Hanging Together

From my friend Wayne Krantz comes a link to a story that will appear in tomorrow’s New York Times: apparently some of Barack Obama’s younger and more enthusiastic supporters, having noticed that his middle name — Hussein — has been a heavy cross to bear, have decided to make it their own middle name as well.

This comes as Mr. Obama continues to be vexed by rumors that he is a closeted Muslim. He appears, quite reasonably, to regard these allegations as slanderous calumny (which they almost certainly are), and has done all he can to distance himself from that troublesome religion — including going so far as to have a pair of bescarfed Muslimahs removed from the stage during a recent campaign appearance. For him actually to be a Muslim, of course, would be political suicide: it would be hard to imagine anything more viscerally repugnant to the average US voter, short of being a rational secularist with no religion at all. (That said, there is in fact one Muslim member of Congress: Representative Keith Ellison, a Farrakhan supporter who represents the anomalously tolerant district of Minneapolis — but the politically astute Mr. Obama has so far had the good sense to fend him off with a boathook whenever he approaches.)

One girl’s father was appalled, his heart blackened by fear that his daughter might actually be converting to Islam. But he needn’t have worried: it’s all in good fun, of course. Whee!!

Read the story here.


  1. JK says

    The girl’s father you mention isn’t me but I’ve been worried too. (All in fun of course) Some months ago I read where Senator Obama addressed an assembly at Butler County Community College in Eldorado Kansas.

    That got my attention. I’d been reading more political type “focus blogs” at the time and was looking for evidence of that “Muslim thing” you mention. Eldorado Kansas?

    Back in the mid-to late ’70’s (don’t like being too specific-daughter doesn’t like it) the first bit of “college” I attended was? That and the fact that my very own eldest daughter was actually born in the hospital in Eldorado. I was aghast.

    Posted June 29, 2008 at 8:12 am | Permalink
  2. JK says

    Uh oh, I left out something, hate it when that happens…

    Baracks’ Mama was from Eldorado. The possibility of Muslims being from there was what yanked my short and curlies.

    Posted June 29, 2008 at 8:15 am | Permalink
  3. the one eyed man says

    Well, good for them. If the rabble-rousers on right wing talk radio want to imply that Obama is a terrorist because his middle name is Hussein, then I think it’s great if these kids want to poke them in the eye. Sort of like Ich bein ein Berliner meets Facebook.

    Posted June 29, 2008 at 10:53 am | Permalink
  4. Malcolm says

    Yes, Pete (blinking back a tear) – the whole thing just makes you swell with pride at the level of American civic discourse, doesn’t it?

    Take that, you cynics.

    Posted June 29, 2008 at 12:54 pm | Permalink
  5. Chloe Hussein Pollack says

    Aw, lighten up, Dad!

    Posted June 29, 2008 at 1:07 pm | Permalink
  6. Nick Hussein Pollack says

    You’re so right! Things change! Deal with it!

    Posted June 29, 2008 at 1:07 pm | Permalink
  7. Malcolm says

    You’re a riot, Pete.

    Posted June 29, 2008 at 1:15 pm | Permalink
  8. JK says

    It is kinda funny really, let’s look at it from another angle, “what’s in a name?”

    Now take the proposition that the name, “Hussein” takes on the implication that a name in itself really does mean anything and then extend it out, just a bit.

    Ask any high school senior class, “who was America’s greatest President?” More often than one might expect, well it does depend, but anyway one often hears, “George Washington.” So then, if the name “Hussein” does indeed convey any real significance then shouldn’t the name “George” carry the same baggage, and thus weight?

    I’d guess it comes down to how the individual feels about names and cherry trees.

    Posted June 29, 2008 at 2:14 pm | Permalink
  9. the one eyed man says

    Even so, I don’t think you’ll see a President named Adolf or Fidel any time soon.

    Posted June 29, 2008 at 3:08 pm | Permalink
  10. JK says

    Neither those, nor Hillary. Agreed.

    But isn’t all this “kinda” funny? I know One-Eye, I may seem to agree more with the non-middle named Hussein Pollack, but his, what was it, a few weeks ago? That “Political Feelings Test” thingy gave me the insight that I wasn’t the right wing extremist sort I thought I was.

    That is, if it wasn’t a “Left-Wing Conspiracy.”

    Posted June 29, 2008 at 4:00 pm | Permalink
  11. Malcolm says

    Ah yes, JK, you are referring to this.

    Posted June 29, 2008 at 5:29 pm | Permalink
  12. From someone who’s lived all over the world, I think there’s another point to be added to this dischussein (sic).

    The fact that someone with the name ‘Barack Hussein Obama’ is in the running at all for the highest office in the land is pretty ridiculously amazing. I don’t believe this could happen in the vast majority of other countries around the world.

    I think it’s due to one of two reasons:
    1 – The ‘can-do’ spirit inherent in American culture. I mean, why the hell not?
    2 – Most people haven’t thought that much about it and there are so many wacky names in this country that it gets lost in the cultural soup.

    My optimism leads me to #1, my cynicism leads me to #2. (e.g. Bush was re-elected – jeez people!)

    Salim Ismail

    Posted July 2, 2008 at 4:03 am | Permalink
  13. Malcolm says

    Right you are, Salim — Mr. Obama’s candidacy would not have been viable not so long ago. Indeed, this Democratic nominating contest, in which a black man with an exotic name was pitted against a woman, was a groundbreaking event, as both campaigns, the news media, and the chattering classes never tired of reminding us.

    There is still some distance to go, however: for instance, I doubt, given the disfavor that a certain 1,386-year-old religion has earned for itself, that anyone with a conspicuously Muslim-sounding name would be hired in a prominent role in either of the campaigns.

    I think both of the reasons you suggest do apply in this case. There are also, though, a good many people for whom the notion of a brown-skinned man with a “wacky” name, particularly the name “Hussein”, as president is entirely unpalatable.

    Posted July 2, 2008 at 11:13 am | Permalink

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