Our VoiceNews & Politics

Just a Chip Off the Old Block


Guest Blogger • Feb 10, 2010

Last week Fox News commentator Glenn Beck went on a rant against Barack Obama simply because his mother and father chose to name their baby after his father. He has been named Barack for 49 years, and managed to do very well in school, work, and civic affairs. But media buffoon Beck thinks that he can determine how “American” someone is just by the sound of his name.

Glenn Beck said of President Obama: “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.”

How can Fox News allow this sort of drivel on the air? Why do their sponsors want to pay for this sort of prejudice? Does this mean any man named for his father is not American?

Will Glenn Beck tell President George W. Bush that he should not have been named after President George H. W. Bush – because that would not be American? Too late to tell President John Quincy Adams that he should not have been named for President John Adams.

How about all the juniors? Baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr., humorist Roy Blount, Jr., Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., author Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., performer Oscar Brown, Jr., and Nobel Peace Prize winner Martin Luther King, Jr. Are none of them American because they are named for their father?

And don’t forget the Buds, like Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig, jazz pianist Bud Powell, or comedians Bud Abbott and Lou Costello – aren’t they American?

And then there are the Chips, like baseball announcer Chip Caray (really Harry Christopher Caray III), son of Skip Caray, and grandson of Harry “Holy Cow” Caray. One of my friends was dating a “Spike,” but she married a “Chip” because, as she said, “He is just like his father, so I know what he is going to be like.”

Even better are couples who name both children after the father. Jim Phillippe was the Chair of the Radio and TV Department at Butler University in Indiana. He and his wife were so sure that they were going to have a boy that they discussed their plans for “Jamie.” When the baby was a girl, they made up the nameJamene so that they could still call her Jamie. Then when their second child was born they called him James R. Phillippe II and called him Jimmy. Jim Phillippe is the man who broadcast all the color commentary for the Indianapolis 500 races, including interviews from the pits, and his children Jimmy and Jamie still attend the Indy 500 every year. Can you get any more American than that?

I think it is time that Fox News demands that its on-air personnel stop judging others by out-of-date ethnic stereotypes. Or else their 2010 sponsors should stop paying for 1940’s attitudes.

Joan Flanagan is the Fundraiser for the Center for New Community. She is named for her grandmother Johanna.
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