A coalition of civil rights and media watchdog organizations is taking right-wing commentator Glenn Beck to task over disparaging remarks the talk show host made about President Obama‘s name.
The coalition quotes Beck from his national radio program as saying, “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.”
Obama was born in Hawaii to a Kenyan father and an American mother.
“Glenn Beck’s comments reveal the depth of his failure to grasp the true nature of America and of the American people,” says a statement by the coalition, which includes America’s Voice, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), Center for New Community, Color of Change, NCLR (National Council of La Raza), Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, and Media Matters.
“Ours is a nation of immigrants. Ours is a nation of proud individuals who celebrate their heritage as surely as they love the country in which they live,” the statement adds. “Ours is a nation that draws strength from its diversity, rather than rejecting it. And America is not a country that defines citizenship or patriotism based on color, or creed, or name.”
Obama ultimately settled in Chicago, where he became a community organizer, and later was elected to the Illinois state Senate before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004, and ultimately as president in 2008.
“In 2004, Senator Barack Obama explained that when growing up, he possessed ‘the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too.’ And he was right. It does,” the coalition’s statement says. “Mr. Beck’s inability to accept this fundamental quality of our nation — or at the very least his willingness to pander to those who reject it — should trouble us all. He owes an apology to the people of this great country.”
Obama’s entire identity has become a political issue in itself among many on the Right, through the “birther” movement of conservatives who — despite much and persistent evidence to the contrary –claim Obama is not actually a U.S. citizen and therefore cannot legally serve as president.
Former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) reportedly insisted on using Obama’s middle name, Hussein, during an angry speech at the Tea Party Convention earlier this month in Nashville, Tenn. Obama showed no hesitation himself in using his middle name, as is customary, when he was sworn in as president last year.
A former GOP candidate for president, Tancredo also was quoted as saying that Obama is a “committed Socialist ideologue” who was elected because “we do not have a civics, literacy test before people can vote.”
The publisher of the news site On The Hill, Scott Nance has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.