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!
Christian, Western heroes have often been bequeathed Middle Eastern names. Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, the medieval Spanish hero, carried the name El Cid, from the Arabic al-Sayyid, “the lord.”
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).
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 (barak) 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.
Now let us take the name “Hussein.” It is from the Semitic word, hasan, meaning “good” or “handsome.” Husayn is the diminutive, affectionate form.
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.
As they say, read the whole damn thing.