Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Juan Cole's Vital Read

Damn. The biggest challenge I face in blogging is writing quickly while still meeting my standards. I have a habit of agonizing over every word. It's maddening and it makes me fall behind on my reading. That's my shitty excuse for not visiting Professor Juan Cole's blog more often.

Juan makes a crucial point today taking to task those seek to belittle and smear Barack Obama and question his "Americaness" on the basis of his name. Dig these excerpts from Barack Hussein Obama, Omar Bradley, Benjamin Franklin and other Semitically Named American Heroes:

I want to say something about Barack Hussein Obama's name. It is a name to be proud of. It is an American name. It is a blessed name. It is a heroic name, as heroic and American in its own way as the name of General Omar Nelson Bradley or the name of Benjamin Franklin. And denigrating that name is a form of racial and religious bigotry of the most vile and debased sort. It is a prejudice against names deriving from Semitic languages!
Prof. Cole continues...
Barack and Hussein are Semitic words. Americans have been named with Semitic names since the founding of the Republic. Fourteen of our 42 presidents have had Semitic names (see below). And, American English contains many Arabic-derived words that we use every day and without which we would be much impoverished...
Barack is a Semitic word meaning "to bless" as a verb or "blessing" as a noun. It is found all through the Bible. It first occurs in Genesis 1:22: "And God blessed (ḇāreḵə ) them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth."

Here is a list of how many times barak appears in each book of the Bible.
Yep, that evil scary word Barak appears in the bible 285 times. More Cole:
Barack Obama's middle name is in honor of his grandfather, Hussein, a secular resident of Nairobi. Americans may think of Saddam Hussein when they hear the name, but that is like thinking of Stalin when you hear the name Joseph. There have been lots of Husseins in history, from the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, a hero who touched the historian Gibbon, to King Hussein of Jordan, one of America's most steadfast allies in the 20th century. The author of the beloved American novel, The Kite Runner, is Khaled Hosseini.

But in Obama's case, it is just a reference to his grandfather.
Prof. Cole notes that John McCain's adopted daughter is from Bangladesh:
Since Hussein is a very common name in Bangladesh, it is entirely possible that her birth father or grandfather was named Hussein. McCain certainly has Muslim relatives via adoption in his family. If Muslim relatives are a disqualification from high office in the United States, then McCain himself is in trouble. In fact, since Bridget is upset that George W. Bush doesn't like her "because she is black," and used her to stop the McCain campaign in South Carolina in 2000, you understand why McCain would be especially sensitive to race-baiting of Cunningham's sort. The question is how vigorously he will combat it; he hasn't been above Muslim-taunting in the campaign so far.
The Senator has already proved his willingness to subvert his principles as well as flat-out lie to bolster this his last, best shot at the Presidency. Facing a charismatic challenger McCain He'll protest just enough to give the perception that he is above this sort of thing and no more.