June 19th, 2008


[politics] Obama’s middle name

There’s a lot of idiocy already floating around about Barack Obama, especially with respect to his alleged terrorist connections. E.D. Hill’s “terrorist fist jab” comment, for example. Even some of the moron wing of the Democratic party are saying things like “…he may be terrorist connected for all I can tell. It sounds kind of like he may be.”

This is racism, barely bothering with a veil. “Terrorist” is a much safer word than, say, “black”, because it’s just fine in America today to revile both Muslims and Arabs (who are not synonymous, any more than white people and Christians are) with the sort of venom once found on the steps of Central High School in Little Rock, or on the streets of Selma. Public discourse in America won’t easily sustain naked white-on-black racism these days, not even on FOX, but white-on-Arab/Islamic racism is just fine and dandy and even quite patriotic.

Obama is ready made for that kind of whispering. He attended Muslim schools in his youth, and his middle name is Hussein. That’s what people like E.D. Hill1 and Fred Hobbs will ensure that millions of Republican voters will be focused on this summer and fall. The nuttier elements on the right don’t even want to believe the circumstances of his birth.

Let’s compare me to Senator Obama.

Jay Lake Barack Obama
Name on Birth Certificate Joseph Edward Lake II Barack Hussein Obama II
Childhood Religious Schooling 3 years in Southern Baptist missionary schools in Taiwan and Nigeria Several years in Islamic school in Indonesia

So we were both named after our fathers. Oddly, so was the current president, albeit with a different middle name. Obama’s middle name is of religious and political significance in the Islamic world. My middle name is the same as one of England’s most recent male monarchs, Edward VIII2, clearly of royalist significance.

Does anyone not on a thorazine drip imagine that I might be a British royalist secretly angling to overthrow the Constitution and restore the Crown to the Americas? The idea is profoundly laughable. Being suspicious of Obama because of the middle name he inherited from his Kenyan father at birth is just as laughable.

We both went to religious schools run by a faith neither of us has ever proclaimed for ourselves. Does anyone who’s every spent ten minutes talking to me or reading my blog somehow imagine that I might be a crypto-Baptist working to bring about the Christian Millenium? That’s even more laughable that imagining me a British royalist. Yet similar choices made by Obama’s parents for him when he was a minor are being held up as evidence that he is secretly a Muslim.

This is conservative red meat stuff, victimization and conspiracy and innuendo. The American Right has not been a culture of ideas since Goldwater, if not before — they need something to react against in order to be viable. This kind of thinking drove the Red Scare. It drove the Nixon White House. It hounded the Clintons for the eight years of Bill’s presidency. (Remember the Clinton White House Christmas tree allegedly decorated with crack pipes and condoms?) It would have dogged a Hillary candidacy, and it will dog the Obama candidacy.

Except for Obama, making him out to be a crypto-Muslim legitimizes the racism inherent in a vast swathe of the Republican electorate, while also prying apart the Democratic electorate along similar lines. Naked white-on-black racism is difficult to pull off these days with a straight face in mainline public discourse, but lashing Obama to the terrorist mast will be the sport of kings for months to come, giving millions of people who won’t quite say the N-word in public a good, warm-hearted patriotic reason to vote against the brown man. (And I say this as a suspected Southern Baptist Royalist.)

More shame on all of us as Americans that this can be true.

1. Yes, I am aware E.D. Hill’s show has since been cancelled, and that Hobbs is a Democrat. I’m pretty sure this sort of innuendo isn’t going to go away because of that. Note also the common thread between the two of them was FOX News, the fair-and-balanced network whose “news” director was one of Ronald Reagan’s key political strategists.

2. Yes, I am aware that Edward VIII abdicated without being formally crowned.

Originally published at jlake.com. You can comment here or there.


[links] Link salad, Thursday edition

Tomorrow Museum — An interesting site with in-depth posts about futurism, sf and culture, including a long essay on women in SF.

China as an Island — Another fascinating squib from Strange Maps. Especially worth the read if you are Sinophile, or interested in international trade and development.

Vending Machine Extravaganza — Japanese vending machines! Mmm, Pocari Sweat, anyone? (Thanks to danjite.)

Baffling crop circles equal pi — (Thanks to danjite.)

The Fall and Rise of Hillary Clinton — What Hillary won by losing the Democratic nomination. A fascinating, thoughtful article. My own angry frustration with her, which was only stoked by her speech the night of the final primaries, mitigated considerable with the much better speech she gave when she suspended her campaign.

Shariate law cited in US courts — It’s long been one of the more bizarre fixations of conservatives that secular liberals somehow pine for the imposition of Shariate Law in this country. Look who has petitioned for Shariate Law to apply in a lawsuit in a US court, brought by a US citizen against a US company. MoveOn.org? NOW? NEA? The Democratic Party? No… wait for it… Blackwater. The private military firm which is a darling of neocon foreign policy, which is invoking conservative Islamic theology in US courts. Hello, conservative America, check your monitors, you’ve flatlined again.

Fundie lunacy on paradeThe real world is the biblical world—a universe designed by God with the Earth at the spiritual focal point, not an evolutionary universe teeming with life. I see that someone has read Mainspring Powell's | Amazon thb | Audible ]. One of the not-obvious-from-the-text details in the worldbuilding is that the entire Universe is only about a lightyear in diameter, the stars being variously colored lamps in the sky. (Eventually I’ll write some fiction about astronauts in that world.) Ken Ham would be right at home there.

John Scalzi hits the nail on the “California Marriage Protection Act.” — More conservative idiocy. When the GOP spends its time and energy on red-meat-to-the-base issues like this, it only deepens my conviction that the Republican party is completely controlled by narrow-minded bigots. There’s no rational public policy reason for this kind of ugly prejudice, nor is there a “reasonable people can disagree” moral position.

Time in saddle: 0 minutes (still recovering from surgery)
Last night’s weigh-out: n/a
This morning’s weigh-in: 258.0
Currently reading: The Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia Amazon ]

Originally published at jlake.com. You can comment here or there.


[books|cancer] You guys…

Had lunch with kenscholes today. He gave me a package. In it were two copies of an anthology entitled Jay Lake: Intelligently Redesigned. I eventually wiped the tears of joy and laughter from my eyes, only to find myself overwhelmed.

neutronjockey, you have a lot to answer for. You and a bunch of other folks. You guys are the greatest.

I’ll give more details later, when I have more time. For now…wow…

Just wow.

Originally published at jlake.com. You can comment here or there.


[personal] A grand evening out

Went to dinner with garyomaha, elusivem, tillyjane and the_child at American Dream Pizza. I’m pretty wiped out, so probably shouldn’t have, but the boys are heading back to Nebraska Saturday and it was my last chance to see them.

I bragged, hard, on Jay Lake: Intelligently Redesigned. We’d read a couple of stories in the car on the way over, and just fallen out howling. I nearly ruptured myself laughing at djonn’s story at the front of the book. I’m way too tired to do a proper job tonight of crediting the perpetrators and photographing the cover, but trust me, this will be a serious cult classic. A lot of people here want copies, but the press seems to be imaginary, at least judging by the 221B Baker Street address, so I’m going to have to petition my connections.

And don’t none of you perps think you’re getting away without signing this for me.

I am so lucky in my friends. Thank you all.

Originally published at jlake.com. You can comment here or there.