What's In A Name, Chris Matthews?

Bill Hobbs
By Bill Hobbs | January 18, 2012 | 6:12 PM EST

An open letter to MSNBC's Chris Mathews:

Dear Chris,

May I call you Chris? We haven't ever met, but you've been in my home a lot via MSNBC so I feel like I know you. And it is your first name.

But I worry. See, back in 2008 conservatives learned that if we used Barack Obama's middle name, people like you, Chris, would call us racists. Just for using his actual middle name.

You know the name I'm talking about. H-----n.

Seems that - in the mind of the liberal media - if conservatives called Obama by his full name , Barack H-----n Obama, we were guilty of "racism" because mentioning his middle name, Hussein, was a "dog whistle" that alerted people that Obama was black, or something.

Never mind, of course, that H-----n is not a name tied to any one race. And never mind of course that the media was putting Barack Obama's picture on the TV and the Internet 24/7, and on every newspaper front page and magazine cover in America almost every day, and the average reader and viewer didn't need his name to see that he was "a person of color," as you liberals like to phrase it.

No, the name - the name, the NAME! - that's what did it. That was racist. Except of course when non-conservatives used the name, it wasn't racist for some reason.

Well, we gave you that one. Or, rather, John McCain did. He agreed with y'all that using Barack Obama's middle name was racist, and from then on the media took it as a given that any conservative who mentioned Obama's middle name was a racist.

We thought it would stop there. But now you are on record as accusing Newt Gingrich of once again blowing the racist dog whistle by calling Fox News' Juan Williams "Juan."

He called him by his first name.

The HORROR of it is unimaginable. It's right down there with the KKK and Sheriff Bull Connor's dogs and firehoses.

Apparently, Newt Gingrich figured out that no one in the live audience at the South Carolina debate knew that Juan Williams was black, even though he was sitting right in front of them. And apparently Newt Gingrich knew that the TV audience - which has seen Juan Williams on TV for years, didn't realize he was black - so he let them know by using the secret racist dog whistle code of using the man's name when speaking to him. Never mind that “Juan” is a Spanish name, and Spaniards typically aren't black, and there are plenty of people who aren't black who are named Juan. Apparently it's a racist dog whistle if a conservative calls a black man by his first name.

So, given how sensitive you are to the secret code implied by using people's names, I'm just not sure if I should call you “Chris.”

I mean, you're Irish, right? Well, I'm descended from Brits. You're Catholic, I'm Protestant. So, Chris, I'm afraid if I call you by your first name, "Chris," that I'll be accused of trying to blow some kind of bigoted anti-Irish dog whistle to remind people of "the Troubles" and the terrorism in Northern Ireland way back in the 1990s. Chris, I am afraid that if I call you Chris, you will accuse me of trying to make my readers think you are an IRA terrorist or something.

So, Chris, I'm going to stop calling you “Chris.”

I'm going to call "that idiot on the cable network I don't watch anymore."

Yep. You've lost another viewer. I think you're down to about 8 now.


Bill Hobbs

Nashville, Tennessee

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