Like many others, I’ve noticed that some news commentators have mistakenly called Barrack Obama by the name “Osama.” Dan Rather even went so far as to accidentally refer to Obama as “Osama Bin Laden.”
While it is tempting to believe that the “slips” are actually intentionally, there are good reasons to accept that at least some of the slips are just that.
First, some of the news commentators (such as Dan Rather) seem to be at least neutral towards Obama. hence, they are probably not intentionally trying to link him with Osama. Second, both men are famous and the names do sound very similar. So, a slip is easy to imagine. Third, people tend to be rather bad at pronouncing names. For example, my last name is “LaBossiere” and people constantly butcher my name when trying to pronounce it. Some are close. For example, “la-booze-er”: perhaps they think I drink heavily. Some throw in an extra letter, usually “m” for some unknown reason (perhaps it slides in from my first name “Mike”). For example, I’ve heard “lamb-oozer”: perhaps they think I ooze lambs. I also get “lamb bruiser”: perhaps they think I strike lambs. So, people accidentally mispronouncing a name need not be the sign of anything sinister.
That said, there are some grounds to suspect that the use of “Osama” for “Obama” is not a slip in some cases. Some people in the media have attempted to link Obama with Islam in rather unsubtle ways. Given this fact, it would hardly be shocking if some of the “slips” were intentional attempts to link Obama and Osama in the minds of voters.
Interestingly, 12% of the people polled in a recent survey believed that Obama is a Muslim. This is up from the 10% in a previous survey. Naturally, since the difference is within the margin of error, there might not have been an actual increase. However, the fact that about 10% of those polled believe this is rather telling. It could also have an impact on the upcoming election. Or perhaps not-my guess is that those 10% would probably not vote for Obama even if they knew for sure he is a Christian.
Some people might be inclined to think that the slips are no big deal. On one hand, I agree. People make mistakes, such slips probably won’t have much impact on voting behavior and most Americans are bad at pronouncing “foreign sounding” names like “Obama” and “LaBossiere.” On the other hand, I do worry a bit that such slips are a big deal. After all, they could (as argued above) sometimes be the result of an intention to link Obama with Islam in the hopes of influencing voters. Also, I think that the folks in the media should take some time to get the man’s name right.