Monday, October 13, 2008

Obama Is Not An Arab (Duh)

Apparently, one rumor flying about the internet is that Barack Obama is really an Arab. A lady at a McCain rally last week stated this into the mike, which then McCain didn't dispute but simply said Obama was a "decent" person.

So what exactly is an Arab, and is Obama one of them? (Okay, I'll play along with this one.)

An 'Arab' has been defined as "one who is a national of an Arab state, has command of the Arabic language, and possesses a fundamental knowledge of Arab tradition, that is, of the manners, customs, and political and social systems of the culture."

Interestingly, Arabs can be either Muslim or Christian. Arab Muslims are generally Sunni, Shia and Druze. The self-identified Arab Christians generally follow Eastern Churches such as the Greek Orthodox and Greek Catholic churches and the Maronite church.

Now, it seems pretty clear that Obama is not an Arab, though there's clearly nothing wrong with being an Arab. (Ahem...they are not all terrorists or hate America.) He doesn't speak Arabic, and he has never lived in an Arab state. (Indonesia, where Barack lived for four years in elementary school, is not, I repeat not, an Arab state). For more detailed biographical information on Barack Obama, look here.

Clearly the reason that some people might think of Obama as Arab is because of his first name, Barack, and his middle name, Hussein, both of which he received from his Kenyan father. I've looked at the meaning of his name here. While 'Barack Hussein' does come from the Arabic, that doesn't mean that he is an Arab, anymore than because my name is Carl Lindquist, that means I'm a Swede. I don't speak Swedish (I wish I did), nor did I grow up in Sweden. I am at most a Swedish-American, since my great-grandparents immigrated from Sweden (though I never knew any of them). Barack is obviously an African-American, in the same way, since his father was African. But he is not Arab-American, let alone an Arab.

It would obviously be a lot simpler if Barack Obama had just grown up in Chicago! But he grew up mostly in Hawaii, and then for four years in Indonesia, from age 6-10. So his upbringing gives him a somewhat distinct view of the world, which, dear reader, in this time of international turmoil, is actually very good!

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