Dana Milbank, of the Washington Post, reports Allen's reaction this way:
Allen recoiled as if he had been struck. His supporters in the audience booed and hissed. "To be getting into what religion my mother is, I don't think is relevant," Allen said, furiously. "Why is that relevant -- my religion, Jim's religion or the religious beliefs of anyone out there?"
"Honesty, that's all," questioner Fox answered, looking a bit frightened.
"Oh, that's just all? That's just all," the senator mocked, pressing his attack. He directed Fox to "ask questions about issues that really matter to people here in Virginia" and refrain from "making aspersions."
How should we read this? We now know that Allen's mother is indeed Jewish ethnically, though she converted to Anglicanism and raised her son an Episcopalian. Her father, Felix Lumbroso, was imprisoned by the Nazis in Tunisia because he was Jewish and had opposed them. We also know that Allen had only found out about his Jewish roots a month before this public question. And his mother had begged him not to tell, because she had kept it from the rest of the family.
Still, a month is time enough to get used to the idea, and to have an answer ready for the inevitable reporter's questions.
When asked if he had Jewish roots, George Allen took this question as an aspersion.
Now, I am about as Jewish as George Allen is – ethnically but not religiously, from several wonderfully intermarried lines. Like Allen, I carry a middle name from a pretty-Jewish grandfather – Joseph, in my case. My eldest carries my grandmother's maiden name, Blum, as her middle name to honor her beloved ancestor. My daughter is a Christian, an ordinary meat-and-potatoes Presbyterian. But she will Never Forget. We honor our Jewish heritage, as we do the rest of the family lines.
I don't think calling out Jewish roots is "casting aspersions." George Allen does. In that moment, like the macaca moment, he really did reveal his true identity.