is lying?

Just six weeks before the congressional elections, Virginia’s incumbent senator, George Allen, is now facing more charges that he used racial slurs.

Pat Waring, 75, of Chesterton, Md., first brought her story to MSNBC when she contacted us in a direct phone call.  We then conducted a series of interviews.   Waring says that at a sports match in the late 1970’s, Allen repeatedly use the ‘n’ word to describe blacks.

“I just didn’t think in the late 70’s people would be so ugly and so overt about it and so public,” Waring said.

Waring says that in 1978, she and her then-husband, Robert Michael Schwartz, had just moved to Charlottesville, Va.  Friends from the time confirm that Schwartz was a Ph.d. candidate at the University of Virginia, an avid rugby player and the volunteer coach of the school’s rugby club team.

MSNBC has also confirmed Pat Waring worked in a doctor’s office and came to some of the rugby games.  Waring says there is one game, from either the fall of 1978 or the spring of 1979 that she will never forget.

“I heard to my left, the ‘n’ word, and I heard it again, and I looked around and heard it again,” she said.  “And there was this fellow sitting on the ground.  He was putting on red rugby shoes, it is seared in my brain, believe me. And he was kind of showing off I guess, but he was telling a story about something or other and in the story was a lot of ‘n’ words.  So, I got out of the bleacher and I went over and I said young man, I am the coach’s wife and if you don’t mind, would you please not use that word.  And he in essence told me to buzz off.”

Waring said when she learned the man using the slurs was George Allen, son of the Washington Redskins coach, she was “crestfallen.”

Republican cheerleaders are reacting to stories like this by calling them smears and throwing fits.  They raise questions about the timing of these accusations.  They claim his use of a Tunisian racial slur against a dark-skinned opposing campaign worker was purely coincidental, even though his mother was raised … in Tunisia!

Allen is doing them no favors by letting them defend him like this.  It happens to be true that, at least when he was young, George Allen, Jr. was a racist.  Or, to be extremely charitable, beyond what’s really reasonable, he was perfectly happy to stir up hatred for blacks by whites, and damn the consequences.

My story has been reported before, I think.  In 1969, I was 13 years old and a freshman at Palos Verdes High School.   One Friday morning in autumn, I arrived at school where the buses drop you off, and walked to my locker, a path that took me past the Multi-Purpose Room and then Senior Park, which has a bandstand at its western end. 

The walls of these structures and the rows of classrooms were white stucco.  Every wall was covered with black spray painted graffiti, well-known racial epithets blacks supposedly used to inflame whites back then, along with phrases like “Black Power,” and threats that “Whitey Will Die,” or words to that effect. 

As it happened, the PV Sea Kings varsity football team was in a conference with several teams from predominantly African-American schools, including Centenniel and Morningside.  I forget which one we were playing.  And as it happened, George Allen, Jr., the son of the popular, eccentric and hugely successful coach of the Los Angeles Rams, was our team’s quarterback.

The buzz around the school was that kids from the opposing school must’ve come onto campus overnight and sprayed this foul graffiti.  There was so much of it, it was overwhelming.  But I have to say, there was something bogus about the graffiti.  This was just a few months after the Manson family attacks, where the killers also left behind graffiti, in blood, that was supposed to suggest that blacks were responsible — which Manson hoped would trigger a race war.  But Manson’s graffiti seemed weirdly inauthentic — a white guy’s idea of what a black revolutionary would write.  So did this stuff.

So I was not terribly surprised when my first period class was interrupted by the principal with a special announcement that the other high school had nothing to do with the vandalism — our own students did it in a twisted attempt to inspire “school spirit.” The next voice we heard was George Allen Jr.’s, confessing that he was the guilty party. I think Allen was suspended for one game, and his family had to pay to clean up the spray paint. 

Now:  This happened.  Anyone who attended PV High in 1969, which is at least a thousand kids, witnessed it.  Allen, Jr. was the varsity quarterback.  His father was a celebrity.  This is not something you forget.  It seemed bizarre, especially because his father coached a team whose most famous players, Deacon Jones and Rosie Grier, were outspoken, politically involved African Americans.  And his son was a racist?

The stories that you’ve been reading lately about Allen, including the MSNBC story, take place only a few years after the incident at PV High.  Given what I witnessed, I think they are entirely credible.  Since Allen emerged as a political figure, I’ve been wondering whether there were other episodes like it, and apparently there were. As a public figure,  how would he deal with it, I wondered.   

And yet, here’s his campaign, in full denial mode:

Senator Allen’s campaign manager says this is all just another false accusation, and that it’s not true.

When asked how he knows it’s not true, the campaign manager simply said, “It’s not true.”

Hello? Hello?  

4 thoughts on “Dear Fellow Sea King…

  1. John,

    The New Republic ran a long article about the PV High thing a couple of months ago. If you look int your 1970 Yearbook you will notice that George is wearing a conferedate flag pin in his senior picture.

    If you recall, they knew it did it immediately, the word “Monarchs” (as in Morningside Monarchs) was mispelled in the grafito that adorned the building at next to the main office. Who but Allen….

    Cheers!

    John

  2. Hi John,

    Great to hear from you. It’s been a long time!

    I missed the New Republic article, although I saw an allusion to it in an LA Times editorial. I guess I need to stop being so cheap and pay the New Republic so I can see it. I did pick up the Weekly Standard today — the New Republic’s neo-con counterpart, and it has a cover story about how Allen’s strange racial attitudes, and his clumsy handling of it politically, have derailed his presidential ambitions. The story is, as you might expect from this magazine, pro-Allen, but it does agree that he’s damaged himself.

    It references the New Republic piece, but says “Most of the accusations leveled…were ignored or dismissed.” Very careful wording there. Perhaps they were ignored or dismissed, but they weren’t denied. The magazine obviously does not want to get caught out on the same limb as Allen’s spokespersons.

  3. It was interesting to see how your recollections of the Allen prank mirrored my own on that day.
    I recall arriving on the bus & seeing the first of the messages scrawled on the OAR. The students on the bus went silent. By the end of first period they had covered up any 4 letter stuff with white butcher paper from the art class, even though you could see right through it. They were pretty proper at that school!

    The observed parallels to the Manson murders is something that has occured to me over the years too. It’s a fairly obscure connection except to pop culture aware teenagers (to the extreme) growing up in SoCal in those days.

    I think that anybody who paid attention to Allen in those days noticed the fixation he had with
    the confederacy & the south. My impression was that he was mean & nasty person & used these things as outward symbols of his weird misplaced sense of rage and not as a symbol of his “rebel spirit”.

    It might be interesting to get a thread started on some of those classmates.com sites to see what other people remember about Allen, you are right, there were probably 2000 people that witnessed that thing & probably other stuff that I’m not aware of.

    BTW, this is a terrific blog.

    John

  4. I am appauled now at George Allen’s denial to what he did way back in High School, just as I was when he spray painted the grafitti all over the walls at PVHS. I rememember seeing that trash on the walls and was so shocked at what I was seeing. I asked myself, how could this kid do this when his father worked with some of the finest black atheletes in the world. Someone asked me yesterday, “had he come clean when all of this came out again just recently would your opinion be different?” The answer is simple…yes. But like most politicians, he has no morals, no integrity, no scruples. It’s time this country started electing men and women with integrity and honesty. It’s time this country got off their butts and took the time to not just look at how handsome/pretty or how much charisma a candidate has and elect the right man or woman for the job (not to mention someone with some spine!)

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