Thursday, December 18, 2008

All the fuss began when cute little Adolf Hitler was denied birthday cake...

I know what you're thinking, but it wasn't *that* Adolf Hitler. I don't know if his problem was lack of cake.

I'm talking about little Adolf Hitler Campbell of New Jersey. He's just turned three, and his parents wanted a cake with a frosting message just for him. But the evil local supermarket, ShopRite, called it "inappropriate" and refused to decorate a cake for little Adolph. The store did offer to make a cake with enough room for Mr. and Mrs. Campbell to decorate it themselves, but the Campbells refused, taking their business to a Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart obliged them with the Hitler-cake.

This kind of story is why context in news is vitally important. Up till this point, this couple has just named their child after one of the most reviled men in history, which some parents would actually do as a "joke", I'm sure. Mr. Campbell himself says, "people should look forward, not back, and accept change." Indeed, that's the sort of philosphy I have, too. The world will change. Little Adolph Hitler Campbell can't grow up to be the leader of a fascist Germany: that ship has sailed. He has his whole life ahead of him. Maybe he grows up to be the next mother Theresa! Wouldn't that be interesting? "Are you referring to Adolph Hitler the dictator, or Adolph Hitler the peacemaker?"

So far, I'm with the Campbells. Though they seem to have a rather extreme sense of humor, they are getting people to talk about it. Can you even see a child named "Adolph" without thinking of Hitler? Is it wrong to have one name struck out of the books forever?

Granted, the Campbells have two other daughters, who also have ... interesting names. There's little JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell: she also was denied a birthday cake for [ahem] some reason. Then there's baby Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell, who may take the cake for the most "Is that a mistake?" thoughts in one name. First, the Campbells seem to have the "xxxx-lynne" name fetish. And what a "honsz"? Is that the sound a goose with a lisp makes?

And then there's "Hinler". It's apparently meant to reference Heinrich Himmler, the infamous mastermind behind the "Final Solution", which is pretty tacky for a name, though that sort of absolutist value description doesn't work well in a discussion already filled with people called Hitler and Aryan Nation. So, following the theme, I can see how they'd pick "Himmler" as a name. Except they didn't. They chose "Hinler". And, correct me if I'm wrong, but Himmler's name certainly isn't Hinler. But perhaps I'm thinking too much.

So, these parents have questionable naming ideas and a strange sense of either humor or name-equality. But then, context for the UK Telegraph article arrives in the form of other articles from other papers.

From The Australian: "He said he named his son after Adolf Hitler because he liked the name and because 'no one else in the world would have that name'."

From USA Today: the above picture of the happy parents and child.

From the NY Daily News: the father disbelieves in the Holocaust, decorates the home with swastikas, and insists they are not racist though they don't believe in "mingling" the races.

They's just good people, really.

As an aside, I originally thought this story was VASTLY more interesting that it really is, because I skimmed the article and looked at the photo. From a cursory glance, I thought the Campbells were a lesbian couple, since I couldn't immediately identify the male face. Lesbian nazis and cake would have made it much more of a "grab ya" story.

Instead, it's just garden variety racism and white supremacy. Ho hum.

P.S. On the subject of mistaken identity, I had difficulty telling Honszlynn from Adolph in these photos from the Lehigh Valley Express-Times.

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