Prejudiced Ignorant Hack of the Day: Mike Allen

Brian Zick

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Mike Allen at The Politico, in a rather painfully obvious effort to impugn Barack Obama's integrity with a snotty "gotcha," asks "Why has he sometimes said his first name is Arabic, and other times Swahili?" When he was growing up, his family, friends and teachers called him “Barry.” Then as a young man, he started insisting on “Barack,” explaining in a memoir published in 1995 that his grandfather was a Muslim and that it means “blessed” in Arabic. His dad, who was Kenyan, had gone by “Barry” -- probably trying to fit in when he came to the States, his son figured. On the campaign trail during his 2004 Senate race, Obama told reporters that “Barack” was Swahili for “blessed by God.” Brad DeLong introduces Allen to Mr. Google. Two minutes of Googling would have told Mike Allen that "barack" is both a Swahili word meaning "blessed by God" and an Arabic word meaning "blessed." There's been lots of trade between Swahili-speaking East Africa and the Arabic-speaking Middle East for millennia. That "barack" is a word in both languages is part of the same process by which the largest Swahili-speaking port in the world has a pure Arabic name--Dar es Salaam, meaning "House of Peace." Brad also points out that the same word b•r•k in a Hebrew rather than an Arabic accent: "baruch":"Baruch atah Adonai Elohenu melech ha'olam, asher kideshanu bemitzvotav vetzivanu l'hadlik ner shel Shabbat." "Blessed are you, O Lord our God, ruler of the universe, who has made us holy by your commandments and told us to light the Sabbath lights." Read Brad's whole post. via Atrios

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