>Supporter of Obama taking his middle name to show solidarity

>I’ve never heard of this phenomenon until I came across this article from the NY Times. It basically tells the story of Sen. Obama supporters who have adopted his middle name as their own to show their support.

One supporter:

Emily Nordling has never met a Muslim, at least not to her knowledge. But this spring, Ms. Nordling, a 19-year-old student from Fort Thomas, Ky., gave herself a new middle name on Facebook.com mimicking her boyfriend and shocking her father. “Emily Hussein Nordling,” her entry now reads.

The result is a group of unlikely-sounding Husseins: Jewish and Catholic, Hispanic and Asian and Italian-American, from Jaime Hussein Alvarez of Washington, D.C., to Kelly Hussein Crowley of Norman, Okla., to Sarah Beth Hussein Frumkin of Chicago.

Jeff Strabone of Brooklyn now signs credit card receipts with his newly assumed middle name, while Dan O’Maley of Washington, D.C., jiggered his e-mail account so his name would appear as “D. Hussein O’Maley.” Alex Enderle made the switch online along with several other Obama volunteers from Columbus, Ohio, and now friends greet him that way in person, too.

These supporter say they are sick of Republicans and conservatives dwelling on Sen. Obama’s middle name.


The movement is hardly a mass one, and it has taken place mostly online, the digital equivalent of wearing a button with a clever, attention-getting message. A search revealed hundreds of participants across the country, along with a YouTube video and bumper stickers promoting the idea. Legally changing names is too much hassle, participants say, so they use “Hussein” on Facebook and in blog posts and comments on sites like nytimes.com, dailykos.com and mybarackobama.com, the campaign’s networking site.

New Husseins began to crop up online as far back as last fall. But more joined up in February after a conservative radio host, Bill Cunningham, used Mr. Obama’s middle name three times and disparaged him while introducing Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, at a campaign rally. (Mr. McCain repudiated Mr. Cunningham’s comments).

The practice has been proliferating ever since. In interviews, several Obama supporters said they dreamed up the idea on their own, with no input from the campaign and little knowledge that others shared their thought.

I think this is an interesting and fascinating idea. Over at Francis Holland’s blog, he’s done the same thing. I wonder how many other Obama supporters have done this. However, it does play into the criticism that the Obama craze has become similar to a cult (yes, I’ve heard this description of his followers).

On a more critical note, this adaptation of the Hussein name seem to make light of how a person’s name can lead to discrimination. I’m always skeptical when I see young, white kids co-opting a different culture or a different name. Normally, these same kids could care less about the struggles of the culture they are adopting. Normally, these same kids could care less about the history and traditions of the culture they so “admire.”

More often than not, these type of kids tend do to things of this nature just show their “independence” and for the shock value, not to draw attention to a bigger problem. And I’m certain that these same kids could care less about the countless number of Arabs and Muslims who face discrimination based on their national origin, name and skin color.

Or maybe I’m wrong this time. Maybe these young, white Obama supporters actually want to stamp out the subliminal messages anti-Obama folks are sending when they repeat his middle name. Maybe they do care to change the meaning of the Hussein name.

Have you done this? Would you ever consider it? Why or why not? What do you think?