Monday, March 10, 2008

What is in a name?

Juan Cole looks at the sheer historical and broader ridiculousness of mocking or fearing Barack Obama's middle name.

At Cincinnati, Bill Cunningham, according to the LAT, who "introduced presidential candidate John McCain at a rally here today accused Barack Obama of sympathizing with 'world leaders who want to kill us' and invoked Obama's middle name -- three times calling him 'Barack Hussein Obama.' " John McCain repudiated Cunningham's low tactics and said that using the middle name like that three times was "inappropriate" and would never happen again at one of his rallies.

I want to say something about Barack Hussein Obama's name. It is a name to be proud of. It is an American name. It is a blessed name. It is a heroic name, as heroic and American in its own way as the name of General Omar Nelson Bradley or the name of Benjamin Franklin. And denigrating that name is a form of racial and religious bigotry of the most vile and debased sort. It is a prejudice against names deriving from Semitic languages!

He looks at the origins of names like Omar, Thomas, and US generals Joulwan and Abizaid.

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