Family Values: Barack Obama Should Be Proud of His Name

There’™s a small controversy, and maybe manufactured of whole cloth, about whether Barack Obama will use his full name, Barack Hussein Obama, when taking the oath of office. I understand he has decided to do so, and I think that honors his family. Family values are important, even in the case of Barack Obama where his father abandoned him.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Mary Ann Akers of the Washington Post writes today about the Barack Obama inauguration. Barack Obama has evidently decided to use his complete name, ‘œBarack Hussein Obama,’ in his swearing in. Seems the scripts for the ceremony are using ‘œBarack H. Obama.’ I know this is a picky thing, and it’™s yet another example of manufactured controversy, at least if Akers’™ column gets some play, but I applaud Barack Obama for his choice.

When Barack Obama was born his mother and father likely had a long converstaion as to what they would name the boy. ‘œObama’ was a given, considering that they were married and all. ‘œBarack’ means ‘œblessed’ in arabic, and is wholly appropriate as a name. (I like that the Hebrew ‘œBarak’ means ‘œLightning,’ that it is very close to Obama’™s name and a common name for Israeli’™s.) The sticky part is ‘œHussein.’ Sure, the last President, the failed George W. Bush, demonized Saddam Hussein, fought a war on false pretenses, and in the process convinced many Americans, Busheviks for the most part, that ‘œHussein’ means ‘œdevil.’ But I’™m thinking Barack Obama’™s parents took some time to choose that name, and it is important for all of us to honor our parents, is it not?

‘œHussein,’ according to, was Barack Obama’™s grandfather’™s name. OK, I frankly would cringe to have ‘œHerman’ or ‘œClyde’ as my middle name, even to honor a grandfather. I might not shrink, though, from my great grandfather’™s name ‘œAssam,’ or my maternal grandfather’™s middle name, ‘œAdeeb.’ Regardless, Barack Obama should honor his parents, his grandparents, and all those relatives who helped make him what he is. ‘œHussein’ means ‘œgood’ or ‘œhandsome one,’ according to, and that’™s a nice thing, I think. But nicer is that Barack Obama has a sense of place, a sense of family, and that the sense of family values includes honoring his name, despite how the previous administration and most Republicans have demonized his middle name. I applaud him.

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008 by Richard Blair |

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