Friday, February 29, 2008

What's in a Name?

Hillary Clinton must be getting desperate. She probably knows she's losing so she and her campaign team are getting down and very dirty. Her camp is harping on this photo of Barack Obama wearing a traditional African Muslim dress in his Kenya tour in 2006. Kenyan elders demand an apology.

From the right, A Republican talkshow host Bill Cunningham, called Obama a "Manchurian candidate" and kept repeating his middle name "Hussein" in his show.

Obviously all these are designed to draw attention to the fact that Obama is not white and does not have an Anglo name, therefore he is a shade closer to being an "Other." Worse he could be a dirty Muslim who is more than willing to negotiate with hated, evil Muslim terrorists. His opponents' main line of attack, now that they look set to lose, is questioning Obama's authenticity as an American.

As a thoughtful reflection, here's an excellent article from Salon tracing the etymology of names borne by prominent American figures. Benjamin (Franklin) is apparently Semitic.

If Barack (blessed) Hussein (good) Obama becomes the next US President, then Americans will have made a gigantic leap forward with redefining what it means to be American and defining what an "American" is vis-à-vis the rest of the world.


failed misanthrope said...

That's a very potent image against Obama. Madami kasing parochial and backward na mga Amerkano. Even Filipino-Americans! I recently received a forwarded e-mail from a retired nurse/Filipina-American. The e-mail contained propaganda about Obama being a covert Muslim. Ironic. Hindi ba niya (the Filipina who sent me the anti-Obama e-mail) naisip na for white America, she's part of the "Other," the minority na tulad ni Obama?

I will be very stupefied if Obama wins. And joyful and hopeful.

sparks said...

I sincerely hope he does. America needs new blood. I don't care if he doesn't have "experience." He's not stupid. He can hire the most brilliant of technocrats/advisers to take care of the details.