President Barack Obama’s middle name resonates in oath of office for second term

Written by admin   // January 19, 2013   // 0 Comments

Big ideas need big words to express them, brother…: Ving Rhames, ‘Don King: Only in America’ (1997)

At noon on Sunday, Jan. 20, President Obama will officially be sworn-in for his second term during a private ceremony in Washington. The following day, he will take the oath of office publicly on the west front of the Capitol Building. And how fitting that the latter is on the national holiday honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. On Jan. 21, in front of a crowd predicted to number from 600,000-800,000 people and a national TV audience, he will swear the following on a Bible once owned by Dr. King:

“I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear, that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, so help me God.” And once again, some Americans — mostly disappointed Republicans — will be driven to distraction by his middle name. Wringing their hands, they’ll probably wonder how a man with Hussein in his name could become our president.

Of course, during the 2008 campaign, a brouhaha was created by the news media concerning the very legitimate Muslim-sounding name Barack Hussein Obama. It got so silly that Ann Coulter — noted conservative pundit, author and television commentator — for a time was calling him “B. Hussein Obama.”

And let’s not forget that every time we turned around, we’d se e and h ear Obama’s vanquished opponent for the Democratic nomination refer red to as Hillary Rodham Clinton. So what’s the big deal about the president’s middle name, Hussein?

The fact is, Obama is a Christian. His first and middle names are Semitic words:

Barack means “blessed ” and Hussein means “good” or “handsome.” Unfortunately, he bore the burden of the similarity of his last name to the first name of Osama bin Laden.

It’s clear that what caused some of the news media back then to go ballistic is that the best-known Hussein was the late Iraqi tyrant, Saddam Hussein.

But Saddam wasn’t the only luminary named Hussein. One was his enforcer son, Uday Hussein — also killed by American troops.

Over time, some others on the world stage bearing that name include King Hussein, of Jordan; Onn Hussein, third prime minister of Malaysia;

Taha Hussein, an Egyptian writer and Arabic literary scholar, and Fouad Hussein, a Jordanian journalist. There also was a deadly Iraqi missile ˆBig ideas need big words to

express them, brother…: Ving Rhames, ‘Don Kin g: Only in America’ (1997)

At noon on Sunday, Jan. 20, President Obama will officially be sworn-in for his second term during a private ceremony in Washington. The following day, he will take the oath of office publicly on the west front of the Capitol Building.

And how fitting that the latter is on the national holiday honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

On Jan. 21, in front of a crowd predicted to number from 600,000-800,000 people and a national TV audience, he will swear the following on a Bible once owned by Dr. King:

“I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear, that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, so help me God.”

And once again, some Americans — mostly disappointed Republicans — will be driven to distraction by his middle name. Wringing their hands, they’ll probably wonder how a man with Hussein in his name could become our president.

Of course, during the 2008 campaign, a brouhaha was created by the news media concerning the very legitimate Muslim-sounding name Barack Hussein Obama. It got so silly that Ann Coulter — noted conservative pundit, author and television commentator — for a time was calling him “B. Hussein Obama.”

And let’s not forget that every time we turned around, we’d see and hear Obama’s vanquished opponent for the Democratic nomination referred to as Hillary Rodham Clinton. So what’s the big deal about the president’s middle name, Hussein?

The fact is, Obama is a Christian. His first and middle names are Semitic words: Barack means “blessed ” and Hussein means “good” or “handsome.” Unfortunately, he bore the burden of the similarity of his last name to the first name of Osama bin Laden.

It’s clear that what caused some of the news media back then to go ballistic is that the best-known Hussein was the late Iraqi tyrant, Saddam Hussein.

But Saddam wasn’t the only luminary named Hussein.

One was his enforcer son, Uday Hussein — also killed by American troops.

Over time, some others on the world stage bearing that name include King Hussein, of Jordan; Onn Hussein, third prime minister of Malaysia; Taha Hussein, an Egyptian writer and Arabic literary scholar, and Fouad Hussein, a Jordanian journalist. There also was a deadly Iraqi missile named Al Hussein.

But even now, Obama — born in Hawaii of a Black father and a white mother — continues to get dissed for something over which he had no control. His Kenya-born father who named him, had no way of knowing that his son’s middle name would become infamous when he became famous and ran for president of the United States.

Why did much of the American news media persist with this “blame-the-middle- name game?”

Well, some journalists never let the facts get in the way of a good story. That said, let’s take a look at some more famous male and female three-way monikers found in politics, science, education, sports, entertainment — and even crime.

Leading the way is the aforementioned Martin Luther King Jr. Some of the best known others are ex-vice president Hubert Horatio Humphrey; Black scholars Mary Frances Berry, Henry Louis Gates and Michael Eric Dyson; athletes Orenthal James “O.J.” Simpson, Yory Boy Campos, Joe Don Looney, Rubin “Hurricane” Carter; old west outlaw John Wesley Hardin, and convicted-acquitted murderer Claus Von Bulow.

Others include U.S. Supreme Court Justices Oliver Wendell Holmes, Charles Evans Hughes, John Marshall Harlan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, John Paul Stevens and Sandra Day O’Connor; authors James Fennimore Cooper, Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Penn Warren, William Bradford Huie and Erich Maria Remarque; attorneys William Jennings Bryant and William Peter Zenger, and 1950s TV quiz show whiz Charles Van Doren. Composers such as Ludwig Von Beethhoven, Johan Sebastian Bach and Erich Wolfgang Korngold; musicians Nat “King” Cole; William “Count” Basie, Charlie “Bird” Parker; John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie, Ina Mae Hutton and John Scott Trotter, and actors Philip Seymour Hoffman, Wilfred Hyde White, David Ogden Stiers, Mary-Louise Parker, Luis Van Rooten, Mary Kay Place, John Van Dreelen, and Eric Von Stroheim.

Finally, there’s noted American military figures such as George Armstrong Custer, Nathan Bedford Forrest, William Tecumseh Sherman, Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, John “Black Jack” Pershing and Walter Bedell Smith. Perhaps reactionary cable-TV news types such as Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity of Fox News Channel, fear the thought and sight of a Black man with a Muslim-sounding name as commander-in-chief meeting with Black African and Middle Eastern leaders.

Would they feel the same about a white president with a foreign-sounding name? So what’s with this obsession over Obama‘s middle name?

Who really knows. Let’s just hope everyone is over it. Meanwhile, millions of whites who have put their anti-Black racism behind them will join us by sitting back to enjoy the pomp and ceremony of our nation’s 57th presidential inauguration — starring Barack Hussein Obama.

Richard G. Carter is a freelance Columnist


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