As you may have heard by now, a talk show host from Cincinnati made some comments the other day that did not sit too well, with the McCain campaign. The remark was made by WLW radio personality Bill Cunningham at a McCain rally and was pretty much what you would expect from him. But the real stir was created by his use of Barack Obama's middle name, which is Hussein.
Now, I personally do not care what anyone's name is or isn't. Names are just names. They identify who a person is on the surface, but they do not totally represent the whole person. Hussein is a name that may cause a sour and bitter taste in one's mouth, because of the late Iraqi dictator. It is a common name in the Arab world that many have shared, long before the butcher of Baghdad made it famous. We must not forget that the previous king of Jordan was also named Hussein, and he was one of the more moderate leaders in the Arab world.
Likewise, there are people here in America named Adolph. And I know two of them. One of them is a department head where I work and another is a psychologist, I used to work with. To meet either of them, you'd never know (by their behavior or their personalities) that they shared a name with an evil German dictator that tried to extinguish Jews. They are men that do their jobs, just like anyone else. The same can be said about other names people with names like Fidel, Castro, Joseph (Josef) and others.
The objects of my criticism in this post are two different groups of people.
The first one is the one that might include Mr. Cunningham. I say might, because I don't know.
People sling the term racist around haphazardly these days, at the drop of a hat. But Mr. Cunningham has stated that he was only using the name like he would any other person that seeks to be president or has served as one. Lyndon Baines Johnson, Ronald Wilson Reagan, William Jefferson Clinton, and Hillary Rodham Clinton have been used my many people over the years, to include Mr. Cunningham. Whether he was using it for the specific purpose of disparaging Sen. Obama or not, I cannot say for sure. But if he was, John McCain was right to repudiate it immediately, and he did.
It is not in the best interests of this nation or campaign to magnify something like a name or something a candidate wore while on a trip to Kenya. What we need to magnify is where a candidate stands on the issues, his/her past conduct as an adult (especially in the course of their previous dealings on the job), and their qualifications. Between these three things, there is enough information to make an intelligently informed decision. There are plenty of things that can be said of Obama in the early stages of this campaign that are fair game, for discussion and debate. His name is not something that matters in the grand scheme of things.
Healthcare, social security, national security, taxes, spending are all issues that are important enough. It's these kinds of things that can (in my view) eliminate Sen. Obama from consideration. Once people understand where he stands on these things, we have enough information to fairly criticize him and ultimately make a thoughtful choice. It is through these issues, whereby Obama can best be defined and rejected. It is through his actions and associations that PYY will attempt to define him, not by his middle name.
So to those that want to exploit this for the purpose of detracting from the real issues of the day, I say, get over it. It will not be hard to beat Obama's worldview and weaknesses in a debate. But, there is no need for nastiness and crass behavior like one can find on display at the Daily Kos, Huffington Post, and others. To do so gives those that want this kind of controversy front and center, more ammunition to hijack the debate. It gives race-baiters validity they do not deserve.
The next group of people that is the target of my criticism are the people that blow issues like this way out of proportion. These are they that make a man an offender for a word. A name is a word and nothing more. I do not condone any kind of disparaging name, in fact I once had a big argument with a family member for using a racial slur in front of my then, young children. But I also think that at some point in time, people must stop wearing their hearts on their sleeves and add a few layers of skin to insulate themselves against jerks that try to hurt others with their words. What ever happened to "sticks and stones make break my bones, but names will never harm me"?
As many that frequent this blog often already know, I do not allow it here. I have a standard that is not found in all areas of the blogosphere. And you the reader can trust that I will maintain it, as long as I have a blog. What other people say on their blogs is their business and I do not give a piper's damn what they say there, about me or anyone else. But it's not going to happen here. There have been some instances where I have been smeared, mocked, disparaged and laughed at on other sites, but I just plain do not care. If they are doing it to me, they are leaving someone else that may not be able to ignore it, alone.
I know who I am. People that know me personally, know who I am. And if those people that do not know me want to think anything other than what is thought by those who do, it is their problem (not mine). By acting in this manner, they show their own ignorance. It's no big deal, because the name-callers cannot make someone into something they are not, simply by calling someone something ugly or making up lies. I have been called every name in the book by some pretty mean and nasty people; and I have to say that if some coward, who sits behind a keyboard in the safety of their own home, takes pleasure in using mean words in an attempt to offend me, so be it. I assure you, very few of them would have the guts to say it to my face.
My point is simple. Ignore the people that cast unjustifiable aspersions, they aren't worth the time and energy.
So to Obama and his camp, I say get over it and stop exaggerating issues like this, for the purpose of detracting from the real issues. Want to silence the jerks? Talk about the things that we need to talk about. Present your worldview and positions, straight up, without using smokescreens and red herrings. Then and only then, the people of this nation can make a decision based on reason and sound judgment. You can keep playing the "I am offended card" if you wish. But when all is said and done, your message will not be heard and it will not resonate.