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I've been called many names; "Hussein" would be the least of it

Several days ago, Liz at Mom-101 wrote Political Death by Middle Name? for MOMocrats. In that article, she informed us that some conservative right wing talk show guy had decided a good political tactic was to employ the George Bush Manufacture Fact By Proximity and Repetition technique to link Barack Obama to terrorism. How? Because he happens to be named after his father, which means his middle name is Hussein. That's right: Hussein.

It's a name. That's all.

Not everybody named Wayne is a serial killer, and not everybody named Bush is...well, best to not hoist myself on my own petard here.

I read Liz's informative article, made a mental note, was annoyed, but thought, well, that's just too stupid to go anywhere.

I underestimated the mental immaturity and reckless irresponsibility of some right wing talking heads. I overestimated people's sense of honor, mistakenly assuming that all of us have this interior gauge that prevents us from going too low. I overestimated places that call themselves news stations.

On Wednesday night, while waiting for my husband to wean himself off of his obsessive political watching so we could tune in to American Idol, I caught Sean Hannity, Bill Cunningham and Alan Colmes on the TV talking about Obama, no talking about his middle name.

Seriously, this is considered newsworthy? Some asshat in Ohio pulls a schoolyard stunt and makes fun of a presidential candidate's name and so-called news stations needs to allow time to discuss it?

Dude, didn't anyone ever tell you the best way to get rid of a bully and his taunts is to ignore him?

But they didn't.

Instead, major networks spread Cunningham's message. All righty then. Let's talk about it. Let's get the issue on the table and talk it into the nothing that it is.

So, I wrote, "Sing it with me: This is the way we attack Barack, attack Barack, attack Barack..." for MOMocrats.

People went from eye-rolling when it was simply some guy on a talk show to "nuklar" now that it was a nationwide scam.

John McCain shunned Bill Cunningham, and apologized to Obama. Cunningham leapt into bed with Ann Coulter (and that ought to tell you a lot) and declared for Hillary Clinton, who probably got no sleep that night whatsoever as she tried to think of a way to renounce, denounce, reject or ignore her new backers. (Yes, that was a debate reference from the other night, and yes, my friend Sarah Slouching, I did in fact nerd out in that moment.)

And the MOMocrats started a meme.

If you think using this tactic to smear Obama is way too low, way too ridiculous, and want to help water it down, join in the meme.

The "Just Call Me Hussein" meme is about names, and our own personal experience with them. Participation brings: blog fodder, a button and a MOMocrats link.

Here's how:

1. Click here to read all the instructions in detail and see links to people who already participated.

2. Post your "Hussein name" in the title of your blog.

3. Share a story about how someone tried to make you feel bad about your name.

4. When you post, be sure to link MOMocrats at so we can find you. You can also comment on the meme post at MOMocrats and even may include a link. We're groovy with that.

And if you want a bit of a laugh at my expense, my own little nickname embarrassment, you can check out, "Benny, when you call me, you can call me Hussein."

button 1

button 2

Let's take the high road, let's be louder than the culture of fear and anxiety, let's pull the plug on this.

Note: Speaking of memes, I know Jenn, Mimi, and a few other people (sorry, foggy headed this coffee, and am getting husband's sickness...he's generous at sharing that way) tagged me for memes that I want to do. I have a list. No I swear, I do. I know what I'm supposed to do. I'd intended to do it today but *got derailed by idiocy.* Maybe it will be my fun fluff for the weekend. And you guys rocked yesterday, thanks. :)

Copyright 2008 Julie Pippert
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thordora said…
What is it with half your country? It's a FREAKING NAME!!!!! Imagine if his middle name was Jesus! I can't decide if they'd crucify him, or kiss him!

I don't get it. I honestly don't think stuff like this would ever come up in an election up here. And if it did, we'd collectively shrug because it's his NAME.

sigh....and I thought it sucked when people called me Jabba the Hut because of my name...
Gwen said…
What's wrong with our country, T? Do you have to ask? (I'm thinking of a song ... If you have to ask, you'll never know; name that band for .... blog points, yeah). How long do you have? lol.

I can't decide if participating in this meme adds fuel to the very stupid fire or if it really does steal the flame.

Julie Pippert said…
Thordora. Dude. What happened was that sometime, umm maybe when the first settler arrived on the shores, we decided freedom meant free to be an utter ass. There are people who really don't get it. They really think all's fair in love, war and politics. And they'll stoop as low as they wish to accomplish what they want. They are angry and vicious frequently. It happens on both sides. It's obnoxious. And sadly, it works. It whips into a frenzy people who believe what they hear, have developed a trust in the source, or who are in a narrow mind track. I think we're all guilty at some point of not critically thinking or questioning, so I get how it happens. But this. Sheesh. Not this case.


Gwen, honestly, it's up to you and that's a fair question. I don't say that JUST because I asked it too. I'm sure we're right. :)

I had to ask myself about that before writing an article about it, that included quotes from the conversation. But I decided it was so ridiculous, and getting out there, that I needed to throw a blanket in it. KWIM?

If you read a transcript it is so ridiculous.

WRT the meme, I decided, on my part, that relating it individually as "we've all dealt with having our names mocked and used against us" will make people stop, pause and reject. I hope.

So hopefully by thinking about their experiences as "Mike Carpenter Ant" will make them realize what people assume about you from your name isn't always so, and they'll reject it.

And we use personalization and humor.

But I'm really not trying to persuade, just explain the reasoning I arrived at.
Anonymous said…
I am so tempted to grab the button with the green finger, but I really want to keep my blog politics free. It is a great idea and hope it knocks some sense into those idiots out there (doubtful, but one can hope right?).

(Today I go back to the Name/URL for the comment, OpenID is really tiring me out. And I'm thinking again about jumping blogger's ship)
Gwen said…
I do like that graphic though! >grin<
Hey Julie,

I'm staying out of this whole thing..don't know enough about it (though from your post I can only shake my head)...but didn't want to leave without wishing you a happy weekend. So there you go - have a good weekend :0

Jennifer S said…
Uh, Julie, I believe you've just asked all of America ignore what they see on TV and think for ourselves. You know we're not capable of that. Geez. (I don't know why I'm ever astonished by what the news outlets decide is newsworthy.)

I'd chop off my own arm if it meant shaking myself free of an Ann Coulter endorsement.
Annie said…
That'll teach you to go watching Fox News!
Anonymous said…
WHat I want to know is: what do they think it says about them that it took them this long to figure out what his middle name is?
I just want to know who Ann Coulter hasn't leapt into bed with.
Robert said…
Actually, Wheels, that particular pundit has been referring to him exclusively as Barack Hussein Obama for months. It just took this long for anyone to make national news out of it. Next up: Mark Levin uses the names Hillary Rotten Clinton and John McLame all the time, and refers to New York Slimes and Washington Compost articles quite regularly. The main difference being, all Cunningham did was refer to the man by his full name. I'm still not sure why it required McCain to renounce him, nor am I sure why it is in any way wrong for him to do so.

Personally, I prefer the points being made about how little substance Obama has in his campaign speeches that win him amazing applause. He just knows how to sound punchy and energizing, but he says things that don't mean much.

Last point: Obama's just plain wrong on what he said about Al Qaida wasn't there until the US was. There's evidence of them being trained by Iraqi military before the US invaded. And they're still there, so McCain's point was a solid one: if you plan to go back only if they're trying to establish it as a base of operations against the United States, well, then why leave? They already are trying, and they're being defeated.

Okay, feel free to return to your regular programming.
Anonymous said…
Ok, this is beyond sad.
Lawyer Mama said…
Sigh, Robert, Robert, Robert. You do know we're beyond being converted, right? (-;

And here I was worried no one would use the middle finger.... LOL!

I LOVE that little rascals graphic!
Anonymous said…
Unfortunately, I can't participate in this meme, since my "Hussein name" is highly offensive (enough that I wouldn't even tell my parents, until loooong after I was physically bigger than they were, and had hidden all the soap.)

Anonymous said…
Damn, I'd missed hearing about all that. I can't believe that it became national news. Talk about absurd.

I know a thing or two about name issues. I've gotten crap for all three of my names at various times. I might consider doing the meme, but I'm terribly slow to do group projects. And I'm really, really hoping this "issue" dies down quickly. (I can't believe this is an issue!)
Robert said…
Lawyer Mama (Stephanie),

I hold out no hope that you'll become conservatives. I just find it disconcerting that people consider it offensive for someone to be called by their middle name.

My wife planned to post this, but she's ill so I'll point it out for her. No one made such a stink when John Kerry tried to make himself out to be the next JFK with his allusions to his name being John Fitzgerald Kerry. Conservatives and liberals alike use "W" as a name for the current president. For most of Bill's presidency, Hillary was Hillary Rodham Clinton. Why, then, is it so terrible that a radio host who regularly calls Obama by his full name do so when he was specifically invited by McCain to fire up the troops at a rally? If McCain did not know he always called Obama by his full name, then he's a fool for inviting a man he barely listens to. If, instead, he expected him not to, again he's a fool. To denounce him for using the full name, again foolish. I agree with Levin, who said "Why would ANYONE ever speak for McCain at a rally like that again when they stand such a chance of being publicly denounced right after speaking?"

I just really would rather the issues be discussed, much like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh. Obama sounds great. He sounds very inspiring. But what does he say when he's sounding so inspiring? He gets huge applause for the most meaningless things right now.

My point, in the end, is that I don't like any of the candidates running. I will choose to vote for McCain because he will work harder for things that I care about than either Democrat, but I'm not fond of him particularly at this point. I just don't want to give any more meat to the notion that it's wrong to call someone by their own name, either. Why is it okay to indict Cunningham for it, but it's perfectly normal to leave alone the various liberal pundits who deride Limbaugh constantly, or who point out how silly the president sounds when he fails in saying nuclear, or anything that has NOTHING to do with issues? I really am not ranting. That's just my whole point here. The name thing, it has no reason to even be discussed, let alone turned into a huge list of memes. My apologies if I gave any indication that I had designs on changing anyone's minds about being liberal, or if I offended anyone, or if I sounded angry. I really am not. I am just hopeful for a brighter future for America than I see today.
Anonymous said…
I have to say that seeing this meme spread really does my heart good. Whether or not one is an Obama supporter is beside the point -- it's high time we stop allowing the press to hijack the important discussions with thinly-veiled epithets intended to raise the racists within. Words DO matter, particularly when they're wielded with the intention to distract from what's really important. It's a fear tactic, except the fear is on the part of the talkalots, who are afraid they will be out of a job if we stand up and demand more mature discourse from them.

I hope this ends up on the front page of Digg, spreads all over the blogosphere and straight into the mainstream media.
Julie Pippert said…
Robert. First, sorry you guys are still sick. We've suffering a bad case of the ick here, too, and man it sucks. Hope you get well soon.


When some people questioned everyone calling Hillary Clinton by her first name when the male candidates were called by last, someone else sagely pointed out that Hillary emphasized her first name and all her signs etc. said Hillary. Ah okay it's her way of distinguishing herself from another famous politician named Clinton. Makes sense.

When some people asked about W, it was that George Bush inserted the W into his name to distinguish himself from his father, George Bush. He went by George W Bush and emphasized the W himself to distinguish. Ah, makes sense.

There isn't another Barack Obama on the political scene in the US. He hasn't hid nor has he highlighted his middle name. He has no need for distinction.

Bill Cunningham did it and we all know why. It was obvious in his original discussion when he did it, especially when he threw in Mohammed.

He's not innocently using Obama's full name. I wish he was, but he isn't.

He is emphasizing the middle name to put fear into people. It's emphasizing xenophobia, racism and religious bigotry. He's trying to make people think of Saddam Hussein and terrorism, although that's one of those MAGIC connections that went through the George Bush Manufacture Fact By Proximity and Repetition technique, too.

Even the GOP gets that this is what he's doing.

Even John McCain gets that this is what he's doing.

Even his callers and fans get that this is what he's doing.

Look at the call ins and write ins to Cunningham and Hannity.

Just a few that asked, "So you think Obama's a terrorist, part of a terror cell?" made it clear to me, and him too I'm sure which is why he's kept it up, that he'd made his point.

It's disgusting. should have been isolated to that nasty little corner of Cunningham's world.

My big disgust is that news media carried the story and made it mainstream.

You know if even I heard it's gone totally national.
Julie Pippert said…
Angela, I her you on abandoning the platform. I'm ready to go, even though my rating just shot up.


Blogger changed domains and it left a bug in my import function to my own domain. I was working on that this week. I finally got all the bugs and kinks worked out EXCEPT THAT ONE, ugh. There is a patch and fix but it exceeds my pitiful abilities.
Julie Pippert said…

MAD WICKED AWESOME design skillz and credz to Stephanie of Lawyer Mama, for the buttons.

My BAD. Sorry Steph.
Julie Pippert said…
Annie and Jennifer, I am duly chastised, LOL. Annie STG I had this whole post typed up with CNN and swore that's what it was, and my husband said, "Ummm I might have had Fox on," and I was "WHAT?!?!?! FOX NEWS??!?!" His obsession has gone too far. LOL Jennifer, I can't help but hope LOL.

Jeff, LMAO, I know!

Ed, whisper it to me at the next get-together. I am so wicked curious now.
Julie Pippert said…
Alejna, I'm hoping the same thing.

Karoli, me too.

Steph, I had to use to middle finger one. I noted Gwen did too.

Heidi, thanks! You too. IN FRANCE!

Emily, I think it's been known all along but now that he's a serious contender, they've begun *using* it.

Momish, I agree.
Robert said…
I get your points, Julie. But why should someone be denounced for simply using someone's own name? Why not denounce those who mock the names as well? Why is it okay to use a name to hearken to greatness (as Kerry attempted)? Perhaps we should start calling him by the name he went by in grade school: Barry Obama. That would avoid us offending anyone by calling him by a name that sounds foreign. The problem is, though, and this plays into this week's Hump Day, are we not encroaching on free speech when we decry someone who is only using a name? Huckabee was torn down for the cross image at Christmas in his ads. Romney was torn down for his "magic Mormon underwear". And no one attacked the liberal pundits who criticized Huckabee for the cross image (which he claimed was an accident) or Romney for his attachment to his church. Cunningham, though, is a paraiah for using a person's full name. I definitely see the double-standard that Hannity regularly comments on right now. I tend to ignore those ideas simply because I want to move past the divide and find solutions, but this issue brings it all back to me.

I know where you're coming from, but I don't agree that censuring anyone from using a person's proper name is an appropriate use of the First Amendment, or any of its limitations.

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