Sunday, June 29, 2008


They are Spartacus, apparently. The New York Times brings us the happy story of supporters who have taken the middle name "Hussein" in solidarity with their personal savior, Barack Obama. From the article:

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.

As best as I can understand this, the notion being proffered for why one would adopt the "Hussein" moniker is because there is a fear out there that since Obama's middle name is Hussein, it lends credence to the notion that he's either a Muslim or otherwise someone who falls outside the parameters of the American mainstream. And if young mopes like these folks are willing to change their name, at least symbolically, to match that of Sen. Obama, they defuse the controversy.

Harmless fun? Perhaps. A little creepy? Yeah, I kinda think so. I think the picture with the NYT article is especially amusing, as the five supporters hold their precious Warholesque Obama sign and sport the facial expressions and postures that one might ordinarily see on the cover of a Death Cab for Cutie album.

When I was that age, there were thousands of people walking around wearing "Relax" t-shirts in solidarity with this long-forgotten pop phenomenon. What was most amusing about the Frankie Goes to Hollywood thing is that a lot of people didn't understand what Frankie was really talking about (link not safe for work). People are always looking for some way to connect with the zeitgeist, to be part of something greater than themselves. Obama has capitalized on this quite nicely. So relax.


Uncle Ben said...

I suppose from their perspective they think that they are standing up for something really important. And in a way it is. If people are voting against a man because of his name, then that is ridiculous. Especially when there are so many other reasons not to vote for him.

Mark Heuring said...

Good point, Ben. But it's still groupthink. I think the term is "a great herd of independent minds."

I'm hoping they start wearing Esperanto lapel pins or something.

Mike said...

"I exploit you, still you love me, I tell you one and one makes three!" Living Colour was so right.

I want to believe people are essentially rational, but stuff like this makes me wonder. This is a symbolic gesture that is meaningless. But, since these clownshoes feel better about themselves, I guess that makes it worth it.

Gino said...

maybe i'll change my middle name to 'wilson'.

sure, its 28 yrs late, but i can still feel young and stupid when i want to.

Anonymous said...

I saw Bill Kristol's piece on this on the Corner and had to Kristol and the mopes that are doing this. He likened it to a Cult, which is probably a little over the top. I think you had a better take on it. Some kind of misplaced rebuke to xenophobes who wouldn't vote for a man because of his name, and a show of the participants 'unbigoted' solidarity. The right has their eaters of Freedom Fries, we've got Jewish kids giving themselves an Arabic middle name.

It all makes me think of what the Teacher on the Simpson's told Ralph one day, in school: "The other children ar correct to laugh at you Ralph."

Fashion. Turn to the left.
Fashion. Turn to the right.