Barack Obama supporters looking for ways to neuter the negative impact of his middle name, Hussein, have taken to using it themselves:
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….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.
The idea of assuming another person's identity as a sign of support is as old as Kirk Douglas in a loincloth:
Some said they were inspired by movies, including "Spartacus," the 1960 epic about a Roman slave whose peers protect him by calling out "I am Spartacus!" to Roman soldiers, and "In and Out," a 1997 comedy about a gay high school teacher whose students protest his firing by proclaiming that they are all gay as well.
Supporters are trying to reclaim the name and drown out subversive accusations that Obama is a practicing Muslim, but one Obama supporter's anecdote reveals that the exercise is better at shocking mommy and daddy than catalyzing a widespread change in social perception:
Ms. Nordling changed her name after volunteering for Mr. Obama before the Kentucky primary. "People would not listen to what you were saying on the phone or on their doorstep because they thought he was Muslim," she said….But when her father saw her new online moniker, he was incredulous.
"He actually thought I was going to convert to Islam," Ms. Nordling said.
Wait—so Hussein does have Islamic significance?