During a press conference on Thursday held by Chuck Schumer regarding the dangers of synthetic marijuana, Albany County Executive, Democrat Dan McCoy, referred to small businesses in the area as “haji stores”.

“In Albany County, it’s starting to be a problem and if you go into any of these little stores — these little haji stores you want to call them, or whatever you want to say they are — you do find this stuff on the shelves.”

While the term “haji” can be harmless, meaning one who has made the pilgrimage to Mecca, it has also taken on a negative connotation in recent years.  The Urban Dictionary defines it as…

n. offensive slang; disparaging term for arabs, especially those of Islamic faith.

Honestly, there isn’t much to make out of this situation other than to point out that had this been said by a Republican, the press and his or her opponent would have had a field day portraying them as an Islamophobic racist.  As it is, the Albany Times Union ran an article on Friday which was telling in two ways:

  1. The people interviewed for the piece, who are of Middle Eastern descent, have no idea why he used the term “haji”, but at the same time are unsure whether or not they should be offended.
  2. They didn’t bother to label McCoy as a Democrat.
To his credit, McCoy quickly acknowledged the terminology as possibly being offensive, taking to Twitter to state:

“I mispoke (sic) in my attempt to portray the dangers of synthetic marijuana. I used a “slang” term inadvertently when I meant (to) say Bodega” … “If my accidental use of that term offended anyone I sincerely apologize.”

No need to worry Mr. McCoy, you’re a Democrat.  You can get away with such comments, it will not be your ‘Macaca Moment‘.  Actually, perhaps this can be a springboard to a better career in politics.

After all, it was vice-President Joe Biden, who once stated, “You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I’m not joking.”

Or maybe you can start pulling out actual Indian accents at your speeches.  Like this one, again by Joe Biden, when describing a call center: