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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hussein

by Saul Bloodworth

Lets talk about the name Barack Hussein Obama. People - well, some people - are making a big deal about the name Hussein. As in: How can someone named like the former biggest enemy of the United States become President? Rightwingers sneer at it, Liberals see it as proof that Americans are not prejudiced. Both is nonsense.

Hussein is simply a very common name in the Arab world. It means "handsome". Its English version is "Alan", which also means handsome.

Speaking of evils names, the first name of Goebbels, Hitler's Propaganda minister, who was arguable more evil than Hitler himself, was Joseph. There are quite a few Josephs, or Joes around in the U.S. — Joe Lieberman, Joe Biden, Joe the Plumber —; (the Arab version is Yusuf) and I don't recall anybody making a big deal out of that.

Also Stalin's first name was Joseph (ok, bad example), and there was, of course Joseph Kennedy. And Mussolini's first name was Benito. I'm fairly sure that an American President who is called Ben would not cause much of an outcry. The first names of the commander of the Nazi Airforce were Heinrich and Wilhelm, so his full name was, really, Henry Bill Goering. Suck on that, O'Reilly!

So it's really not about Obama sharing his name with a deceased dictator, it's about hating a foreign-sounding name. There is a name for that: Xenophobia.

So, dear Liberals, the next time you get bugged by some Know-nothing about the name Hussein, just remind them that Joe the Plumber is named after Joseph Goebbels. And quite rightfully so.

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