Who's Sane About Obama's Middle Name?
I got out of Ohio a couple of weeks ago, for good; I left the city, not too far from where unlicensed "Joe the Plumber" apparently makes more than $250,000 fixing pipes since he claimed that his dreams of owning a business would dwindle under Obama's tax plans. I got out of Toledo where in five years of academic science I was asked several questions that I could not answer, questions that had nothing to do with academic science itself.
I was asked what Aditi meant in Arabic. I was asked in all seriousness why I was so sold on going to hell. Even as I tried to comprehend the question I was then shrilly reprimanded in the middle of a busy mall for not accepting Lord Jesus Christ as my savior. "I was just here to buy jeans" I said stupidly, not as angry then as I am now when it comes to people claiming religious high-ground. I was also told on several occasions to go back to where I came from by angry drivers on the freeway. Thankfully I did not respond as certain migrants had all those years ago when Native Americans may have said something similar. Sadly, my only consolation through all this was that I was not alone, that the brown skin tones of some my American born colleagues too inspired similar backlashes. Their citizenship status did not save them from such harsh judgment either just like Senator Obama's American birth and heritage does not save him from being called a terrorist.
In his presidential race, Senator Obama and I may actually have something in common. He too might wonder why people of a country where he was given the blessed opportunities of education would house ignorance of this kind. The people of a country where he steadily climbed the ladder of success and even made it to the Senate now suddenly see him as a terrorist. If it weren't for his middle name or the color of his skin would the escalating polls in his favor be more uplifting than they are now when he watches Republican supporters scream racial epithets and comment on his terrorist status? On the outside he does not seem afflicted at all as he sits through a debate being referred to as "that one" by Senator McCain. He seems calm and even smiles congenially in the face of unfair jabs that would've made the best among us righteously indignant to say the least. I should probably borrow from his strength and learn from his dignified composure, the ability to deflect such shallow distractions. And I probably would, if I didn't know that Senator Obama needs to, for his own good, in order to win this election, hold his peace and count to ten before he reacts to any insult or racially fringed remarks from the opposition.
I cannot help, however, being angry on his behalf. I rant at my television screen with abandon when I hear an ignorant Republican supporter claim that Senator Obama is an Arab. McCain is slowly palin' in the face (pun intended), I notice, as he tries hard to prevent further damage. I feel sorry for him. As an American war hero, he shouldn't have to constantly defend his campaign from racist undertones. He looks weary as he chides his own supporters and draws boos.
I grind my teeth in frustration at the toxic insinuations not so well-hidden in sudden and repeated mentions of Senator Obama's middle name at Republicans rallies. "Hussein", they emphasize, the crowd boos enthusiastically. "Terrorist!" they scream in unison, chanting the one word that has unified some Americans, "Arab" coming in a close second. I watch in horror, footage on Youtube from Strongsville, Ohio where at a Republican rally, a woman claims that Obama has the "bloodlines" to be a terrorist.
Last week, in an interview, Governor Palin invoked the "Ayers" mention yet again. She alluded to the curious reason why a man like William Ayers would want to "associate" himself with Obama. She brings up an excellent point that leads to several questions. Why would the racist men and women in the Youtube video above, the tax-dodging, unlicensed plumber Joe associate with the McCain-Palin ticket? Then there's the McCain volunteer from Pittsburgh who carved a B on her face and made up a story about a black Obama supporter beating her up after he saw her McCain bumper sticker on her car. Is she a reflection of the kind of support the McCain-Palin ticket has in this race? Or is it possible that people just cannot be held responsible for the kind of people their supporters are? And I am not even going near the Keating 5 story here to establish the "guilty by association" angle.
One would think that between a self-proclaimed hockey mom and the father of an adopted Bangladeshi daughter, at least one would've thought of Obama's daughters and the effect a careless "terrorist" epithet would have on them. And what about the law abiding Muslim citizens of America who raise children, pay taxes and suffer economic woes just like everybody else? Do they deserve to have their name equated with the "terrorist" label?
The "Hussein" paranoia has led some very Christian people to forget how many times the word "Barack" appears in the bible. The military "terrorist fighting" Americans in their patriotic zeal, have also forgotten that an Arabic first name did not stop the likes of Omar Nelson Bradley from being one of the main U.S. Army field commanders during World War II all those years ago. Now, while it is very disturbing that people would suddenly grab at a middle name to establish Arab ancestry and "terrorist inclinations", what bothers me even more is that nobody, not the media, not the candidates, not even the usually outspoken members of the blogosphere have the gumption to at least try and dissociate the mere "Arab" epithet from "terrorist". This issue does in fact need urgent address if only to prevent hate crimes, violence and discrimination against people based on their names, appearance and ancestry in a nation that calls itself pluralistic. Unfortunately, the "Arab=terrorist" association may have been sitting in cold cement for too long. Not even Obama, if he tried, could truly denounce the subconscious link some Americans have forged. If he tried, he would hurt himself in this election by seeming like an Arab-supporting activist to the culturally-challenged section of the populace. All he can do is state his Christian status. I don't blame him; he has a lot to do anyways considering the tricky tap-dance his campaign performs around the issue of race simply to prevent him from being auto-cast as anti-white by virtue of being black.
My only sense of relief is that when McCain's campaign incites "terrorism" chants they only excite those where already on the offensive about a black man with "Hussein" as his middle name. These people were furious from the get go at how far Senator Obama had come in this race. For these people it was bad enough that he got a better education than them and that he was senator of a state. So thankfully, when his middle name is repeated and his "terrorist" contacts underscored, none of the independent voters are scared into voting Republican anymore. If polls are a true reflection of voting trends then they might actually be scared away from doing so.
Who's Sane About Obama's Middle Name?
- » Published on October 25, 2008
- » Type: Opinion
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