Thursday, January 31, 2008

McCain and the word "gooks"

Will it hurt him?

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 made no apologies yesterday.

"I was referring to my prison guards,'' McCain said, "and I will continue to refer to them in language that might offend some people because of the beating and torture of my friends.''

McCain made it clear that his anger extends only toward his captors. As a senator, he was one of the leaders of the postwar effort to normalize U.S. relations with Vietnam.

As anyone who knows me knows, I find racial slurs unacceptable. I have complained here many times how the youth of today seem to have no problem tossing around racial slurs to their friends and enemies.

McCain may have a point that he is referring to his captors who tortured him and his friends, but a man can put those kind of labels aside and still make the case for his captors being evil. There are lots of words and names one can use without using a slur associated with a certain community of people.

Do I think this is a big deal? No. Because of the circumstances and the history of it, but the more important concern to me, is one no one is mentioning.


Perhaps McCain would do well to read Corrie Ten Boom's "The Hiding Place." (this book had a profound effect on me as a teenager, I recommend it to anyone who really wants to understand the true meaning of Christianity)

This book was written by a woman whose Christian Dutch family lived in Nazi occupied Holland during World War II. When they realized what was happening to their Jewish friends, they constructed a secret room to hide the Jews. Eventually they were caught and sent to concentration camps. There, Corrie's entire family died.

The part that McCain might learn from is where years and years later, long after the camps, Corrie meets one of the prison guards. You can only imagine the feelings she experienced. He asked for her forgiveness and she did a profound and holy thing.

She forgave him.

When we forgive our enemies, we release whatever hold they may still have on us.

McCain's captors may have never asked forgiveness, but it is still McCain's to grant.

It is in forgiveness that we find peace.

Update: I could not find the link where I found this story, but I didn't realize that McCain said this back in 2000. Some blogs on the left are bringing this up, so I guess that is where I read it. I googled it in blogsearch and like me, many blogs are reading the article thinking it was recently.

Sorry for the confusion.

Anyway, it seems that McCain apologized a day later back in 2000:

“I will continue to condemn those who unfairly mistreated us,” McCain said in a statement released Feb. 21. “But out of respect to a great number of people for whom I hold in very high regard, I will no longer use the term that has caused such discomfort… I apologize and renounce all language that is bigoted and offensive, which is contrary to all that I represent and believe.”