Long overdue (like most my posts these days) but I find the fact that people are still worrying about the ‘implications’ of Obama choosing to be sworn in using his full, three names – Barack Hussein Obama – very, very sad. I’ve sifted through heaps of internet junk, and managed to pick out three main threads of thought, either from articles or the comments following.
I personally think that the thread of bigotry doesn’t require further proof than the fact that the President-elect choosing to be sworn in under his own name is being discussed because of its relation to the other Hussein (Saddam that is), Muslims, Arabs, fundamental Islamists, or more of the like, but here it is:
Ten weeks from now, the President of the United States will be a person whose first name is a Swahili word derived from the Arabic (it means “blessing”), whose middle name is that not only of a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad but also of the original target of an ongoing American war, and whose last name rhymes nicely with “Osama.” That’s not a name, it’s a catastrophe, at least in American politics. Or ought to have been. (here)
Islamicists, confronted with a Hussein in the White House, will rage that the Great Satan has stolen and polluted a holy name. (But where were they when Saddam Hussein, an admirer more of Stalin than of Mohammed, was butchering millions?) (here)
Others seem to fear that the ‘infidel’ Obama’s usage of the ‘Islamic’ name Hussein is going to whip all them Islamicists? Fundamentalists? Terrorists? (whatever term it is we’re being called today) into a rage, complete with death threats, possible beheadings, and a couple of fatwas thrown in for kicks. (various comments)
#4) Personal Victory
Yet others (Muslims?) view it as a personal success. A stake, a glaring red flag of victory, a defiantly spray-painted “I WAZ HERE” on what was previously no-man’s-land for Muslims. Did I miss something? Last I heard he still wasn’t a Muslim so the fact that his middle name so happens to be Hussein doesn’t mean we, as Muslims, have gained ground. So don’t pat yourselves on the back just yet, because that would entail you having done something. And in my book, electing a man who happens to have a Muslim middle name doesn’t factor in as a personal achievement. Electing the first man of color in the White House? Yes. The first Muslim? For the last time, no.
Obama’s reason, in his own words:
“I think the tradition is that they use all three names, and I will follow the tradition,” Mr. Obama said of the swearing-in ceremony. “I’m not trying to make a statement one way or another. I’ll do what everybody else does.” (here)
It actually isn’t a strict tradition; Ronald “Wilson” Reagan and James “Earl” Carter swore in at two a piece
So maybe he’s being politically correct by choosing not to insult/enrage all Muslims before he even gets to office.
Or maybe the Prez-elect just likes his dad.
Or maybe, just maybe, it’s his name and he chooses to use it.
So what implications? Contrary to the pessimists who insist Obama is nothing more than a charismatic salesman, who blinded America with good looks, better speeches, and Change™ I believe (hopefully) that good will come of this.
And I truly do pray that having a Barack Hussein Obama in the White House shows a new trend towards tolerance and maybe, just maybe, a step away from the bigoted views of our collective forefathers?
But I refuse to count it as a Muslim victory.