I am Hussein

What?  Its just a star with a truthful word in the middle!  Just like Hussein is just Obama's middle name.

What? Its just a star with a truthful word in the middle! Just like Hussein is just Obama's middle name. Its all about context, isn't it?

If you don’t remember this scene from Office Space, you probably are pop-culture starved to the point that much on this blog confuses you.

Samir: No one in this country can ever pronounce my name right. It’s not that hard: Samir Na-gheen-an-a-jar. Nagheenanajar.
Michael Bolton: Yeah, well at least your name isn’t Michael Bolton.
Samir: You know there is nothing wrong with that name.
Michael Bolton: There was nothing wrong with it…until I was about 12 years old and that no-talent ass clown became famous and started winning Grammys.
Samir: Hmm…well why don’t you just go by Mike instead of Michael?
Michael Bolton: No way. Why should I change? He’s the one who sucks.

Barack Hussein Obama.

You know you’ve heard it. Is it any shock that the Sheriff of Robert E. Lee County, Mike Scott, made sure to stress the Hussein, while giving a speech to a crowd of Palin supporters (while in full uniform, in violation of the Hatch Act, no less). (Source)

Scott, like most bigots, used this transparent excuse:

“Why” did I use the Candidate’s full, legal name of record? Despite varying inferences, interpretations, opinions, and extrapolations; the answer is because I wanted to, much like I wanted to voice my support for the Barron Collier Marching Band. (source)

Robert E. Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott.  (It looks like a skinhead, it talks like a skinhead, hmmm....)

Sheriff Mike Scott. (It looks like a skinhead, it talks like a skinhead...)

Yes, just like your support for the Barron Collier Marching Band. Just like some people join the KKK just to express “pride in their heritage.”

I have a fair number of Middle Eastern friends. I remember, with great sadness, what one friend’s family went through in 1980 because they were Iranians. I, occasionally, get mistaken for being Middle Eastern myself. Not that there is anything wrong with that. It is, however, a bit inconvenient when I’m in airports. Random selection, my ass. To the average former slave owner, I’m sure that they guess that my name is Nagheenanajar. (Not that “Randazza” makes them any more comfortable).

But like I was saying, it isn’t as if there is something wrong with being Middle Eastern. Of course, you wouldn’t know that from the constant shrill whine coming from the leaks in the Republican raft.

I, like many, have adopted the middle name “Hussein” on my facebook profile. While I am supporting Obama, this temporary middle name is not to express my support for his candidacy. I did this to express my rejection of any notion that there is something “wrong” with that, or any other, Middle Eastern name. This is to support my friend, “Osama,” who will not use his real name anymore. This is to support all of my friends who could, very easily, find themselves swept up in the Palin-stoked undertow of bigotry toward millions of people who never did a damn thing except get up, go to work, and pay their taxes.

The New York Times discusses this micro-movement here:

“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.

So like the residents of Billings, Mont., who reacted to a series of anti-Semitic incidents in 1993 with a townwide display of menorahs in their front windows, these supporters are brandishing the name themselves. (link added)

Exactly.

There is a myth about how King Christian X of Denmark was told that all Jews in his country would have to wear the nazi Star of David “piece of flair.” According to the myth, Christian X then wore the Star of David himself, and the Danes all followed suit, thus frustrating nazi efforts to deport Danish Jews.

While the myth is an embellishment of history, the sentiment is what matters. For as long as I have friends named “Osama” and “Mohammed” and “Nazish” and “Ali” and “Farzanrad” I will push against the tide of bigotry that tries to tell us that these should be symbols of contempt. They are not names of “the other” or “that one”… these are American names, and until November 4, I will be Hussein too.

You got a problem with that?

-Marc John Hussein Randazza

10 Responses to I am Hussein

  1. Jason says:

    Would you rather Scott used one of Obama’s aliases (Barry Soetoro, Barry Obama, Barack Dunham, Barry Dunham)? Why does he have so many? Or, wait… Why does he have any at all?

  2. Yes, I would have. If he wanted to imply that Obama had used aliases, and this somehow implies that he’s untrustworthy, I would consider it to be a foolish and desperate maneuver — but it wouldn’t have the race-baiting current running through it.

  3. Janelle says:

    Another awesome editorial!

  4. Janelle says:

    And, I forgot to add that if you got a problem with that you can get the eff out!

  5. Heather says:

    Well written, Marc. By the way, I read your “Ya’ll Come Back Now” piece just recently- very moving. I think that there is sometimes a subtle difference between coincidence and intent, but it’s important not to be afraid to notice it- carefully. I think you are careful and therefore able to be rightly pissed when appropriate.

  6. Heather says:

    Oh, and he IS the one who sucks.

  7. Janet Blank says:

    In early 2002 I joined an online dating site (no worries, this is well before my husband came around) and needed a screenname. I’ve always had friends who call me “JB” and I wanted something that included my nickname with my location (Washington, DC), so I picked “JBinDC” thinking that covered my bases. I then got endless numbers of official complaints and emails for using the “middle name of a terrorist” in my screenname – the “Bin” part. No one could see this any other way despite my explanations.

    Perception is so much more powerful than reality, and we’re seeing that play out in the worst way possible.

  8. Hussein says:

    I am Osama Hussein “the plumber” and I agree with this message!

  9. I agree with you on this one. I have an almost ex-brother-in-law from Iraq–best guy in the world. Love him more than my brother. The shit he and my sister got after 9/11 (while in DC) and then after the Iraq war started (in Albuquerque) really ticked me off. Now he’s in Iraq, with the military. The US military, as a translator.

  10. Thomas Hussein Silcott says:

    Nicely written Marc.
    In regards to Obama changing his name I understand. When you have a wall of hatred coming at you like a ton of bricks you do what you have to do to protect yourself. People have been doing it for years. Many Americans who have come through Ellis Island changed there names for a better life.
    Thanks Marc. I’m inspired not to fear anything that I don’t understand.

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