Thursday, February 4, 2010

Being Named

On his show today Glenn Beck accused President Obama of being a radical because when he transferred to Columbia he went back to using the name that his parents had given him at birth.

BECK: He chose to use his name, Barack, for a reason. To identify, not with America -- you don't take the name Barack to identify with America. You take the name Barack to identify with what? Your heritage? The heritage, maybe, of your father in Kenya, who is a radical? Really? Searching for something to give him any kind of meaning, just as he was searching later in life for religion.

Media Mattersbreaks Beck's comment down perfectly:

OK, let's break down the problematic parts of this, just so there isn't any room for confusion. First, the suggestion that certain names, such as the African name Barack, are un-American. Second, the idea that Obama, in embracing his African name, was doing so at the expense of his American identity, as if the two are mutually exclusive (someone relevant to this discussion once talked about the 'the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too'). And third, the implication that Obama's father's Kenyan roots are linked to his 'radical'-ness.

That's the best I can do for you, Glenn. I can't break it down any further. If you don't see why some people would get upset that you accused the president of adopting his African name in order to repudiate his American identity and connect with his father's radical Kenyan heritage, then I'm afraid you might be a lost cause.
Here is how President Obama explained why he assumed his given name after transferring to Columbia University in Newsweek in 2008: "It was not some assertion of my African roots ... not a racial assertion. It was much more of an assertion that I was coming of age. An assertion of being comfortable with the fact that I was different and that I didn't need to try to fit in in a certain way."

It is no surprise that the poll taken by an independent pollster for the Daily Kos indicates that...

* 36 percent of Republicans believe Obama was not born in the United States, 22 percent are not sure, 42 percent think he is a natural citizen.

* 31 percent of Republicans believe Obama is a "Racist who hates White people" -- the description once adopted by Fox News's Glenn Beck.

What I find really amazing about this is that Beck and his followers think that Barack Hussein Obama has chosen his name as if their names were not given to them at birth. And, with regards to names, young people assume nick names all the time and as they grow up they go back to their given name. Do we have a country of radical would-be-presidential youths?


Bob said...

Good analysis, Judith. I'm dazzled by your tolerance. I think Beck is a hate merchant, not worth listening to. Unfortunately hate merchants find people to peddle their hate to. Beck is so outrageous it's hard to imagine who would buy... but there are some who do. Too many.

Judith Ellis said...

Bob - I routinely detest Beck's remarks so much that when such is so I tend to be more moderate in my response, rationally responding to irrationality which is probably an utter waste as his viewers probably don't visit this blog regularly. Your point is a good one in that there are millions of people who watch his show weekly. I detest his words so much that I had to consider whether to even post this clip. (I even detest the sound of his voice.) But in the spirit of freedom of speech and the import of inflection I posted it.

Pamela said...

I have long since grown extremely tired of all of the critics as the President put it "perpetually campaigning".

Not only does it divide Americans, who I recall ascended upon Washington DC a little over a year ago in record number to witness history. It attempts to undo what has been accomplished.

It seems they must on a daily basis try to discredit this man on all and any counts.

My prayers are with and for him daily and for a better government that will actual remember why they were called to serve.

And these shows are meant for entertainment purposes. Beck, O'Reily and Limbaugh are fueling and tapping into a base and they fan the fire for ratings. Ratings equates to dollars. Oh, are we surprised it reverted back to the dollar.

zorro said...

Glen Beck is demented.

I saw a Chris Rock interview the other day and he was talking about racism and baseball. He was pointing out that in the 1960's, there were a good amount of black baseball players, but they were all outstanding. The, during the 1970's, you might find a mediocre black ball player here and there. Rock said that because they were letting in less than outstanding black ball players into pro ball, it meant baseball was less racist in the 1970's than in the 1960's, because now black players were allowed to suck just as much as the white players.
I thought is was very funny, but he also had an excellent point.
Take that to politics. Obama has all the traits of someone who could be an outstanding president. But it can't be any other way. This is the way it must be for the first black president. In other words, we will know that America is no longer racist when we elect a black president who is as incompetent as president bush was.

Judith Ellis said...

Pam - It is about the dollar for sure, but I think it is also about perpetuating a sick ideology. This is why I write about such things. I think it needs to be openly refuted, although it should just be a given that he is not well. I don't think it is though. I was just talking to a friend who was a Mormon. Believe it or not, Beck is a Mormon and there are Mormons who listen to him regularly. Aren't Mormons supposed to be strict? Many do appear to be self-righteous. Perhaps this is where Beck gets his "righteous" indignation. Speaking of Mormons, I watched Big Love tonight and loved it. My friend also says that the show is not indicative of his former faith. I'm sure there are some truths, as with everything. I said the same thing about shows like Good Times, What's Happening and Sanford and Son. Redd Foxx was hysterical, eh? Oh, well, I guess you don't need a segue to really pivot from Beck. :-)

Judith Ellis said...

Excellent, Zorro. Was Chris Rock on The Black List One or Two? I remember that comment specfically and also thought it profound. Both Black List One and Two are brilliantly produced. The third installment comes out Sunday, I think.

zorro said...

Chris was on HBO - I'm not sure what the show was.
He is quite a guy. Very funny and very bright.

Judith Ellis said...

Yep, it was definitely The Black List. I saw it again today. And, yes, he is bright and brilliant. He's brave too! His honesty reminds me of Richard Pryor.

JOHN O'LEARY said...

"America is no longer racist when we elect a black president who is as incompetent as president bush was." Zorro: Michael Steele, Chairman of the RNC, would fit the bill, but he just announced he's not a candidate. Bummer. A lot of us were counting on him.

Judith, the Mormons I've personally met are terrific folks. Not sure about their eschatology though. I can't get my brain around Missouri hosting the Second Coming—though Branson has great venues for comebacks.

Judith Ellis said...

John - No disparage meant against the Mormons by and large as there would be none against any other religious group including the non-denominational church that I attend. Branson is a riot, big hair and gaudy musicals. :-)

Anonymous said...

I dunno... maybe if Bill had set precedence and switched to William when he married Hilary, Barack wouldn't have gotten as much flack. :-P

Judith Ellis said...

Bravo, Meena! You are in rare form. There also seems to be something racist about the way that he calls President Obama's full name as if there is something wrong with it. The likes of these seem to have also have a problem with Muslims too, even though the president isn't and as it should make a difference if he was.

Anonymous said...

Yes well, a name carries a whole lot - heritage and roots as you say. I got to be pulled over flying from LA to Sacramento for extra ID. Gotta love having an arab name. I think the US is and has been xenophobic - the group just changes as time passes. And I hope this too shall pass.

Judith Ellis said...

Me too, Meena. Sorry about the extra ID requirement. I too have been pulled over, but sometimes it's not always personal. I have a completely Jewish name in black skin. And, no, I'm not a Falasha. :-)