We all know by now how the dirty republican-initiated email campaign against Barack Obama tried to use his middle name, Hussein, as part of their scare tactics. Many Muslims and even non-Muslims, felt he should have been more forceful not only denouncing using his Muslim middle name as part of a scare tactic, but also making it clear that he would have been as happy, as proud, as American even if he were a Muslim. Basically, declaring that nothing is wrong with being a Muslim.
He did not come out personally saying it that strongly and most Muslims are familiar with the realities of life in the public arena especially when you want to make it to the oval office. SO, they are not holding grudges against him.
But something good is still likely to come out of the horrible 'smear attempt' using his own middle name against the Democratic presidential nominee. Their dirty tactics may have backfired!
A lot of Obama's fans and supporters are younger, more diverse, more tolerant and inclusive than many of the traditional 'hard-core conservatives' whose claim to conservatism is not their fiscal and governmental ideals, but their exclusiveness, xenophobia and racism.
The New York Times online today had an article titled Obama Supporters Take His Name as Their Own.
Emily Nordling has never met a Muslim, at least not to her knowledge. But this spring, Ms. Nordling, a 19-year-old student from Fort Thomas, Ky., gave herself a new middle name on Facebook.com, mimicking her boyfriend and shocking her father.Out of support for Obama, and I think as they believe that inherently nothing is wrong with having a Muslim name, some younger people are adopting Hussein as a middle name. As a Muslim, I really admire what they are doing. They do not only talk the talk -- they also walk the walk.
“I am sick of Republicans pronouncing Barack Obama’s name like it was some sort of cuss word,” Mr. Strabone wrote in a manifesto titled “We Are All Hussein” that he posted on his own blog and on dailykos.com.
The result is a group of unlikely-sounding Husseins: Jewish and Catholic, Hispanic and Asian and Italian-American, from Jaime Hussein Alvarez of Washington, D.C., to Kelly Hussein Crowley of Norman, Okla., to Sarah Beth Hussein Frumkin of Chicago.It is one thing to say that it is a shame to pick on someone because of their Muslim name, but it is a whole different ball game when you put yourself literally on the same fire line that they face. I am certain many of those brave young souls are expecting getting hard time from their families, teachers, and even others they may not know.
Jeff Strabone of Brooklyn now signs credit card receipts with his newly assumed middle name, while Dan O’Maley of Washington, D.C., jiggered his e-mail account so his name would appear as “D. Hussein O’Maley.”This is not the first time non-Muslims have walked the extra mile in Muslim's shoes. Nearly two years ago a young Muslim student was harassed on her university campus for wearing the Islamic head cover (Hijab) and her scarf was pulled of her head by some racist Islamophobic idiots on campus. In support of that young lady, non-Muslim young women decided to have a 'Wear a Hijab to School' day. They put themselves on the line to see and feel for themselves what a Muslim woman may go through facing bigotry sometimes on daily basis.
Alex Enderle made the switch online along with several other Obama volunteers from Columbus, Ohio, and now friends greet him that way in person, too.
Unfortunately that also reminds me of how we, Muslims, sometimes hide our affiliation with Islam as if it were a spot of shame. Many workers in public venues 'abbreviate' their Muslim names for the 'convenience' of their customers. And we all know Muslims with 'anglicized' nick names used in work places. I have seen Muslims that are regular at mosques, yet would not dare to have a car sticker that says 'Muslims Denounce Terrorism'.
A good friend of mine was chastised by attendees at his own mosque when he tried to take some pictures at an event we organized at a St. Louis mosque for an online report on the event. Mature adults Muslim who happened to be in the general direction of where the camera was pointing was afraid of having his face among the audience in a public event at a mosque he attends regularly.
Incidents like those, and the fear that some of us live in, motivated me to call for a community wide Muslim Visibility Campaign that was the beginning of my online effort a year ago. Like most of our Muslim community based campaigns, it did go far (see here for a report on the kick off event that ended being the one and only event.
Sorry for digressing. Any way, back to NYT article:
Some Obama supporters say they were moved to action because of what their own friends, neighbors and relatives were saying about their candidate. Mark Elrod, a political science professor at Harding University in Searcy, Ark., is organizing students and friends to declare their Husseinhood on Facebook on Aug. 4, Mr. Obama’s birthday.My great respect goes to those young and old non-Muslims who are willing to take a stand for what they believe in.
And one more time I will pray for our community to mature, and maybe one day we can do that too.
- Obama Supporters Take His Name as Their Own - The New York Times.
- 'Muslims denounce terrorism' - the campaign logo. (I still have many of those sticker if any one is interested!!
- Muslim Visibility Campaign - A little essay I wrote on the need and rationale of a community wide Muslim visibility effort.