Monday, March 3, 2008

I am Hussein

New groups have started on Facebook called devoted to the effort to disperse all the nonsense over Obama's middle name: Hussein.

The first is called "I Am Hussein". Its rationale:

We don't know about you but we are sick of people pronouncing Barack Obama's name like it was some sort of cuss word. It is a national embarassment that American political discourse stretches so far to the extremes of xenophobia and puerility that a candidate's name can become an object of propaganda. You don't have to be a Democrat to join this group. You just have to be sick of racist xenophobia.

It's time for some good old-fashioned soldarity. With that in mind, we are adopting the middle name Hussein for the rest of the presidential campaign, and we will urge others to do the same with their names. Between now and November 4, we will always try to include our new middle name, even when it might be difficult to do so.

In a broader sense, the haters have been coming for the Husseins among us for the past six and a half years. Many Americans can be proud of their activities in the fight for justice and the rule of law in this decade. If we recall the famous 'First they came' speech of Martin Niemöller, we can say that many among us did speak up and, if nothing else, at least put our money where our mouth was by giving to legal activist groups. What if they came for the Husseins, and everyone was named Hussein?

The name Hussein comes from the Arabic noun 'husn', which the Hans Wehr dictionary translates as 'beauty, handsomeness, prettiness, loveliness; excellence, superiority, perfection' and so on.

Do you feel beautiful? We surely do, and we invite you to feel the same way. For the next seven months we hope you'll join us in saying, 'I am Hussein.'

Another new Facebook group is Hussein: A New Spelling of My Name. Its charter reads:

This group encourages its members to adopt "Hussein" as their middle name to show solidarity with Barack Obama, as well as to reject and denounce the politics of fear. We are the "other" because in truth, there is no other. There is only us. And we are the ones we've been waiting for.

Yes, this is borrowed from the book by Audre Lorde.

If you only join to argue the since-oft debunked reports of "Obama is a radical Islamic terrorist puppet", save your fingers and check out You really need to learn to do some research and not believe every chain letter your crazy aunt sends you.

If you're a Facebook member and an Obama fan, please check these groups out!

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