Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Poor Man: Easy Answers to Stupid Questions, Part Double Infinity

Q: Mike Allen of the Politico asks:

Barack Obama’s free ride is ending. […]

Now, Obama’s about to endure a going-over that would make a proctologist blush. Why has he sometimes said his first name is Arabic, and other times Swahili? […]

Even his name offers fodder for the critics. 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.”

Whatever its origins, the exotic, multicultural name – so open to interpretation that some Irish folks he ran into assumed “O’Bama” must be one of theirs – is just one of the tools Obama has used to create a captivating narrative about himself as a post-partisan messiah for a nation weary of Potomac combat.


Arabic was so instrumental in the “birth” of Swahili that many non-linguists at one moment wanted to class it as a dialect of Arabic. The truth is that the various Arab trading posts attracted several speakers of different but related Bantu languages. These Bantu speakers could not communicate using a specific Bantu language, but they all needed basic rudiments of Arabic lexis to carry out commercial transactions [*cough* slave trade *cough*]. This situation led to the development of a lingua franca around each Arab trading post. But since, on one hand, the various Bantu languages demonstrated a high degree of lexical and morphosyntactic similarities, and, on the other hand, all these speakers interacted with one and the same common external language, Arabic, the resulting lingua franca in the various settlements, ended up by becoming mere dialects of a new language spoken by the coastal inhabitants - Swahili.

Shorter A: Stop. Writing. Forever.

Of course, at the moment the only people I hear raising this non-question are semi-literate talk radio nonentities like the galactically stupid Debbie Schlussel. But I lack access to the Politico’s patented FuturVision® Time-Travelling Journalistic Interocitor, and so cannot say with certainty what retarded insinuations will - as inevitably as the sunrise, and through nobody’s aggressive idiocy - soon be appearing in the stories which The Magical Press Elves cobble together while all good journalists are fast asleep all snug in their beds. And now, as a good journalist, Mr. Allen has fulfilled his obligation to repeat whatever “somebody” with a transparent agenda just told him anonymously, without once questioning whether he is being played for a complete idiot. For that would be partisan. And we mustn’t do that.

Via Andrew Sullivan, who, in the midst of the biggest debacle since Vietnam, hopes that Obama will “speak …” - wait for it! -”with civility”. If any of readers live near me, and own a sniper rifle, please kill me. Just get me in your crosshairs and take me the fuck out already. I can’t take it anymore.

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