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.
[. . .] The word “gook” was first used in 1899 by American soldiers fighting Filipino insurgents. During the Korean War, the term was aimed at Koreans and Chinese. It was directed at the Vietnamese when Americans were fighting in Vietnam. It is now used as a slur toward any Asian or Pacific Islander.
Understandable on a personal level, but from a potential President?