What’s in a Name?

There is a family in northeast Pennsylvania who wanted the bakery at their local ShopRite supermarket to make a cake for their son and they were upset that the store refused to put their child’s name in the frosting. They went public thinking that they would get some sympathy–all they wanted, after all, was for their son to celebrate his birthday as other children do–but the compassion wasn’t forthcoming. Clearly this is one of those stories that necessitates an understanding of ALL of the facts. So here they are:  the child’s name is Adolph Hitler Campbell. (Pictured in the photo is JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell, Adolph’s younger sister, and the father.)  Keep in mind that “Adolph Hitler” is just a name; nothing more than a unique vocalization that creates a sound that others can recognize as descriptor for, in this case, another person. But most of us don’t look at it like this particular name because attached to the sound of Adolph Hitler are some very dark associations.

This reminds me that Adolph is one of those names that has been pretty much stricken from the list of options in all but white supremacist communities. It used to be a pretty common German name, and a nice one at that.  But the actions of one man ruined it for all of the future Adolphs of the world.  Osama is another, unless you run with certain crowds. And while many Hispanics name their boys Jesus, how many English speakers refer to their son by the same name as the being who Christians consider to be the “Son of God”?  “Come up here Jesus and clean your room like I told you.” That sounds like the start of a good joke.  Why does that somehow work in one culture but not another?  Nobody thinks twice about Jesus the Mexican taxi driver or Krishna the Indian waiter.

Like the fish that can’t comprehend the water that is all around it, most of us miss the chance to see the funny and ironic connections between names and meanings in our own culture.  If I said that Bulgarians are prone to naming one another after trees and that Oak, Maple, Hickory, and Pine were particularly popular, most of us would think this odd since we don’t do it in our culture.  But 19th and 20th century English speakers in both North America and Great Britain commonly named their children after flowers such as Rose, Violet, Daisy, Lily, Iris, and Hyacinth.  And along with old school names like Hazel and Hannah and Emma, little girls are once again receiving such flowery monikers.
So below is an article on the unique names that many Zimbabweans give their children.  Their creativity is reminiscent of Native Americans and names such as Huata (which means Carrying Seeds in a Basket) or Kaliska (which means Coyote Chasing Deer).  Both are from the Miwok Tribe — who appear to be particularly creative as compared to people who name their children Bob and Bill and Sue.
I guess I’m struck by how many names have some deeper meaning that has been lost along the way, and how often do we find things of other cultures funny and strange when we could see the same phenomenon in our own way of life — if we were interested enough to look.  Check out the article and then reflect on how often you find the names of others odd.
Samuel, by the way, means “one who is heard by God.”

259 Comments

  • Anonymous says:

    Adolph Hitler and Osama are simply names; however, many societies, including our own, have associated these names with dark histories. Different cultures will see various names in different lights. People who have had a great impact on history are always floating around in people’s minds. Is associating names with historical figures bad? I do not think so, it is inevitable. Many of these historic figures have become symbols of what they stood for in life. Adolph Hitler has become a symbol of hatred, murder, and genocide. I believe naming your child after such a symbol is crossing the line and is morally wrong. But there is really nothing anyone can do about it, you can name your children whatever you want, it is constitutionally protected.

    It is obvious that the parents of these children are white supremacists and the brainwashing is starting at a very early age. What is to become of these children? By the looks of it they starting down a long road of hatred and distorted views. The chances that they will become productive members of our society are very slim. In our group discussion we talked about how much parents influence their children. Someone argued that it is possible that these children have a chance grow into normal adults. Just because someone is named after a certain person does not mean that they have to follow their footsteps. This is true; however, the chances are very slim. Parents and the environment the children are raised in have a tremendous effect on their development. Ideals and beliefs are almost always transfused from parent to child.

    Each culture has different beliefs behind naming their children. Some cultures use names describing the weather on the day of birth, while others use names of flowers or trees. Each culture has its own unique method of naming and it is inevitable for other cultures to see others as odd. This plays into Sam’s lecture on ethnocentrism and that one’s culture is better than the others. The best way to get over this is to become open-minded and realize that there is no better cultural practice. You really have to put yourself in the shoes of someone on the other side. It is not an easy thing to do.

    We also discussed the discrimination of names. It is too easy for people to hear a name and automatically come up with an image in their head. It is how we associate people with names. When a name is brought up, people usually create an image in their head of what the person may look like. Derek, Bill, Jim are usually associated with white people, while Willie, Tanisha, and Tyrell are usually associated with black people. I think that name association is inevitable; it is just something that people do.

  • Anonymous says:

    First of all, I think the names Adolph Hitler Campbell and JoyceLinn Aryan Nation Campbell are completely absurd. The only reason anybody would decide to do that is somebody who wants attention. I feel bad for the children for having to go through life with those names. In this day and age, how can a kid named Adolph Hitler hope to have anything that resembles a normal life, because it is a name that everyone knows, and everyone has been conditioned to dislike. Nobody is going to want to be friends with him. Maybe even moreso for the girl. Other girls are going to be incredibly turned off by her middle names Aryan Nation. These kids had no say in what names they received, not to mention the fact that they have to be raised by people who think it’s a good idea to associate their kids after a man who was responsible for the death of millions of lives. If they do not change their names, their lives will be forever influenced by the burden their parents placed upon them. Nobody is going to want to hire them. Nobody wants employees with those names. Can you imagine a desk with those names engraved into the front of them.
    Now to the part about the bakery refusing to put the child’s name on a cake. Granted, it is a ridiculous name, but the bakery is in business to make cakes and take the orders of customers. Refusing to put a name on a cake, simply on the grounds that that name has an extremely negative connotation in today’s American society, is simply bad business. No one outside of the business would know that they had ever done it, and by the family bringing it into the public forefront can only do bad things for a business. The fact that they did bring it to the public supports my theory about how the name choices are solely based on the fact that they wanted attention. What better than take advantage of this bakery ordeal to gain public attention?
    While it makes sense for the bakery to fulfill the cake order from a business standpoint, I can see why they chose not to do so, simply based on moral principles. Because of the horrific events that happened during the Holocaust, even speaking the name evokes such negative thoughts in people’s minds today that it makes sense for the owner of the bakery to not want to put the name on one of the goods that his business produces. As unlikely as it is, if someone outside of the business had heard of the cake order, there is always the possibility of bad publicity because of the negative connotations that the name has.

  • Erica says:

    In response to naming a child Adolph Hitler I personally thing that is a huge mistake on the parents side because when they name their child this they must have not had the thought in their mind that their child would get tormented throughout life. There is so much history behind this man’s name and the fact that many people are still suffering from his actions hearing this name just brings back dark feelings and memories about what happen only about 60 years ago. Now I do think that they have the right to name their child whatever they please that is why we have freedom of speech in our country. So you can’t look at them and get mad because it is their child and they realized what they are naming this child and the future consequences that they may have to deal with as he grows. Freedom of speech is just the start of this case they fact of where they reside is another indication as to why they may have name their child this. As many people know Pennsylvania is for the most part a very rural state and there are many beliefs that were around during WWI and WWII that still exist in the minds of people living today. And that is when you have to think about what type of country or even neighborhood that we are living in today. Because even your next store neighbor may have some feelings towards you because of your skin color that you would have never thought they would have. I think that this family that named their child Adolph Hitler because they were making a statement, who knows exactly what that statement was but it is clear that there is one. Now with the Zimbabweans names I think that in some cases that naming your child “Nevertrustwomen” because his wife cheated on him is kind of weird because you would never encounter someone with that name no matter what their family member has done. I do believe that naming your child after something great that happened around their birth is beautiful, for example, naming your child sunshine, greatness, justice, or pure. I think naming a child is a subject that really doesn’t have much discussion, unless someone wants attention and feels as though they need to bring attention to their lives. I think the fact that the Shoprite market is rude and uncalled for because once freedom of speech comes into play and you have to just take it for what it is. While on the other hand I think that whoever worked at the Shoprite may have felt offended, or maybe just being rude. Overall I am kind of 50-50 on this situation because just because the child’s name is Adolph Hitler doesn’t mean that he will grow to have the same values and act that same way. But then you have to think of what the parents are instilling in him, because I am sure that one day he is going to ask where he got his name from and I just wonder what they are going to tell him.

  • Anonymous says:

    There is more to a name than what you write on paper or what it says on your birth certificate. Names bear more significance than we think. Your name affects your relationships, your opportunities, and your personality. When parents pick a name for their child, part of it is prophetic. And there are some who just name their children with something that just sounds nice. Different cultures find different names attractive. Regardless if the incentive behind the name, names still have an impact on the bearer and others. When a parent names their child Adolf, they cannot say they are ignorant to the history behind the name. Campbell even goes as far as giving his son the middle name “Hitler” as the icing on the cake. Mr. Campbell names his son Adolf Hitler. I doubt that this was purely coincidental. He knew what he was doing when he named is child Adolf Hitler. He likely expected a reaction out of those around him. We know about Adolf Hitler and his role in the Holocaust. So one must ask them self what Mr. Campbell was thinking when he gave his child this name. I feel that it was a selfish act on the father’s part. The child will likely receive more criticism for his name than the publicity his father received. What happens when Adolf Hitler Campbell applies for a job and a Jew reviews his application? The fact of the matter is the child will be refused some services and privileges because of his name.

    So “what’s in a name”? A person’s name expresses their heritage, their culture, and their history. Unfortunately, I don’t know the history behind my name. Campbell is Celtic and Gaelic in origin. It means “wry-mouth, the man whose mouth inclined a little on one side”. However, the name Adolf represents the ideals of white supremacy. There is no culture behind that name. As I said before, Mr. Campbell knew of the impact that naming his child “Adolf”.

    Every name has a story. The most interesting names are original. Native Americans have been known for having names that speak out loud. Older media made of mockery of Native American culture claiming that Native Americans give long-winded names. “Little Bear” and “White Moon Wolf” are names that mock Native American culture. Although those names seem funny to the common American, some Native Americans find these names appealing and desirable. The article really hit home considering my old roommate was a Puerto-Rican by the name of Jesus. Being a Christian, I did find it hard to refer to my roommate as the man I call the son of GOD. I couldn’t even call him Jesus if I said it with the Spanish accent.

  • Anonymous says:

    Names are created and used to vocally describe a person or thing. They don’t need to mean anything, but it is nice to have a deeper significance than just a few letters put together. Whether that means paying homage to another human, plant, animal, or historical event, it doesn’t matter. Every North American Indian had a unique name in their tribe. This name was either derived from a sacred ritual, or personal achievement. One’s name not only described a person, but it explained and enlightened others as to what was important and what great achievements each family possessed. It was not only the Native Americans that used names as more than just an indicator. This practice was used all through out the world’s history. This ancient tradition of putting meaning behind one’s name seems to have dissipated in the western culture over the last couple of generations, which is really rather disappointing. How many people can be named Mark, Nick, Megan, and Liz? There is just not enough variety anymore. People nowadays stick to a handful of unoriginal and boring names. No one wants his or her child to have an “odd” name. Certain names may look odd to people, because they are not familiar with the dialect or customs of various cultures, but based on the tradition of naming, names without meaning are the odd ones. I personally think it’s a little depressing to see this tradition end. People are scared to break away from the mold and try something new, but I must say the dude in the picture has effectively broken the mold by naming his son Adolph Hitler and making his daughter’s middle name Aryan Nation. He has also put meaning behind their names, by relating them to something or someone that he feels is important. Although an Aryan nut job, he is actually doing a brave and courageous thing by naming his children something outside of the box and attempting to revive the tradition of putting meaning behind names. He is just incorporating meanings or significances that most people, including myself disagree with. I feel truly sorry for his children, and am relieved to hear that they have been removed from their Neo Nazi father’s care. To touch on the ShopRite aspect of this, I find it righteous and honorable for the bakery to deny this man’s request. The name Adolph Hitler brings back horrifying memories for most of the world, and for this man to glorify him through his son’s name is not only wrong, but repulsive. While reading other blogs, I have noticed that some people disagree and find it odd to name someone after a significant person or event. Which is well within their right and I understand their logic, but I believe it would be nice to see some originality in the world.

  • Rob Ballard says:

    First off, I would just like to say I think it is pretty funny that Professor Richards included the story about Adolf Hitler Campbell. The reason I find this so funny is because my father, who is a lawyer in New Jersey, represents the Shop Rite at which the Campbells tried to get this cake made. He told me about an impending lawsuit the Campbells were trying to file against the Shop Rite months ago, which by the way is in NEW JERSEY Sam. My childhood friend’s dad actually owns the Shop Rite they are talking about, which is in Greenwich, New Jersey. The greatest part about this whole situation is that money grubbing Wal-Mart actually made the cake which read, “Happy Birthday Adolf Hitler!” If I remember correctly the parents also put a Swastika or two on the cake as well. You can always count on Wal-Mart for trying to make that extra buck. I think it is absolutely ridiculous that there are people on this blog who think that it is wrong of Shop Rite to not make this cake. It is one thing when you have child from Zimbabwe named Smile or Hatred, but Adolf Hitler is on a whole different level. These people are obviously sick in the head to name their children Adolf Hitler and Aryan Race. I feel bad for their kids that they have to go through life with such disgusting names. There are a lot of bad feelings that go through people’s heads, especially those with a Jewish background, whenever those names are brought up. Adolf Hitler was responsible for the deaths of over six million people in his lifetime, and to name your kids after him and what he stood for is despicable. I am over half German myself, and these people still make me sick to my stomach. It isn’t just a name, these parents deliberately named their kids Adolf Hitler and Aryan Race to announce their support for Hitler and the Nazi regime. With all of this being said, in other cases a name is just a name. Take for example the Zimbabwe child who was named Never Trust A Woman, after his adulterous mother. I personally think this is hilarious, because it is just a clever joke. It is not nearly the same as what the Campbells did. At the same time, I would never name my son or daughter any of these names. A name is something you have to live with every day. People get made fun of all the time for having silly names, and I would never want to put my son or daughter through that. I could also never justify naming my daughter Apple or Racecar. I also wouldn’t name my 6 sons George Foreman like the great boxer did. That is just plain stupid. I guess the point I’m trying to get at is that you should think about your son or daughter’s life and what it is going to be like if you name them something stupid. I think it is pretty selfish to name your kid something that is going to amuse you. If it has meaning it is one thing, but Apple or Blanket? Really? REALLY??

  • Anonymous says:

    As a person who used to tell the occasional racial joke I now believe that racial slurs and jokes are unacceptable. While many people think that racial jokes are acceptable around our fiends and families they are not. I used to be one of these people; I found some racial jokes humorous and I told a few myself but now that I have thought about the affects that racial jokes have on the community, my friends and family, as well as myself I have found that they are not funny at all. When someone tells a racial joke in private it is thought that as long as no one is offended it is acceptable (Note: I believe the word offend is a word that is defined by people individually so for example I could never be able to tell if something will offend you the reader). Although no one is offended at the time the joke is told, I guarantee that the same joke will be told again and again until someone that hears it is offended and that is why people need to start being aware of what they say and how it can make other people feel. I believe that this touchy subject can be compared to Dr. Richards’s example in class about how Middle Easterners view Americans as religious crusaders trying to take their oil. They view us the way a person being offended by a joke views the narrator. Americans are not all religious crusaders and all racial joke tellers are not all racist. But when you offend someone with a racial joke they will most likely view you as a racist. This proves that it does not matter what you really want or believe because if you project a negative image of yourself a single time people will remember that moment over everything.
    The picture of the White House with watermelons and the racial songs are offensive and ignorant. They were clearly done by someone that has a major is understanding about the people they are mocking. And if I were to define racism in the United States I would do so by calling it a misunderstanding of any people of your race or another.

  • Anonymous says:

    In a Land of Homemade Names – Tiffany doesn’t Cut It article provides an interesting look into another country’s culture and is certainly worth examining. While reading this article one may think to themselves (as an American) what the heck kind of names are these crazy people in this crazy country giving to their kids?! Names such as “Godknows”, “Wedding” and “Passion” are real names given to children in Zimbabwe. Obviously in America names such as these would not be acceptable or even brought up in a conversation between parents for potential children names. But if you are willing to take a step back and take yourself out of the American perspective you have so naturally developed and take a look at American names you will notice a few nuances. For instance, why is it ok for Americans to name children after flowers and months of the year? If you are American and your name is April there is nothing wrong with that right? But what if a foreigner comes up totally unaware of what our culture deems acceptable and asks you what your name is, and you reply April and they just start laughing hysterically. They proceed to ask you, “Is that a joke?” and while chuckling, utter “You’re named after a month of the year?” How would you feel as an American?
    Zimbabweans chose to name their children after events or feelings, which in my opinion is more relevant then a month of the year! But because the “American Culture” does not accept these types of names the Zimbabweans are shunned and laughed at. As an American, a “free American” I am ashamed of our behavior in these situations including the situation with the young child named Adolf trying to get a cake done.
    I’d also like to take another angle at this naming game. Obviously the child at the cake shop wasn’t allowed to have his named iced onto a cake because he was named Adolf; enough said. Adolf a popular German name for most of history has now been all but eliminated and if still around you will see instances such as the one in PA occur time after time. So lets turn the tables here and look at it from this perspective.
    Suppose you were a middle easterner and also unaware of the ins and outs of American culture and you are shown the same videos which us SOC 119 kids were shown in class the other day. You don’t like the Americans who are coming to take your oil and invade on your land. The leader of the Americans at this time is named George W. Bush. Ok do you see where I’m going with this? George W. Bush becomes a bad evil name that is looked down upon to these foreign countries. Therefore if someone in your country comes to your shop and says hey I’d like to have something made with the name George on it what would you expect them to say? They’re going to say the same thing you would say if someone came up to you in American and asked to produce something with the name Osama!
    Ultimately as Americans we need to have more open minds to other names in other cultures because we have to put an end to our obliviousness and our belief that we are the only ones who exist on this earth.

  • Anonymous says:

    When naming is considered there are many ways in which people carry out this action as well as many meanings behind certain names based on different times, people, and cultures. For instance in my family for three generations children take their parents names as their middle name, i.e. my mother’s name is Dawn so therefore my name is Kirsten Dawn Burghardt. In addition my grandfather was from Scandinavia which is why I am named Kirsten in Scandinavian it means walks with God.

    Depending on culture, names are picked in many different ways and have different meanings. To respond to naming your child Jesus, it is my belief that in the Hispanic culture this is a positive thing meaning that your children will be blessed. Many strong Christians decide to name their children after people portrayed in the Bible for example, Matthew, Thomas, Ruth, Luke, John; so it would not be common for other cultures religions to use this same type of process. Also names may have meanings; many Jewish names are this way Sarah meaning princess or Samuel meaning one who is heard by god. In addition different cultures name in different ways, with an example being Native Americans who have very specific names as well as Native American names. Two other cultures in which this is true is among those who are Catholic or Jewish in which they take specific religious names that are in addition to given names.I have not even discussed the ideas in which Americanized celebrities choose to name their children.

    Besides culture or heritage another thing that differentiates names to a large degree is the time era in which they are given. Last semester I took a management information system class where one of the exhibits was a database that will tell you what names were popular in what year. I think that it is unfortunate that there is a negative connotation for naming children after public figures, but as a parent would you have to think very long to actually name your child Adolf Hitler. I am surely not going to name my son George Bush Last Name, and that has nothing to do with if I like the public figure or not. I think a name should be original. I also believe that a name is something that will be with you forever and life so it needs to be a good one. If society can not accept such a name as Adolf Hitler Campbell, then someone should not name their son this name. I understand that the parent has the right to be unique, but you also have to think about the sake of the kid. Personally my name has been misspelled, miss pronounced for most of my life (because of very similar sound names) including being written wrong on my high school diploma. However, I do not think that I would ever change it because it is unique and who I am. So I think that there is a very fine line between having originality when naming a child and being in the social norms. This very topic reminds me of a scene in “Father of The Bride,” when they are discussing if they are going to hyphenate there name as well as what their going to name their son. Mr. Banks played by Steve Martin gives the example we do not want our grandson to be beat up in school give him a solid name like George.

  • Marko Zyznewsky says:

    In all honesty, I can understand why the bakery refused to arrange a cake with the name “Adolph Hitler” on it. Dr. Richards brings up a few solid points, it is true – names in society are just “names” or just “unique vocalizations that create a sound that others can recognize as descriptor for”. Names used prominently for identity – to tell between people in a culture or society. Many names are shared across cultures, even names like Adolph – they just appear more frequently in types of culture where these names are most popular. In this example, as Dr. Richards shows in his blog, it used to be a pretty common German name (and a nice one at that). But to say that the actions of one man ruined it for all of the future Adolphs of the world is a not an accurate statement. I believe that everyone should be proud of their name, because it shows that you aren’t just another person. You are your own identity with a name signifying the cultures and backgrounds that you come from. I think that even the Adolphs should be proud of their heritage, but it’s almost as if you enter uncharted territory when this name is used in a culture such as the United States.
    The reason such dispute broke out over the birthday cake incident is because we live in a culture in the United States where such a name has completely negative connotations. If we were to approach this situation without bias, one would say that you should look at Adolph as a completely separate person from the connotation his name exists: the evil dictator Adolf Hitler from World War II. Ethics tells us that we shouldn’t treat a person any differently from this name, but unfortunately in this situation the negative connotations of the word “Adolph” outweigh the possibility of not making any judgments. However such a prominent figure is what stops many from looking at young Adolph Hitler Campbell as just another American human being. Perhaps it’s ignorance, perhaps it’s absent-mindedness, but either way Americans can be shown in the limelight for making judgments and stereotypes.
    What happened to being able to respect your name, the origin of your name and your background? Why can’t people embrace themselves for whatever background they are? I always grew up being told by my parents that “I am me, and no one else”. Why would you want to be someone else if you are already a person? People should approach situations like these with caution and take a step back from reality to see it from someone else’s view. We as Americans should be able to embrace our racial and ethnic backgrounds because we are a country based on immigration in the first place – now let’s embrace it!

  • Anonymous says:

    Names are very important in our society since is they way that we are identified by. What a parent decides to name his or her child is really his or her own business. Naming a child Adolf Hitler does not mean that the child possesses the same trait is a the evil man who was in Nazi Germany. The bakery deciding to put the child’s name on the birthday cake is completely bogus. Who gave them the right to decide who’s name can be put on a cake and who’s can’t. No one has that authority and if I was the parent of that child, I would sue the hell out of those ignorant individuals. Is the child the one who committed those crimes in Germany or he is here killing every Jew he comes across? When I heard this news it really irked me but hey it seems many Americans think that the bakery was right with going ahead with their decision. Does this mean that if I name my child say Ted Bandy, his name shall never be seen on a birthday that is mad publicly? Please, I think Americans really need to reevaluate their way of judging people unfairly.
    Going to the article about the Zimbabweans, I find that every interesting and it seems to be something that is not just a trait in southern Africa but almost every other African country. I am African and my name actually means “God’s Grace. This is really common thing to do amongst african christians but I feel that, parents
    do consider the kind of looks that people will give their children which is why they do not actually use the english names. Anyway, the discussion here is names and the significance of them. Different people give names on the basis of their general liking, past experience or in the honor of someone who has been good to them hoping that the child may pick some of the traits of the person they have been named after. As they grow up, they might venture on a total different lifestyle simply because they are not the person they were named after. A child can be named Lucifer but can be a very strong christian. His parents might have named him that just to bring him up in a manner that will portray to the rest of the world that the name he has does not ,mean that he will be the devil himself living on earth. Lets go on to president Obama’s middle “Hussien”. Did anyone realize how much controversy that caused. Random people calling him moslem and so on when he clearly stated and was proved to be christian. A name is a freaking name. Whatever a person does, does not always reflect their upbringing. We need to learn to eliminate such unwarranted branding.

  • Anonymous says:

    I found the article “In a Land of Homemade Names, Tiffany Doesn’t Cut It” to be very interesting. I think that a parent has the right to name their child whatever they want. It is their child and they have every right to name it as they please. With that being said, I feel there is a certain line that should not be crossed when naming someone. If a name is truly going to damage the son or daughter’s future then I feel that this is crossing the line. Naming your son Adolph Hitler Campbell is completely unnecessary. It is very sad that this kid will grow up to be teased and made fun of, not to mention maybe even hurt, for the name that he has. If I was a teacher and I had a student named Adolph Hitler, I would think the parents were prejudice. This would worry me about the lifestyle that the boy was growing up in. It also makes me wonder about the parents motives for naming their child Adolph Hitler.
    However, I do like that parents name their children after traditional tribal names or a recording of an event. It is not offensive to anyone and it is very socially acceptable. For instance, I find it entirely acceptable for a family to name their newborn Wind, for the type of weather, or Everloving, for the feelings given to the child. But, the name Adolph Hitler is extremely unacceptable and an insult to many people around the world.
    Adolph Hitler has brought pain and suffering to numerous families in the history of the world. Not to mention the fact that his Nazi views killed millions of people. So naming your son after a mass murderer is completely inappropriate. I am very upset at the lack of respect that these parents have for society. I agree that it would be just like naming your son Osama Bin Laden. It is completely wrong and unnecessary. It makes you question why a parent would name someone they love such a criminal name. If you truly love someone, you would look out for their future and not put this burden on them to endure for the rest of their lives.
    I would never want my child to have to deal with the problems of growing up with a criminal name. When I think of children’s names, Adolph and Osama are not even on my list. I have no problem with different tribal names, or cultural names, but giving a newborn a socially unjust name is just wrong. They will have to deal with that name for the rest of their lives, or until they are old enough to legally get it switched. So instead of making your son or daughter deal with this burden just be responsible for yourself and your children.

  • Anonymous says:

    What’s in a name? Good question. I love the idea that names should be something more deep and meaningful, like in the article. I think I like that because, well…it makes sense. Your name is something that you’re born with, you die with, that stays with you your entire life (unless you really hate your name and get it legally changed the day you turn 18, or go by something else your whole life, like the kid Frances in my section who goes by Danny, my ex-boyfriend Eric who goes by Karl, or my friend Thomas who goes by Randy). Your name identifies you, defines you, represents you. You’re known by your name; with the exception of formal institutions and government stuff, your name is all people know you by, especially people you don’t deal with face to face. Your name is your most personal and common identity.
    On the other hand, is this suggesting that names should mean more than they should? What is in a name anyway? A title, a signifier, a group of letters that produce a sound that let people know what they should call you. Shouldn’t you be so much more than just your name? Should your name really have anything to do with who you actually are? A lot of people have the exact same name; it’s kind of not impossible, seeing as there are over 6 billion people in this world, and that’s not counting all the people who have ever lived here on this Earth in the thousands of years that people have been around. A name could mean nothing at all; to a lot of people it doesn’t.
    But I digress. Severely. The idea of a name having a deeper meaning in the context of that individual’s life is foreign and beautiful to me. It would never fly in our culture, but as Jason Mraz says, “our name is our virtue,” and I think he has something going there. When you introduce yourself, why shouldn’t you have pride in what you introduce yourself as? Our society in particular puts a lot of emphasis on words and language (to some extent, and in some situations more than others).
    I’m decently proud of my name. There’s nothing in particular to be proud of; it’s a simple name, a common name, one that has been the number one girl’s name for the last ten years, at least. But when someone shares my name, I feel an odd kindred with them, a connection that you can’t have with anyone else in the entire world; it’s different than a sister, a best friend, a parent, a worst enemy, or someone you graduated with. It’s different than anything else – you’re name twins. A stupid and immature thing, to be sure, but at the same time it’s a deep connecting bond that you subconsciously acknowledge. Famous people who have my name make me proud; objects and brands with my name make me childish with glee (“Look! Emily’s Chocolate-Covered Fortune Cookies! Look! Emily the Strange! Let’s buy lots of stuff with my name on it!” Doesn’t everyone do that…?). My name speaks to my Irish-German heritage with sprinkles of British and Welsh (the Emily comes from the British I guess), which I am fiercely proud of as well. While it might not fit my look or personality, it makes up part of who I am and I wouldn’t change it to anything else even if I could.
    What’s in a name? I guess it’s different for everyone.

  • Anonymous says:

    When I read this article I found it to be amusing and intriguing on how we as humans associate certain words and sounds to create our own meaning in them. I sympathize with the child for being denied his birthday cake; because in all honesty the word Adolph is just that, a word. Actually it is a very nice name before a madman ruined it. But it is the same way for how we think of a swastika. In ancient times this symbol represented love and the peace, but because of the Nazi’s we all just see the negative aspects of it. Should that take away its previous meaning? By naming your child Adolph you are neither condoning nor condemning anything to do with anything else, it applies simply to the individual only. The only part of the story that bothered me was when the parents named the child’s middle name HITLER! I think they were just asking for trouble. Now that could be construed as something because it bares his last name. But again this child is their own person and has his own identity, who are we to deny these folks the right to name their child anything they want. If the parents named their child Michael Bolten would we be offended and scared that this kid would grow up and start singing terrible songs, so why are we afraid that this kid is going to revitalize the Third Reich. In a perfect world we would all just accept things like this and move on, but we don’t live in a perfect world do we. In my hometown there was a man that lived pretty close to me that was named Bill Clinton. I swear to God! Should I assume that he is having an affair with a woman named Monica; it doesn’t matter because he’d probably lie about it. Or should republicans be allowed to punch him in the face just for walking down the street. It is all bullshit. Who gives a shit about what anyone of these idiots call themselves! Why does it have to be our problem or discussion in the first place? If you are offended by what a complete stranger names their kid then you are the one that needs help. Names and language in general are all arbitrary, it is constantly changing and developing threw time. Don’t believe me, then look into an old dictionary and you will see words that we use now that meant something else entirely 100 years ago. Basically what I’m saying is that we need to look past some of the things we have given significance to in our lives and question whether they really have any significance at all.

  • Anonymous says:

    I am surprised and am well-aware about how people react to such names, including mine. Harsh, is English means rough, while in Hindi (language of India) it means happiness and joy and is also pronounced slightly differently. Normally, when I hear of an unusual name I really am anxious to know if it has a meaning to it and most of the names are beautiful. I really appreciate names other than the usual that ever Tom, Dick and Harry have.

    Regarding the Adolph Hitler part, I feel that it is very inconsiderate of the baker and simultaneously very immature to not sign the name, however unless he is a Jew, that would be understandable. I believe that with such names like Adolph Hitler and Saddam and Osama etc… people will always have some sort of a bad image. Nevertheless, what happens to those people who are already named that.

    I have lived in such a multi-racial and international environment that every Chinese person has some sort of name without a vowel, every Indian person knew another person who was named after a God or Goddess such as Ram or Krishna. Even in America, you have the Greeks, Italians and traditional Europeans where they have such awesome names which sound and have such great meanings.

    After reading the article the only thing which was shocking yet funny was this part, “If a Sotho-speaking girl becomes pregnant before marriage, her unhappy parents may name the baby Question or Answer — an answer to the question of why their daughter was behaving so strangely before the pregnancy became known.” This also makes me realize how much people actually care about the meaning of their names. However, in this generation not a lot of the Americans know their own meaning of their names but if you go back ages ago you can find out what it means, such as Samuel, which means “one who is heard by God”.

    I mean, to sum it up, a name is a name right? The meanings are just another bonus to how you appear and have the personalities as a person. Although, I think a name is just a name with no significant meaning in American Society I think it was interesting to see how in other countries names can be perceived extremely different. I just think names have to be taken also with a sense of understanding an acceptance knowing that there is more to a name and not making quick sheer judgments. Names can be put and labeled on anyone, can you imagine an American being called anything but the usual? And just to relate to our previous class, isn’t that something similar to ethnocentrism? People feel normal about their own cultural names than others, which definitely has to be true.

  • Anonymous says:

    I do find the names of others odd every now and then, but it usually when I see someone named something and they don’t really look like that name. For instance someone who is named Tiffany, but they do not look like a Tiffany. I try to keep an open mind about most things in life. I try to see where others are coming from, but sometimes, it doesn’t matter how hard I try to see the other’s point of view, I just feel it’s wrong.
    Take for instance the family posted in the blog. I feel that those parents that named their children Adolf and Aryan Nation should be ashamed and are just plain stupid. Yes it’s just a name, but is a terrible name, associated with hate, fear, and death. The parents knew exactly what they were doing when they decided to name their children that. They knew it would cause a stir and cause people to become aggravated and that is what they wanted. They wanted the reactions they are getting, or else they would not have named their children Adolf and Aryan Nation. I most feel bad for the children that are going to have to go through life like this. They are going to get ridiculed and harassed because of their name. People are going to shun them and they are going to become something other than a child. They are going to feel ostracized and are probably going to become hateful and angry because of the way society is going to treat them. They will become a product of their upbringing, as most children are.
    They may grow up in an area that is accepting of their names and their ways. They may live with other families that share the hatred that their parents felt when they named them Adolf and Aryan Nation. But that is still just going to lead to more hate and more animosity.
    I personally would never associate with anyone with a name like Adolf or Aryan Nation. I would completely avoid them and shun them. Would I ridicule them or make fun of them for their names, I do not know. I usually do not get angry or make fun of people unless they do it to me. But the hateful names they possess might cause me to break that. I just would definitely never associate with them. I may not be Jewish, but I have felt hatred towards me because of my outward appearance and because of my ancestry. I know what it is like to feel ashamed of who you are because others hate your race or your skin tone. I used to get KKK pamphlets tossed onto my driveway and hateful words thrown at me when I was a kid. I will never associate with those that have caused me harm.
    I feel really bad for what these kids are probably going to have to endure for the stupidity and ignorance of their parents.

    Marlon

  • haseeb shah says:

    What we have begun to associate as bad names?
    This is a pretty weird issue, considering that a parent would even dare name their child Adolf Hitler. Were they playing around when the child was born? Are they Neo-Nazis? Or are they trying to make a point that names shouldn’t be connected to bad ideas and memories? That’s an answer that’s not told in the article, though I wish it was so that I could talk about the article in a more informed way.
    If they were just playing around, than that’s just stupid. The child is gonna have to face prejudice of name, and much mockery and social outcasting that was not his fault in the beginning. They have no reason to take something that is so key to someone’s identity and warp it to create a twisted identity.
    If they are Neo-Nazis then they are stupid ignorant white supremacists that are no better than the KKK people. They are twisting and warping their children’s minds to become terrible people, and most likely the nurture side will take over and they will be unable to lose their prejudices. These parents would damn their children for the rest of their lives, and they do not have the right to raise the child.
    If they are trying to make a point I congratulate them to show the hypocrisy and stupidity how we are associating children and people’s names with bad events. We shouldn’t even care what the name of the child is, so long as they are people who are a blessing to people. If they are nice and smart, what reason do we have to cast them aside due to their name. Sure names have a small part on their identities, but it is the same with skin color. We cannot judge people of a certain skin color, and not take into account their personalities. If we disregard the things that make them human, than what are we but mere shells ourselves. Every person is equal, and we are all unique in our own special ways.
    I believe that names shouldn’t be associated with bad things whatsoever. I have known some people who have changed their names of Osama to something else, over what some crazy lunatic did. Just because their names are Osama doesn’t mean they are bad people, just like Hitler. Though, seeing that the parents are using lots of Nazi name relevancies (like Aryan and etc.) it seems that the parents are ignorant. (More clues are that they didn’t use other “offensive names” or what not.) Thus I conclude, with the facts that I have, (though I wish I had more) that these people are completely and without most of a doubt clinically insane.

  • Anonymous says:

    I believe that a name is a name it does not define you as a person or symbolize anything about you. But one of the things I would like to point is that a name should have meaning to it whether there is a dumb reason why your parent(s) gave you your name. After hearing about the whole name issue i thought it was kinda petty of the bakery to not put the name on the cake. They acted as if Hitler himself came in the bakery and asked for his name on the cake. The father did nothing to that baker. Now i can see if he cursed at the workers or something but he just asked if he can get his childs name put on the cake. i cant see from the other persons point of view because if i were in the workers position i wouldve put his name on the cake. Who are they to deprive a young child of having a happy birthday. i see nothing wrong with that name. I personally wouldnt have named my child after that man but if they want to name their child after a crazed man that’s their decision and no one else should not have any say so in the childs name. Thats whats wrong with the world now always taking everything offensively and always thinking something is always wrong on the less obvious things. I mean come on the boy is nothing like Hitler obviously the family just liked the name. They should not be given grief because of one name. Maybe they wanted to be different because they know everyone else has the same name nowadays. Maybe they wanted to stay away from the most common names. I love my name just because I barely meet Brookes that are black. My mother gave me a white name and i absolutely love it. I love the fact that I can walk down the street and pass by a group of girls and know that their name isnt Brooke. I usually walk pass people and I am always bound to run into a Brittney spelled like 2,000 different ways which I think is ridiculous because I dont think that there is no way that moms love that name so much and really try and remix it. But a name does not define who you are let alone your image the person does all by their self. Names do not give titles and this occurence didnt have to happen with the man over a name. I really do find it childish. They should just go out of business for that one. Now what if someone named their child really inappropriate would they still refuse to write the name on the came??.. A name is after all just a name

  • Anonymous says:

    I have always believed that names out of the norm were the most interesting and particular thing a person could have. I myself have a name that is not very common and I really enjoy it. However when I was younger it was not always as fun; when others went to shops and found necklaces with their names, mine was never there because I did not have a mainstream name, or when I had to repeat my name five or six times I really was not enjoying the name that was given to me. But as I grew up I realized that a name will shape a person and will influence his or her interactions with other people. Often just by introducing myself I spark up conversation with new people, and therefore it becomes a great social tool. I have traveled a lot so it is also interesting to see how each culture seems to have a different reaction when I introduce myself. For example when I am in Italy people will directly relate my name to ‘joy’ since that it what it means in Italian and unfortunately along with that sometimes people joke and ask me if I am sad… but regardless they also enjoy it because it has a positive connotation. When I meet Germans they will inform me that in their country they have a magazine named after me, in France they will ask me if my parents were into music since it is also a term used in that field. Whereas when I came to America the first thing people said to me was: “Ah! I take you!”, which was a little disturbing at first until they explained to me that over here I am an allergy medicine apparently. So now for example one of my friend on my floor calls me ‘meds’.
    The reason why I explained all this is because I really believe unconventional names are great but in the case of this article I do not agree with the parent’s decision. As much as it is just a word, in our society those two words, put together have way too much baggage to be seen so simply. The fact that this child will have to grow up, constantly introducing himself as ‘Adolph Hitler” and put people in uncomfortable situations (because really nobody will forget what happened, especially not Jewish people) is cruel. Whatever the explanation, nowadays most of the people you will meet will not take or have the time to get the whole story and the only thing that will result will be a child that will constantly be picked on and discriminated against. I guess they should have written his name on the cake because that is what the client wants and so far he is not hurting anyone by asking for that. But ultimately that is not the problem, choosing such a ‘heavy’ name for a child is.

  • Theresa says:

    According to http://dictionary.reference.com, Name means
    a word or a combination of words by which a person, place, or thing, a body or class, or any object of thought is designated, called, or known. I guess the average American isn’t too shocked when they hear a child named something a little bit off the wall. It happens in Hollywood all the time. Celebrities are always naming there kids something strange. Some may say times are just changing but what happens when there is a child named Adolph Hitler? This innocent child doesn’t know the weight and heartache that this name bears to people all over the world. The problem doesn’t lie with it kid, you have to think about the parents. There is probably something wrong with them and the way they have been brought up. If they were to name their son Adolph, that would be okay since that is a common name, but to add Hitler to it really makes the name sour in the eyes on the rest of the nation/word. In my opinion the United States isn’t a country who thrives on race so much that there are children named after horrific people. If I was the baker in that Shop rite im not sure what I would have done if this family had approached me to write their Childs name on the cake. At first, I’d probably ask if they were serious, then I would have to ask my manager for advice. After all it is the child’s name, and it’s his birthday but it kind of makes you wonder what they did for the kid’s birthday they year before. It is the child’s name and it isn’t like it was going to be on a billboard, it was just a cake, and he does have a right to celebrate his birthday. A word and a name can have an impact, doesn’t matter how big or small you write it. It’s like the word gay or bitch, for example, both words have meanings that can be offensive or are actual definitions of the words. So, im not sure what to do with the birthday cake problem. I think that the parents need to be investigated and figure out where the real problem lies.
    In the NYT’s article it said that “Quite frankly, these names amount to a form of child abuse.” I agree with that statement. Naming your kid something strange, weird, or even just out of line sets them up for abuse in their later years from their peers. When I hear that a celebrity names their kid something off the wall, the first thing that I say is that kid is going to get made fun of, he/ she is just lucky that whoever their parents is! Even down to a local level, I know someone who named their son Jack Daniels! You tell me what the first thing to come to mind is…alcohol!!!! Let’s be real here, as a parent it is your responsibility to name your child something respectable no matter what issues YOU might have!

  • Steph G says:

    Language facinates me. I believe that a person can only reach a complete understanding of a different culture if they understand all of the complex intricately wound connotations of the native language. When a language is lost, a huge part of a culture is lost. I hate that English is spreading all around the world and suffocating culture.

    When I first started reading this article I immediately thought of this teaching from an acquaintance of mine. In the Ojibwe language (I’m not positive that I am explaining this correctly) most objects are “alive.” For example, a rock is alive, not an object. Unlike in English, it is personified. This different connotation on the word rock completely warps the way that I have ever thought of a rock. But who’s to say that it is incorrect? Knowing this about the Ojibwe language helps to learn the culture of this Indian tribe. I am telling this anecdote because I think it demonstrates the problem of translation. It is easy to directly translate something and loose the real connotation of the word.

    At first, I thought that the article was translating the Zimbabwean language to appeal to us. As I read on and learned that they were actually in English I was surprised. I am no expert whatsoever on the Zimbabwean native language, but I’m hoping that a correct translation of some of these names would have a different connotation and significance. So much gets lost in translation. I’m guessing that English is not the first language of a lot of these parents who are naming their children “Never Trust A Woman”. I know Spanish, but I know that I do not KNOW Spanish. I can have a conversation, but actually understanding all of the cultural connotations of each word is nearly impossible for me. I often will directly translate a word and it doesn’t actually convey the meaning that I want it to, because in the Spanish language it has a different connotation. I could easily see how the names chosen could be a trend that unfortunately is a mistake of translation.

    I wish that we were more creative with names here in the US. I think that almost every name I hear that is offbeat is so much more beautiful than the generic American names. I really dislike my name (Stephanie). I hate that it is so “normal,” that I very rarely am in a class without another Stephanie. A name does seem to be a huge part of someone’s identity. I mean, it’s the first thing you ever learn about a person, and I honestly do judge a person by their name. If they have an original name I will be more apt to learning more about them, trying to find out the story of the name. When I meet people with generic names I don’t even think about it, and I’m much more likely to forget it. To us, these names are extremely “weird” but in the context of the Zimbabweans culture I feel like there is a possibility that they are not strange at all. Names in our culture have a certain meaning, that doesn’t mean that they are used the same way in Zimbabwe. At least they have names with character!

  • Anonymous says:

    RRP Blog Response #2
    Of course, this makes me wonder what these people are thinking and why they chose the name they did. Maybe their reason is because they support Adolf Hitler and believed he was right in his doings. Maybe their other reason for the names of their children to bring awareness of the event that took place because of Adolf Hitler and to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Though it seems to be the first option, why can’t the rest of us use this as the latter option. Rather than being angry about the name choice this American citizen made, why not use it to our advantage. It’s not worth get worked up about in the first place. If we can use this to our advantage, let’s be sure to not play on the same playing field and be ignorant towards this person – set the example. It is a free country though, this person can choose whatever they please for their child, and we can say what we want about it. As a future teacher, I would use this person as an example to teach kids in a classroom about Adolf Hitler, the freedoms we have in this country, and respect for others (not picking on someone because of their name). This doesn’t even have to become into as outward teaching like in the classroom, but it can be introspective, allowing people to remember history and reflect on how to not repeat mistakes and what they can do for the future.
    When it comes to naming kids other names like “Jesus”, I see that a little bit differently. It is referencing someone who did good – a respected figure (at least in my mind – but I am biased), unlike naming a child after a man who caused so many people to die. Naming a child “Jesus” would still create controversy, especially those who may not believe in God or Jesus. They may see it as a Christian’s way of showing superiority. So in that sense, I would never use that name because I wouldn’t want people to think that Christians think that they are better than anyone else – because we truly aren’t. However, “Jesus” has a Hispanic background and is more common among that culture; it also is pronounced different than the biblical person.
    I could say the same about the people in Zimbabwe who name their children things. I do believe that the names they are choosing have less negative emotions attached to them compared to the name “Adolph Hitler”. People have the right to choose the names they want for their children – there’s no reason to stop them. Look at it this way, at least they are still having the babies instead of getting abortions. There are bigger issues to worry about. In the same token, I would advise to take a minute to think about the names chosen and if they are able to made fun of easily. Obviously, it’s inevitable to prevent jokes being made about a person’s name but there are certain names that are just asking for it. I don’t think it’s appropriate to name a child something for sheer laughter, especially if it’s not something that’s going to be an inside joke to the parents. This is a real child with real feelings that is supposed to be loved and not laughed at. During childhood, kids can be scared permanently from things like this. (For example, in my high school, there was a girl named “Brighton Early”….like bright ‘n early.)

  • Anonymous says:

    As far as the watermelon picture goes, I don’t think the joke is crossing the line. It’s just a joke. However, adding an insensitive line like “no kids there won’t be an Easter Egg hunt this year…” seems to make a mockery of tradition. It also seemingly says that just because our president is black, White House traditions won’t continue. White or black or yellow or whatever, we are all United States citizens who will most likely continue the traditions of the White House and our nation.
    I actually saw this joke a while ago. My boyfriend’s father showed it to me. Although I am fervently against racism, my boyfriend’s family is racist (something I cannot change). I was confused at the joke. I didn’t understand. When I voiced my confusion he explained to me that black people love watermelon – fried chicken and watermelon. I still didn’t understand. He tried to explain it to me, but I couldn’t understand. I said, “I love watermelon, doesn’t everybody? I don’t get what the problem is…” I wasn’t trying to be stupid; I just couldn’t grasp the meaning of the joke. Eventually, he sighed in exasperation and stopped trying to explain it to me. I of course half yelled that he was being unreasonable and irrational – he just laughed.
    I don’t put any stock in this ‘joke,’ I believe it’s an outdated notion and I just cannot find any humor in it.
    Concerning the “Barack the Magic Negro,” this is a creative joke that goes a little too far in my opinion. It says Obama is not a real black man, talks about problems that real black people have and have to go through…. I think it not only is making an incredible mockery of Barack (putting him on the level of Puff the magic dragon), but is also furthering and supporting the circulating perceptions of black people by an ignorant public. Because of course “real black men like Snoop… have talked the talk and walked the walk.” Obama achieved a great feat – to say he isn’t authentic is just a way of belittling his success.
    In response to the Mexican immigrant video – it’s kind of funny, if I could understand all the words. I am a Mexican American and I do not find it offensive. It’s a stereotyped video, made of stereotypes and it is a little funny because it is based on a bit of truth. What I would find offensive, of what would bother me, is people who actually believe that. People who think ALL Mexicans come here and cause problems. My grandfather speaks both English and Spanish fluently. After talking to him, you would never know that he speaks Spanish or that he is anything but a genuinely U.S. supporting American. To think that anyone would judge HIM or my family just because of our ethnicity would bother me. However, to make a stereotype about Mexicans and make a creative video that does NOT suggest anything violent or mean or contain any comments that suggest violence against people – that’s just a funny, creative video made to parody a perceived problem in America – illegal immigration. Of course, like any joke, it is very exaggerated, but when picking and choosing your life battles… is this really something to get upset about? I don’t think so.

  • Anonymous says:

    A name is a name, but I can see why Shop Rite did not want to put Adolph Hitler Campbell on the birthday cake, and that is because the name Adolph Hitler rings a very nasty bell. I do not blame Shop Rite for not putting the name on the cake because if a customer would have seen the cake, they may have taken offense to that, regardless of whether or not the cake was for the little boy’s birthday.
    Parents have a reason for naming their children what they want to. I am sometimes confused and baffled by the names parents come up with. I do not know if parents are trying to be creative or unique, but sometimes I feel like they need to put themselves in their children’s shoes. I had a teacher named Starr, yes it may sound cute and sweet when you are young, but think about the name when the child is in their 50s or 60s, it just does not make any sense to me.
    I remember there was a time span when celebrities were naming their children all these crazy names like Coco and Apple. I think parents need to think more about how the children will be affected by these names when they get older instead of trying to be creative.
    Can you imagine the teasing the poor little Adolph Hitler Campbell would receive when he and his fellow classmates are learning about WWII and how awful Adolph Hitler was? Kids are cruel and at any given moment if they are given the opportunity to do so, they will tease and pick on an unlucky kid in the playground.
    Parents will name their children after their grandparents or because it is based on tradition and this is understandable, but I have a hard time understanding why you would name your son Adolph Hitler Campbell regardless of family tradition. I would not want my son to be associated with the Adolph Hitler who killed millions of people because of their religion and I do not think anyone should want to associate their sons with that name.
    Yes, Adolph Hitler is just a name and the parents just wanted their son’s name to be on his birthday cake, but I my mind, Shop Rite had every right not to put the name on the cake. The blog did say the family went “public thinking they could get some sympathy, but the compassionate was not forthcoming.” In my mind, the lack of sympathy shown from the public shows that the public agreed with what I had said, “Even though Adolph Hitler is just a name, the name is associated with an awful man.” There comes a time where parents have to draw the line of being creative and being just plain stupid.

  • Anonymous says:

    I feel that today’s society is very much an associative one. We associate one thing with another in order to classify, understand or describe its meaning. We associate trees with nature, balloons with celebrations, books with knowledge and even something as hallmark as hearts with love. As long as I have been an inhabitant of American soil I have associated a cartoon heart with love. Being that our society relies so much on one object to represent another, it’s no wonder that the Campbell family was looked at with such distain over the birthday cake incident. Although a name or a word is simply a combination of letters that really means absolutely nothing until we ourselves supply it with a meaning, there are certain words or names that are better left unsaid. One of which would be the name ‘Adolph Hitler’. I understand that ‘Adolph’ was at one point a very common German name, but I can almost guarantee that after the Holocaust that word was probably never made to be a newborn’s name again. To name a child ‘Adolph’ today is to basically name it ‘The Genocide of Approximately Six Million European Jews During World War II’. No matter how hard someone tries to justify that a name is just a name, Adolph will probably never be socially acceptable again. I find it ironic that the Campbell family was looking for sympathy over their child’s birthday cake when in reality they were throwing their child’s name, and what it represents, in everyone’s face and slapping them with it. It’s one thing to name someone ‘Adolph’ if it is a name that has gone back in family history for generations (and even then it’s questionable) but to follow this child’s first name with ‘Hitler’ for a middle name is ultimately screaming “I am a Neo-Nazi and I have no respect for people who aren’t white Christians with blonde hair and blue eyes.” Now I know that our freedom of speech is protected by the 14th amendment, making the naming of their child ‘Adolph Hitler’ completely valid, but under that amendment I could also tell that family that I have no respect for them or their beliefs.
    On another note, if a name or a word is representative of something else, then why do we raise an eyebrow when a different culture names their child something that we feel is unordinary, even if it represents something important and meaningful for that culture? We oftentimes think it’s strange or unusual to name a child ‘Honor’ or ‘Strength’ when in fact those names represent virtues that are respected by most all people. I think that once again, like most things in our society, the acceptance of names and words are socially constructed.

  • Ian Overbaugh says:

    Choosing a name is one of the most important events during one’s life. They will be associated with that one single name ‘til death do them part. In today’s society, parents are the ones that name their children and children are stuck with their parent’s decision for the rest of their life, regardless of whether they like the name or not. Most of the time, parents will look towards the future and pick a name that will not be embarrassing or insulting for their child to have. When the Zimbabwean videographer, Godknows Nare, tells someone his name, they think that he is joking and possibly do not take him as serious as someone with a non-Anglicized name. Ultimately, a parent has the right to name their child whatever they want, but many acknowledge how others may think.
    Many other cultures, such as Zimbabwe, find that it is acceptable for a parent to name their child based on personal experiences. It is common to find names such as Lovewell, Hatred, or Godknows. However, living in a very judgmental society makes it hard for an American to get away with the same practice. If a family has a strong connection with a group or group of people, such as Mr. Campbell’s association with Adolph Hitler, and they attempt to name their child based off this connection, they are frowned upon. When ShopRite was asked to make a birthday cake bearing the name of Adolph Hitler Campbell, they immediately refused. If I were faced with the same decision, I believe I would act in a similar manner. Adolph Hitler was the mind behind the Holocaust and brought death to many innocent Jewish people. How could a person, regardless of whether they know anything about Hitler’s ways or not, name their child after such an awful person?
    In a sense, naming a child in a way similar to Adolph Hitler Campbell’s could be considered child abuse. It would be mortifying if I had to tell people my name was Adolph Hitler. I would be extremely embarrassed to show my face in public and would probably change my name whenever I got to the legal age. Why should a child be faced with such horror based on their parent’s self-interests? A child should be able to experience things for themselves and develop their own interests. However, having such a name hinders their ability to do so.
    In the future, I think people should place more thought into a name. How would they feel if they had to grow up being called a name as evil as Adolph Hitler? Although the majority of the population of the United States is not as crazy as the Campbells, there will always be those who have loose screws in their heads.

  • Jessica says:

    I would never name my child Adolph Hitler, or even Adolph for that matter. People do not even name their child Adolph anymore. And to go to the extreme of adding Hitler in there is just pure radical. This man was the leader of the Holocaust and brought on the genocide of innocent people. It is my own preference to never name my child after such an evil man. And probably the main preference of most people, unless you are some neo-Nazi or just want to get a reaction out of people. Wanting to get a reaction seems to be the reason why this family would give a child a name with such a negative connotation behind it.

    Many celebrities name their children such crazy names like Magnum, Apple, Audio Science, Moxie CrimeFighter, Jermajesty, etc. And those are just a few. But although these names do not have a negative connotation to them, the parents were still acting radical when naming their child. But if a couple wants to give such a name to their child it is their choice. However, why would you want a child to go through that?

    In the case of Adolph Hitler Campbell, people will talk and he may be turned away from pursuing certain careers. If I was Jewish and one of my co-workers was named Adolph Hitler, I would find it very offensive. It would be rather interesting for this child to get a job position as a leader. Quite the irony! Although I doubt he could get such a job. I feel what will likely happen is this child will change his name because of the difficult experiences he faces.
    But Sam is very right about what a name actually is. It is just a vocalization that creates a sound. We hear this sound and it allows us to associate it with a person or object. And it is very interesting that because the name comes with a negative connotation, it is unaccepted by many. I really do not know why my parents chose the name Jessica – Probably because it sounded nice. It is not like they went through a book of names to find what mine means – Most of the time this is the case with parents.

    Maybe Adolph Hitler Campbell’s parent’s liked the how it sounded. (Probably not the case) Maybe they did it to be funny who knows. But again, why put a child through that. The child is very young and already experiencing difficult times. I do not believe that the baker had the right to reject the customer’s request. It’s a form of expression, and just because the baker did not agree with it doesn’t mean this innocent child should be treated like such an outcast. It is not the child’s fault. And he should not be punished for it.

  • Erica Brecher says:

    I think names are fascinating. So fascinating that I have grown to resent names like Michael and Sarah, which are annoyingly common (no offense to who they are as people though; my roommate’s name is Sarah). Come on, be more creative! I read the article on the names of some citizens of Zimbabwe, and I think they are so interesting.

    Although if truth be told, I am the sarcastic wise-ass who would probably poke fun at a name like Enough and maybe come up with some clever punch lines. But really, I think there is truth in saying there is a loss of personal identity either through the commonality of Western names or ones or ones that are made in lieu of a good family joke. As a result, I can see why maybe that turns into a child getting his feelings hurt or feeling a lack of self worth growing up. Man, if my name was Never Trust A Woman, I would forever live in constant thought that I was the result of incest or infidelity.

    I like my name. Erica. It’s not original, and certainly many people have the same one, but at least it’s far from the most common and it’s not embarrassing. It’s difficult to have much to say on that matter because I really can’t complain.

    The unwritten rule that sometimes rids the world of names that were once feared or hated (like Adolf), however, is a little ridiculous. I say that never having met another Adolf, so I don’t know if I’d flinch at being introduced to the person, but I can’t imagine thinking badly of him just because of his name. Unless, of course, he was a Nazi. But like the case of the little boy in Sam’s blog, that is not likely the case.

    I’m going to be extremely cool and quote Harry Potter here: “Fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself.” I think this is true. I agree that it’s important not to forget about the past, but completely abolishing what was once a nice name is extreme and unnecessary. For the same reason I like creative and unique names, we should consider the idea of loss of identity before abolishing names.

    The idea that only older people in Germany are named Adolf anymore is almost sad. It reminds me of a dying species that will soon become extinct. Same with soldiers from WWI. Death can’t be prevented, but losing the tradition that is often behind names can.

    Names are important. They represent a human being. I do not think they should be taken jokingly or in fear. Therefore they should be chosen carefully, independently, and out of love.

  • Anonymous says:

    I want to know what town these people live in, because I am from northeast Pennsylvania, and I have never seen or heard this. It angers me so much that people would name their children after someone who was so awful. I feel bad for the children when they grow up. Kids are horrible and can be so mean. I can only imagine this little boy in kindergarten or even elementary school trying to make friends. Once these kids tell their parents their new friend is Adolph Hitler, I am pretty sure they will not be friends for long. Forget when they start learning about World War II in their history classes. This poor boy is going to be ridiculed for life. I can almost feel the pain this poor boy is going to feel when being ridiculed and make fun of because of a name he did not choose. I know all his parents were trying to do was make a statement, and believe me, they are. But, it is not a good one and it is only impacting people in a bad way. I hope when these children grow up, they have different views from their white-supremacist parents. I think it will prove to a lot of people that names are not everything. That would definitely be something to see.
    I know I write in my journals that I do not get “offended” easily, but some things just boil my blood and this is one of them. I do have a different name and I know what it is like to get picked on for it. I am universally known by people who can not remember my name as either “Sierra Mist” or “Sierra Nevada.” I guess it is easy to remember by association. When I was younger and kids would constantly call me Sierra Mist, I would be so angry because I hated my name. I do not make fun of anyone else’s name just because it is different so why would they make fun of me? It all goes back to how mean kids and people can be. The fact that these poor little kids could not choose their names and are now stuck with two of the worst names probably is so sad. They do not know any better and the fact that their parents want to teach them that people of color are bad people and hat Adolph Hitler was good is just sick.
    I am so curious as to how they are handling our new half black president. What are they going to do now? I understand people are going to have different views about things, but we are in the twenty-first century. They need to just get over it and realize that they live in America, the worlds’ melting pot.

  • Anonymous says:

    In today’s society, names are major deal. Many parents are very careful as to what they name their children because they do not want their child to grow up being made fun of by their name. All human beings make jokes about names. For instance, when I was in middle school, my friends would prank call someone and say, “Hi is Jack Mehoff there?” It’s something stupid, but very easy to make a comment. Sure, no parent wants their child to be made fun of, so why would you give your child a name of an appalling historic figure? They have to know everyone is going to make a remark about the name. We learned about Adolf Hitler and the Holocaust in elementary school. We learned all of the negative things about him, so when we hear the name we automatically think he is an awful person. It is so unfair to the child that he has that name and he had no say so in it. If I were working in the bakery, I would be very, hesitant to write “Happy Birthday Adolf Hitler.” I know this is out of the question, but I would feel like I was honoring Hitler by writing his name on a cake. So what were these parents thinking when they named their child “Adolf Hitler Campbell?” What is the child going to do when he starts learning about the Adolf Hitler who killed thousands of people? I’m sure he is going to feel very out of place, when all of the other students are staring at him and wondering why he has that peculiar name. Children’s parents are going to be very hesitant to let their child hang out with a boy whose family named him Adolf. Sure, we should not be judgmental, but everyone is. And we would all think there is something wrong with the parents. It would be one thing if they named their child Adolf in that particular time period when it was accepted, but it isn’t accepted at all today, except for the older generation who were named Adolf a long time ago.The name Adolf is rarely of today, let alone the Hitler part. Granted, many older men do have the name Adolf because it was a common name in that generation.
    I think it is very odd that when you compare the United States to other countries, and we are one of the few countries that does not name our children after our God. I think it is perfectly fine to name your child after a God if it is accepted in your culture. Surely, they have reasons for doing so and nobody should be judgmental of that if your own people accept it and agree.

  • Anonymous says:

    Amanda Fedorchak
    Soc 119

    Adolph Hitler

    Parents have the right to name their children whatever name they want; that doesn’t mean you should name them Adolph Hitler. There are many problems with naming your son after a massive murder, and the first one that comes to mind is the how he will be treated for rest of his life. Everyone is going to poke at this kid, every day, punishing him for something that is not his fault. He will go through teasing at school, abuse in high school, and being looked down at in college. The name offends many people, not just the Holocaust survivors. Personally, I think it is disrespectful to name your child Adolph not only to the many people who lost their lives during the Holocaust but also to their son’s future.
    We say names are just names, but I disagree. We identify many characteristics with certain names. For instance, a Brittany or Barbie many be a fun blonde, or Joe and John, many be cast as “normal” guy names. Names are words. Words carry a lot of weight. To take an infamous name and give it to your child is very inconsiderate to your child. Now, looking at it from a sociological point of view, it is society that gives words meanings different than their own. It is us that deem it wrong or right. We have taken certain words and made them taboo to say; you have to be a certain color, race or sex to say them. Words are just words to an extent.
    The unique thing about humans is that we can talk using spoken words. We can express how we feel through words and gestures. We are not limited to grunting and moving our arms about. So, when people state that words are just words, I am in a disagreement. Words make us human. They are powerful. They can impact lives. MLK Jr. gave a speech that will forever be remembered. JFK Jr. spoke words that impacted a nation. To say words are just words is missing the true essence of language; humans speak their soul through words.
    Naming your child Adolph Hitler is not a good idea. It takes away from his identity and gives him someone else’s. People will only think of one Adolph and one only. Hitler destroyed many lives, many families, and whole nations. If we, as a society, have been so affected by one man, how can we not single that name out? It is not about how absurd it may be for one name to carry so much weight, but the truth is, it does; Obama, to Frank Sinatra, to Nixon, back to Hussein. Every one of those names carries the image of the man behind it. Names are powerful. Names give people identities. When deciding on what to call your child, remember the power of a name.

  • Anonymous says:

    I have always been fascinated by the meanings found within names. Whether it’s the literal meaning behind the name, or the personal reason as to why the name was chosen; it gives insight into the individual’s family history. I know that it is very common for those of Christian faith to name after the living, while in the Jewish community it is traditional to name a child after someone who has passed away. After reading the article about Zimbabwe where it is common to name a child after the conditions it was born in, despite how silly it may sound to us, I find this topic that much more interesting.
    When it comes to the child mentioned in the blog, Adolph Hitler, I’m not quite sure how to react. In some respects I believe that parents have full discretion as to how to name their child. It is very clear that Adolph Hitler has had a great impact on their life in order for them to have named their child after a man that killed millions upon millions of people. Who are we to judge this family just because his name is outdated and has an evil connotation.
    However, I can’t help but ask myself if these people are fit to be parents? Are they providing a positive home environment for their child, no matter what his name is? On one hand I know it is none of my business, but on the other I do not think it is okay for a child to grow up in a home where such hateful ideals are supported on a regular basis.
    More importantly than the parents, what about this child? He is going to be the kid in school named Adolph Hitler Campbell! Every day a teacher will do role call and have a child named Adolph on the roster. I can’t help but picture this little boy sink down in his seat while the rest of the class snickers. I personally do not understand why a parent would want to subject their child to that embarrassment.
    Granted, there are similar cases out there where celebrities name their children Apple, Coco, Pilot Inspektor and Puma. There is no question that these children will face similar forms of bullying as they grow up because of the names their parents chose for them. But it is impossible to compare these situations. No one will question the integrity of a child name Maddox, or the upbringing of a child named Suri, but when a little boy named Adolph Hitler Campbel comes in, questions will automatically be asked. When people ask him why his parents named him Adolph he will have to explain that his sister’s middle name is Arian Nation and these are his parents values.

  • Cory Carson says:

    I feel a lot can be learned about a person’s family by the name they were given. Take actors for example; if they aren’t completely self-involved, why would they come up with names like Pilot Inspektor, Sage Moonblood, Rocket, Blue Angel, and Audio Science. Religious couples that wish the best for their children choose names like Hope and Destiny. My personal favorites are the people that don’t think about what their child’s name say about themselves. These people choose names that they think will be good for their child, but in the end really tell more about themselves. Names like Mercedes and Lexus prove that money matters more than their children, except in those rare cases when the child was conceived in the backseat of one and that makes a slightly different statement. Some names show parents absolute negligence to the world. Names like Noexit (pronounced NO exit) and Shithead (pronounced shi-THAY-ed), both real names of people I’ve met, show the complete cluelessness of some people.

    So, for me, I can learn a lot from a person just from their name. I tend to use this information in forming my initial judgments of that person. If a person has an intriguing name, I will normally ask them what the reason was for that name. Some will inform me of its meaning and its origin which I love to hear about and tend to find that person much more interesting than I normally would. However, if your parents have given you a strange name and you have accepted it without question; I will more than likely not want to associate with this person.

    As for names like Jesus, Mohammed, and Krishna, I find it very interesting that some cultures are so passionate about their religion they will go so far as to name their children after their favorite prophets in hopes that they might change the world. The United States is slightly different than most. They tend to revere the names of their highest prophets, and thus, feel it is not appropriate to name their children after them. They instead choose to use other Biblical names in hopes their child will follow in the footsteps of those men and women and worship their god the same as that person did.

    I really enjoy researching the meanings of names to see what language they originated in. I love seeing how different cultures originally developed names for their children. I found it very interesting that Zimbabweans choose a name for a child based on a memorable event that occurred about the same time as the child was born. Maybe some people in America should choose to follow suit in order to remember their children’s birthdays.

    Finally, for those of you that are interested, Cory means “hollow.” Those of you that know me can form your own opinions of whether or not this name suits me.

  • Anonymous says:

    My father is a white South African named Kim. Ironically, the Afrikaans word “kim” translates to “germ” in English; and Afrikaans is a language his parents speak and understand fluently. He was, in fact, named after a character in one of my grandmother’s favorite books. She liked the name, and to some degree it had a personal meaning; its own story.
    Many of us today have names with stories. We hear, “Oh, I was named after my great grandmother, who died before I was born”, or “My parents both loved this artist, and named me after him.” Our names have meanings, and personal value we associate with them. We could have just as easily been all named with numbers. Take social security for example. My name could simply be nine lonely digits. It would be a reliable method of keeping track of people, no worries about duplicates, or all that creative effort that goes into a name. Instead, we are given “valuable” names, with symbolism and meaning.
    So in that sense, the names presented in the article, should not seem that odd to us. The boy named after Adolf Hitler was named after one of the worlds most powerful men. We all know that Hitler greatly abused his power, and there are many that would associate the name with evil. But at the same time, it’s just a combination of letters; a series of sounds that allows an individual to identify themselves in a non-categorical way.
    Godknows also has a name with meaning. Of course it sounds strange to us, but it is a symbol of his triumph over death at a young age and we can relate to that meaning. We all understand how valuable a name is. We can choose to change it, or use a middle or nick name, but it is one thing that can’t be taken from us. My middle name is Walker, the last name of my great great grandfather, and my cousin’s middle name is Emerson, the last name of another great great grandparent. Just like Godknows, Nomatter, and Smile who are named after events or emotions, our names are often given to us so that they are carried on in the family-names that likely had similar roots to the “strange” African names.
    The argument that the names “amount to a form of child abuse” is absurd. People have the right to name their children anything, and those children in turn have the right to name their own children anything. Regardless of whether or not we find the naming process of other cultures odd or unusual, we are likely viewed by many as having meaningless or superficial names, so the feeling of ethnocentrism works both ways.

  • Anonymous says:

    When I first read in the newspaper that a couple did in fact name their child Adolf Hitler I was beyond appalled. There are certain things that society deems “unacceptable” and naming your child Adolph Hitler falls into that category. This is a society misnomer that is not just true in the United States, I would reckon that pretty much most places in the world would be enraged if someone named their child Adolph Hitler. This is unlike the names in Zimbabwea or naming your child Jesus in an English speaking culture.

    I understand that the parents have a right to name their children whatever they choose. They also have the right to be white supremacists, which it turned out they are. However, when their free actions start to inflict pain onto others it becomes a problem. If I was working in a grocery store or bakery and someone asked me to write “Happy Birthday Adolf Hitler”, I would be shocked, upset and most likely refuse to do it. There are a few things I see wrong with this situation. First, Adolph is the boy’s first name, not Adolf Hitler. How often do you see child’s birthday cakes with their first and middle name written on them? Not often. Second, if you read a full article on this story you would have read that the couple had attempted to get a birthday cake there before but were turned down. Third, why would you make it public that you are a white supremacist? This couple obviously was just looking for attention and controversy. This had nothing to do with their son’s birthday. I am willing to bet that if they went in and asked for a “Happy Birthday Adolph” cake they would have walked out of the store with one. By asking for the full name they knew they would stir up controversy. They have no idea the background of the person working behind that counter, the poor bakers family could have a Jewish background. Their family could have lost family members during WWII, whether in the war or in concentration camps or anything like that. You just never know and I believe that as a human you must be compassionate and aware of other people’s feelings. When I read that they had tried to get a cake there before, I was just pissed off. They are attention seekers and looking for controversy. They wanted their fifteen minutes of fame and for people to know them.

    They rationalized the whole thing with one statement basically saying that even though they are white supremacists and have swastikas hanging in their living room they are accepting of others. They even had a little black boy at their son’s birthday party.

    What they fail to realize is that the most harm they are causing is to their children. What will happen when they learn about WWII in history class? Adolph Hitler may come home with a black eye. That is where the most harm will come into play.

    Whatever the reasoning behind this couple’s decision to make this story public, the joke is on them. A follow up story reports that Child Protective Services removed their children form their home. They would not disclose the reason, but it certainly was not because of their names. So I would advise people to evaluate all aspects of your life before making your family’s life completely open to the public eye.

  • Anonymous says:

    I think people should be able to name their kids any name they want. I think if the parent feels naming their child after someone who killed people then it is on the parents if something goes wrong with their child. The association that comes with some names will never go away. Names are history and if your being named after someone who lived before you who did wrong or good your name will always be associated with them, the parents need to understand that when naming the child and I feel most parents do. I have no idea why a parent would want to name their child a name of someone with a negative association; businesses do not do business with people or firms that have negative associated with them. How hard will it be for this child to get a job or even into college when they grow up? Let’s say the child does get a job, and they do sales, who will ever want to buy something from a person with that name?
    The kids’ parents should have never picked the name that they did but this is America they have the freedom too. I think it’s wrong and not in good ethics to name the child after a negative association, and the parents are only bringing more problems on for them self’s in the long run. The child could not even get a simple thing as a birthday cake with the name on it without a problem, how do you think it is in school when he’s learning history when they are older. I think the parents need to look at what they did and think about how its changing their child’s life forever.

  • Anonymous says:

    What is in a name? Some people would say that everything is in a name. Some people that I know have certain ideas attached to names. This is what you might call “prejudice” or silly; however, it is something that we do in everyday life. Having a name like Isaac as opposed to Mike, just saying those names have certain images already attached to them. Mike probably has a white collared, laid back, ordinary worker type feel to his name. On the other hand, Isaac sounds like he would be better educated than Mike. This does not mean this is true; Mike could be several times smarter than Isaac.
    I do like to veer on the side of protecting the reasoning of “what is in a name”. This is true that a name, like a word, like a gesture, are all things that can be assigned, said, or done that are, in the absolute basic sense, just phonetics, or combinations of movements. That means that I can make any crazy movement I would like, or say anything crazy thing my brain can muster that do not mean anything to any other person and I could assign a meaning to it. Everyone has that right, unless you violate some laws or you are personally seeing to it that someone gets hurt –that’s called assault and battery depending on how far they go- or something of that nature. However, if you ignore the social and ethical ramifications of those words, you are just being stupid and damning your children to a life of certain types of prejudice. The logic is: who would want to do that to a child, and only bad parents would want to do this to an innocent child.
    I am not saying that this guy who named his children JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Cambell and Adolph Hitler Cambell is wrong, though. I think he should be welcome to name his kids whatever he wants to, and I do not think that some baker should deny him the service to have his kids name on a cake, unless they find it personally offensive. Both parties of the service should just be respectful. Is there some type of blacklist going around of people’s names that we can put on cakes; is that what the “retraining” going to be about? That should be the end of discussion. Sure, they are probably white supremacists, sure, white supremacists probably hate my guts, but what kind of open-minded example would we be if we did not accept these people? I am not trying to start wars between us and them. That family will undertake lots of criticism for their naming choice, and stupidity in my opinion, but I say, let them have it and they will understand what power is in a name.

  • Yena C says:

    I think that their parents can name their kid whatever they want. Like my name means beauty in water because my mom had a dream about picking something valuable out of the clear river when she was pregnant with me. Okay, someone might have had a tragic experience relating to the water or river it could’ve happened to someone doesn’t mean that I am representing the people who had a tragedy relating to river. It doesn’t mean that I am from the water nor I am the beauty in water. I know a guy whose last name is fudge. Okay. He isn’t a delicious desert either. Just a regular human being. When people name kids, it sort of reflects to what they want their kid to be or what they thought of their kid when they had one. Of course some parents name their kid a ridicules name. And when the parents name the kid’s name Jesus. It doesn’t mean that the kid is the Jesus or the kid will become Jesus. I’m sure parent didn’t mean it like they will serve their kid just like the Jesus. Okay. In the past, according to some people’s belief or bible, Jesus is the son of god and he made lots of change and he was a great influence to lots of people. Still many people believe in him. For lots of people he is the guardian for them too. So, I guess that the parents wanted their kid to be like him. I don’t think that anyone should get offended by that. Lots of people named their kid Love and Faith. So.. Let me guess. The girl with the name Love is not the person, it represent the love I guess. Faith. She doesn’t represent the meaning of faith either. The name Adolph Hitler. Ohhh gees. Hitler did a lot of stuff on the past and Adolph is a common name for Germans. It is not like the name Hitler is a cursed name which will make people with the same name do the same thing as what he did on the past. It could be meaning a lot to name the kid as a symbol of their experience. I think that when people are afraid of the specific name give the person a power. Because it happened before. It’s done. But, still people couldn’t let go of their history so I guess Hitler wins. Maybe in hundreds years later, that name’s power won’t exist anymore. It’s little sad to see that people still remembers and think that somehow just cause of having that name, it could be a danger or the sign of the Hitler coming back. Hope that people get over it.

  • Anonymous says:

    In my opinion, people put too much stock in a name. As the old saying goes, “a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet.” While every name has a meaning, in one culture that meaning may differ in another language. For example, my name in French means “maiden,” while in Japanese means, “sex toy”. So for some people it would be an offensive word, but for other people, it would mean just that mean just the opposite. It is interesting that across cultures different names mean such contradicting things.
    In general people do not accept other culture’s practices like they accept their own, ethnocentricity by definition. So it would make sense that when it is common in other cultures to name their kids after flowers or trees or old traditional names, we find it strange. Even though the new thing for Americans is to name their kids after surnames and other cultures would find that odd, we don’t.
    I remember back during the primaries when Obama’s name became such a big deal. People all across the country were changing ‘Barack Hussein Obama’ to different variations playing off Osama Bin Laden and Sadam Hussein. So just because his name is similar to those men, it would have to automatically mean something about Obama that is not true. Names like Hussein and Barack are extremely unique in American, but in the middle east would be comparable to a name like “John” or “Katie”. But instead of looking at the bigger picture of the situation, his name makes people concerned.
    It will be interesting to see how the meaning of the name Barack or Hussein changes in the future after Obama’s presidency. Depending on how his four year go in office, Americans will have an altered view of the names. People could start naming their sons Barack instead of Michael or Alex.
    Although, having said that a name is just a name, I think certain names are now tabooed. I would feel uncomfortable if someone in my class or someone I was friends with had the name “Adolph” or “Jesus” because of the meaning I personally associate with them. Just like songs or movies or many other things, it is natural to relate something you have a memory of. Since the Holocaust was such a terrible event that I learned about in school, the memories I associate with that would affect my opinion of a person named “Adolph”. As a Christian, Jesus is the name of the Son of God, so I would not consider it a name choice for a kid. Although, I don’t think it’s weird for someone of Hispanic decent to be named “Jesus,” so the double standard does exist.

  • Neal Cassady says:

    I feel like one of the most challenging tasks to do once I have children is to name them. Sometimes I feel naming a child should be done once the parents get to know the child and thus choose a name fitting to their looks and personality. I hate it when people say, “Oh yeah, he looks like a Ted, I couldn’t imagine him as anything else”. What does that even mean? I hate the traditional thinking that a child should be named something just because it was their great-grandfathers name. If a name is chosen without regard to the child then the name is essentially meaningless.
    Meaning-ness in a name however, can go either way. On one hand, you can have the beautiful, poetic Native American names (that were given as examples in the article that follows) or you could have the ridiculous, offensive names like that poor children named Adolf Hitler and Aryan Nation. Were those parents trying to make their children’s lives miserable or were they just plain stupid? Besides appearance, a person’s name is the first thing a person can judge them about. Those children with those horrible names might very well be outcasts and ostracized because they names conjure such painful and horrific images. It’s not even like they were named War or Bomb, these poor children were named after actual villains and people can trace the deaths of their ancestors straight to those murders. I hope those kids are able to legally change their names as soon as they understand what the names mean.
    I really enjoyed the accompanying article on Zimbabwean names. I think it’s wonderful when a name reflects a feeling that is important to the whole family. I thought many of the passages were hilarious: “Consider Enough, the Harare cafe waiter. Asked how he got his name, he said simply: “My mother had 13 children. And I was the last one.” Then there is the fellow from Dopotha, a village west of Bulawayo, who was born while his father was in Congo, fighting in that nation’s civil wars. When the father returned, the father concluded that the newborn almost certainly was not his, and he decided to make that clear. The son’s name? Never Trust a Woman”(NyTimes).
    I wish my name meant something that amusing or significant. I was told I was named after my mother’s favorite book series, Laura Ingalls Wilder. Much to my mother’s dismay, I didn’t fall in love with the books the way she did. I always felt I had a kind of empty name, one with no depth. I thankful though that my parents were not complete nut jobs and didn’t name me after some tyrant who killed millions of innocent people.

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