November 3, 2008 at 8:30 pm | Posted in Barack Obama | Leave a comment

Cinque Henderson wonders whether Obama, if elected, will use his middle name when swearing the oath of office:

But proudly announcing his entire name will put the country on notice that the promise of his campaign–change, inclusion–might have real teeth. After sidelining part of his own identity from the campaign trail in a concession to middle America and a few wary Jews–shuffling out a set of Muslim women with headscarves during a campaign event, reciting the Muslim call to prayer by heart in early 2007 to The New York Times’ Nicolas Kristoff but then never again–Barack owes something to that part of who he is. And it’s possible that witnessing Barack pronounce his entire name, for the first time, in front of the world, can help shake it loose from the tense shade of meaning that unjustly surrounds it. That would be an act of magic.

Well, it’s not like there’s anyone left in America who doesn’t know his middle name, right? As I’ve written before, my greatest disappointment with the Obama campaign was his failure to directly challenge the poisonous assumption that you can’t be a Muslim and a good human being, and instead respond to each lie about his background with unfettered outrage. Proudly announcing his full name would go some way to reparing the damage, and finally give that much-abused group of Muslim Americans a reason to hold their heads high.


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