One of the nice twists of fate in my life is that everyone in my immediate family has essentially the same politics. So there are no strained silences in an election year, we can all chime in and nod and agree with one another. The only possible downside to that is the dearth of outlandish emails. When everyone else on the internet is getting the kinds of forwarded emails featured on My Right Wing Dad, all I get is the usual spam.
But today one of my more distant cousins came through and forwarded a hatchet job written by an imaginary character, and it included the same old nonsense about Mr Obama’s name.
I’ve removed the gratuitously obnoxious parts.
[…] The rest of him is mostly Arab, which he hides but is disclosed by his non-African Arabic surname and his Arabic first and middle names as a way to triply proclaim his Arabic parentage to people in Kenya. Only a small part of him is African Black from his Luo grandmother, which he pretends he is exclusively.
What he isn’t, not a genetic drop of, is ‘African-American,’ the descendant of enslaved Africans brought to America chained in slave ships. He hasn’t a single ancestor who was a slave. Instead, his Arab ancestors were slave owners. Slave-trading was the main Arab business in East Africa for centuries until the British ended it.
Let that sink in: Obama is not the descendant of slaves, he is the descendant of slave owners.[…]
Some expert. Although Obama rhymes with Osama, Osama is an Arabic name and Obama is not. Not at all. It is a Luo name, and that means his father, grandfather, etc. were Luo, not Arab. Kenya is less than 1% Arab. Here’s a nice WikiAnswers page explaining Mr Obama’s last name. Short answer: Mr Obama’s Luo grandfather had no last name. Under the British, he was required to come up with one. He chose his father’s given name. From WikiAnswers:
Most Luo names were given at birth by mothers or grandmothers and referred to circumstances connected with the birth, or to things going on in the life of the mother near the time of birth. Obama is based on the Luo verb that means “to be slightly bent” or “to be twisted”.
I’m personally not even slightly versed in the history of slavery in Africa. The argument that Mr Obama’s ancestors were slave owners sounds like, well, the usual defensive accusation leveled by white guys who don’t want to feel bad about slavery in the United States.*
Kenya is, by the way, 70% Christian and only 10% Muslim.
Back to the names, Hussein, of course, is an Arabic name. A nice, auspicious one, at that. Here’s a post by Juan Cole on that general subject. I think I’ve linked to it before.
If you’re interesting in reading more about the character who supposedly wrote this, the supposed expert, his name is Jack Wheeler. You may find his website highly entertaining. He’s Indiana Jones, James Bond, and Albert Schweitzer all rolled into one. Please keep in mind when reading it that what he writes is very likely to be incorrect.
*Update: Isn’t this interesting. “Dr Jack Wheeler” wrote this:
The only Americans who owe reparations to the descendants of slaves are the descendants of slave owners. These people are one and the same, i.e., American blacks are a racial mix of white slave owner and black slave. Blacks owe reparations to themselves.
Frankly, I never expected to use the tag crackpot etymology for anything anybody else wrote. It just goes to show, you never know what’s coming next.