Jan Cornell is Opinionated


As a citizen of Virginia for 27 years, a union member, a single mom and  a staunch Democrat, I feel compelled to write concerning George Felix Allen’s latest faux pas: his racist and bigoted remarks to S.R. Sidarth, the young man who is working for senatorial candidate Jim Webb.
    While I have read the various news accounts, blogs, letters to the editor and editorials, I haven’t seen a lot of apologies directly to this young man. Yes, Allen has apologized profusely to the media, and finally placed a call to Sidarth, but only after being blasted nationally by the press.  Well, I wish to apologize to Mr. Sidarth directly, since Senator Allen seems to have so much trouble doing it. I am sorry you were ridiculed by someone who supposedly represents all Virginians. I hope he knows this is not the way Virginians are. Since Mr. Sidarth is from Fairfax, I’m sure he knows that most residents of our state are good and kind people. Since Mr. Sidarth attends UVA, I thought I would put in a word from a local citizen of the Charlottesville area. (Apparently UVA didn’t feel compelled to speak out for this young student of theirs.)
    What upset me most while watching the clip of Allen’s speech was how the all-white Republican crowd was snickering and laughing. They all thought this was all very funny and cool. Did Allen really think that no one would notice his remarks? That no one would care? Is he so puffed up with his own self-importance that he thought no one would dare go after him and hold him accountable for his remarks? Or did he just think that it is O.K., in a Southern state with a Republican legislature, to talk like this?
    I have heard from friends and colleagues from all over the country these past weeks. Thanks to Senator Allen, Virginia is now the laughingstock of the country. No one understands how we could ever re-elect him. Many have asked why I live here. Virginians are not looking good by having someone like George Allen representing us, they tell me—that, in fact, we are looking very racist and bigoted. I tell them that the majority of us are not. That this is a great, well-run state with a Democratic governor. I also tell them that George Felix Allen hasn’t done a lot for this state he represents, and that we aim to get him out of Washington. If nothing else, his aspirations to be president are gone—and that can only be a good thing for the country.
    It’s time for Allen to move aside, and for Jim Webb to step up. It’s time for all Democrats (local, state, and national) to speak out about this and take a stand. If a Democratic senatorial candidate had made these remarks, the Republicans would be all over them. Why is it the Dems always feel they have to “play nice”? Does Karl Rove play nice? Does Dick Cheney play nice? Does George Allen play nice and politically correct? We all know the answer to that one: Absolutely not. He has already ridiculed Webb many times—over his service to our country in the military, his service in Reagan’s administration, and on and on.
    We must get George Felix Allen out of Washington. I see today in the polls that he and Webb are neck-and-neck, with Webb slightly ahead. But we have 60 days to go.
    I urge everyone to vote on election day, and to contribute to Webb’s campaign if you can and work for him if you have the time.

Jan Cornell is a former UVA employee, and is currently president and organizer at the Staff Union at UVA.