Did this speaker assume he could
frighten the audience by calling attention to someone’s middle name as
a sort of code word for Muslim? Was it the speaker’s inference that an
American should be feared as a candidate because he has a Muslim name?
Did the speaker mean to suggest that an American should not be
considered for public office whose faith is Islam? (Even though Obama
has repeatedly stated that he is of Christian faith.) And did the
speaker mean to imply that all people with the name Hussein have
to be of the Muslim faith?
One would hope that almost every
American is enlightened enough to be insulted by such attempted
manipulation. There are millions of American citizens who are of the
Muslim faith. And needless to say, Hussein is an honorable name held by
thousands across the Middle East, Africa, Central and South Asia and
Pacific Rim countries.
If indeed such simplemindedness has an
appeal, we are in trouble and the bunch that wanted to scare evenness
and sense out of us, and turn us against our own values through the
Sept. 11 events, will have succeeded. Did Mr. Cunningham assume there
are Americans who are so uninformed that his words would influence
them? It seems to me we should be very concerned about even the
possibility that some would find such demagoguery of interest.