Monday, September 21, 2015

Name game that stains the land

"Ahmed" is every bit as American as "Joe."

"Hussein" is every bit as American as "Shaughnessy" or "Flannery" or "McGill."

Need this be said? Now, of those bigots who consider Irish-Americans to be lesser forms of Americans: They are oafs and nincompoops.

Worse, they are un-American. Irish-haters hate America.

Oh, wait; you were expecting this commentary to be a defense of the Muslims among us? Actually, that is unnecessary. The preamble to the Declaration of Independence reads that all of us are created equal. Who needs a review?

           Donald Trump, for one. Sarah Palin, for two. Ben Carson, for three.

Trump doesn't owe Barack Obama an apology for smirking and shrugging when a supporter said the president is a Muslim and "not even an American."

No, Trump owes humanity an apology. So does Carson for saying a Muslim shouldn't be president.

Palin? What can be said for a hopeless case of intellect-lock? She felt that the world needed her to defend the actions of Irving, Texas, officials who handcuffed, arrested and suspended from school Ahmed Mohamed, the mild-mannered teen who brought a homemade clock to McArthur High.

          Palin said they acted "reasonably." No, taking such actions after determining the device was no bomb was not reasonable.

We know what this is about: It's not the boy's inventiveness; it's about his name.

Yeah, 14-year-old Ahmed is a threat, with his high grades, bright eyes and brighter ambitions to be an inventor.

A 2012 study by Partnership for the New American Economy found that more than 75 percent of patents at the major patent-awarding universities had at least one foreign-born inventor.

There's one problem with this rationalization as pertains to Ahmed, though: He is no foreigner. He is as American as you, as me, as any old Joe.

Ahmed's father, Elhassan, came here from Sudan three decades ago. He started a business. He raised a fine and smart family.

He is, however, a Muslim. That apparently is a problem.

So said the questioner whom Trump refused to correct when saying Obama is "not an American." The man followed up with, "How can we get rid of (Muslims)?"

It is stunning that a man who seeks to represent all American citizens as chief executive would not take a moment to denounce, or at least distance himself from, the horrible racism in those words.

But that's not been Trump's shtick, not from the moment he launched his campaign by broad-brushing undocumented people as murderers and rapists.

What makes Trump popular with a certain, increasingly solid, segment? It certainly isn't his policy positions. An Associated Press analysis calls them "glaringly undeveloped."

Let us trace back every original word attributed to candidate Trump at this point. Let's search for anything that hasn't appealed to rank ethno-centrism. You can't find much. Throw in sexism, and we've just about got Trump's general appeal covered.

It was odd that in the CNN debate some of the Republican candidates took shots at Chief Justice John Roberts. Odd because it was Roberts who, in voting with the majority to invalidate a key portion of the Voting Rights Act, implied that this nation is in a post-racial era.

A recent poll finds that 43 percent of Republicans believe Obama to be a Muslim. Unbelievable -- first that they would still think this to be true, second that it would matter at all if Obama were. What this says is that Justice Roberts is wrong.

Post-racial? You jest. Racism afflicts this nation just as it did when slave ships sailed, just as it does wherever people are hated because of things beyond their control – their names, for one.

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado.

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