Am I disrespecting the Prez-elect?

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I love the name Barack. It’s so unique. So masculine. So strong. Just like Barack Hussein Obama himself.

When I’m referring to him to my friends, I often say, “Barack, blah, blah, blah.” I notice other people do. One woman recently posted a comment on my blog on Essence.com asking that we stop calling Barack by his first name because it is disrespectful. She says we don’t call Sen. McCain “John” and she’s right. Yet it’s like comparing apples and oranges. There are a slew of Johns out there but only one Barack, not counting all of the newborns who now carry the name.

I understand her point that we should show deference and call him President Obama, Barack Obama, President-elect or something more than Barack. But I also feel that the more he is called Barack, the less often someone will slip and say Osama. Can’t you just hear it now, “U.S. President Osama ordered 3,000 more troops sent to Afghanistan today.” Plus, it’s sexy to say Barack.

Barack won’t be the first leader of the free world to be called by his first name. Remember, Honest Abe? And then some, like FDR, JFK and LBJ, just go by their initials. And consider what goes on in Iceland:

Believe it or not, all Icelanders are on a first name basis with their president. An Icelandic person can address his or her president in a public forum by his first name without causing public spectacle and attracting mass outcries of gross disrespect to their nation’s leader.

But how is this possible? Iceland has traditionally operated without surnames. Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark have traditionally used a patronymic naming pattern whereby children’s last names are derived from their fathers’ first names. Under this centuries-old Scandinavian naming pattern, Icelanders consider it a joke to address someone by his or her surname. A person’s first name is his or her official name.

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