Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sinatra In The Background and What's In A Name?

Apropos of nothing, Lea is listening to Frank Sinatra. "Summer Wind," to be specific.


I'm following with interest this preoccupation with Barack Obama's middle name. Certain hatemongers (Ann Coulter, cough cough, Tennessee Republican Party, cough cough, Bill Cunningham, cough-ity cough cough cough cough) love to point out over and over again that said middle name is "Hussein." Author Juan Cole has a terrific blog post on the subject. An excerpt:

I want to say something about Barack Hussein Obama's name. It is a name to be proud of. It is an American name. It is a blessed name. It is a heroic name, as heroic and American in its own way as the name of General Omar Nelson Bradley or the name of Benjamin Franklin. And denigrating that name is a form of racial and religious bigotry of the most vile and debased sort. It is a prejudice against names deriving from Semitic languages...

You can read the whole thing here.

I've mentioned before that security guards at Serramonte Mall used to demand to know the last names of Filipino kids, and then would proceed to mock the ones they felt were particularly ridiculous. And years ago while visiting with some friends of my in-laws, our host (how we arrived at the topic, I cannot recall) mentioned that when thumbing through resumés for administrative positions at his law firm, he dismissed—as a rule—any applicant with a foreign-sounding name. "My name is Maria Veronica Montes,'" I said. "Would you throw out my resumé?" And, quite matter-of-factly, he answered "Yes." And, quite matter-of-factly I thought, "Hmmm. Your loss." And also, "Hmmm, Mr. Lawyer. That's illegal."

So...what's in a name? Much more—and much less—than willfully ignorant people believe.


Now it's "My Way," which I will admit to singing with gusto in the privacy of my bedroom at approximately age 9.

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