Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Presidential Candidate Named Hussein? Get a Grip!

"Another War-on-Terror Blog" isn't political, but you may not believe it by the time I'm finished with this post.

Blog posts, and a monumentally stupid warm-up speech for one candidate, have brought up the issue of ethnicity, religion, and nation-of-origin. and what it is to be an American. And it all relates to the War on Terror:

On November's Ballot: The Anti-Christ?!

When elections shake the tree of liberty, quite a few loose nuts fall out. One of the candidates has an 'un-American name,' and has been compared to the Anti-Christ. ("Barack Hussein Obama is the 'King of the South' predicted in the Bible." I'm not making this up.)

Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. - a Reality Check

The 'Satanic' candidate is Barack Hussein Obama, Jr., and we know quite a bit about him.
  • Born 1961, in Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Protestant1
  • Harvard Law School graduate: with honors
  • Former editor of the Harvard Law Review
  • Lawyer
The fuss about Mr. Obama seems to center around his father, a now-deceased black Muslim-turned-atheist from Nairobi, Kenya, who graduated from Harvard. His mother apparently is okay. She's white, with an academic specialty in anthropology.

Mr. Obama is a Harvard Law School graduate himself, and the first black person to edit Harvard Law Review (what took them so long?). The Presidential candidate's following his father through Harvard isn't what's raising so much worry, though: it's his middle name, Hussein.

I may be naive, but I don't think that we should assume that someone is evil, just because he's a second-generation Harvard man, and a lawyer, to boot.

That's not what the fuss is about, of course. It's Mr. Obama's ancestry and name.

Is Hussein an Evil Name?

Saddam Hussein did no favors to the name "Hussein." He ran Iraq for about three decades, before a coalition removed him from power. Shortly after that, the new Iraqi government expressed their opinion of his administration of their country by removing Mr. Hussein from the roles of the living.

Saddam wasn't the best leader in the world. But it isn't reasonable to assume that everyone with "Hussein" in his or her name is a potential tyrant with a taste for solid gold bathroom fixtures.
  • Saddam Hussein's last name may not even be a surname, in the western sense of the word.
  • "Hussein" is a fairly common surname. In America. I did a little checking -
    Frequency* of selected family names in America, as of 1997: *Number of times the name showed up in a list of 88,700,000 American names, from the 1997 U.S. Census.
  • I understand that "Hussein" is even more common in and around the Middle East.
It's no more reasonable to think that a Hussein is a tyrant-in-the-making, than it is to assume that a Schmidt wears black boots and marches the goose step, or that Johnsens and Stensruds are likely to lead a band of raiders down the Mississippi.

In fact, one of the things I admire about Mr. Obama is the way he has honored his father. It takes a certain amount of guts and devotion, for a politician to retain a name that he knows will raise questions about his background. And attract unwarranted attacks.

Focus, People, Focus!

America has important issues to decide in this election. I'd like to see candidates and their supporters discuss those issues: not how 'American' their names are, or where their ancestors came from.

What does politics have to do with the War on Terror?

Quite a bit.
  • American leaders are chosen through a political process
  • Leaders make decisions, like
    • Should we use force to stop terrorists?
    • Is it nice to listen in, when terrorists are planning to kill people?
    • Should America cooperate with other nations, even if the French government doesn't approve?
  • Actions will be taken, based on what is decided
  • Consequences of those actions will decide the success of people who don't want their lives controlled by the likes of Al Qaeda and the Taliban
As to whether or not being a lawyer relates to a candidate's character, that's a matter for another blog.
1Ethnicity does not determine belief. I'm half-Norwegian, with a Norwegian middle name. That doesn't mean I'm Lutheran, or worship Thor.

Related posts, on tolerance, bigotry, racism, and hatred.


Jeff Wills said...

Excellent post. I agree with your thoughts. The real problem with Obama is not his name, it is his political record, which is slim and very liberal. McCain has an aweful lot of amunition against Obama in a general election. Americans are not, as a group, a very liberal lot. We are a moderate to conservative leaning nation. Once Obama's highly liberal record is outed by the Republicans across the nation, it's going to be a tough uphill battle for Obama. He talks about reaching out across the political divide, but he has absolutely NO record of doing that. Big problem. I personally like the guy, but he is entirely too liberal for my tastes.

Brian H. Gill said...


Thanks for that comment. Although I believe that Barack Obama is a remarkable orator, quite charismatic, and able to handle (apparently unscripted) interviews, I also believe that his voting record bears examination. And discussion.

I wish that any candidate's ancestry or name would not be a matter for narrow-minded (and/or crackpot) rants.

I also wish I had a million dollars, tax-free.

Somehow, I doubt I'll get either.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.