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Even together we lurch native symbolism to substance through President-elect Barack Obama, ns hope that he (and most Yalies) will certainly appreciate the symbolic and also substantive rewards of gift sworn in top top Jan. 20 together “Barack Hussein Obama.”

During the campaign, neo-conservatives such together Daniel pipe of Campus Watch and also Obama detractors believed it clever to highlight Obama’s head Muslim roots and also associations. Yet now that he’s won, you’d have to be as naive as a neo-con to miss the nobility and also world-historical benefit this nation would accomplish if, having overthrown a negative Hussein, it installed a an excellent one — not in Baghdad, yet in Washington.

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Yes, the psychic reels. Hussein is a surname of respect bestowed top top metaphorical descendants of the prophet Mohammed. One American president bearing that name, even only residually, will enact what philosophers contact a transvaluation of values, generating severe cognitive dissonance for millions of civilization like bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh, and for millions more, abroad, who space not favor them at all.

Islamicists, confronted with a Hussein in the White House, will rage the the great Satan has stolen and also polluted a holy name. However where to be they as soon as the Saddam Hussein, an admirer much more of Stalin 보다 of Mohammed, was butchering millions?

Unlike the dominance of the Hussein and of oil sheiks, mullahs and also the Taliban, the prospect of our Hussein’s inauguration is raising countless young Muslims’ autonomous hopes even greater than America has raised their really hopes of economic and cultural change. (As because that the economic, it’s telling that just as Obama’s election reflected west democracy’s deepest strengths, the iconically west Gordon Brown was begging the Saudis to assist the worldwide Monetary Fund.)

Notice, too, the affect of Barack Hussein Obama ~ above African-American youths who can once have actually been attracted to the nation of Islam, whose leader louis Farrakhan lives a stone’s litter from the Obamas in Chicago’s southern Side. Farrakhan endorsed Obama v a sort of desperation critical summer, only to it is in rebuffed, and with an excellent reason.

Still other ironies in Obama’s name room rich beyond measure. Barack is Arabic because that the Hebrew Baruch, definition “blessed” in both tongues — one more of the numerous achingly poignant, almost illicit, intimacies between the 2 languages and also religions. The most famed Jew come bear the surname was the 17th-century philosopher Baruch Spinoza, that crossed Christian and Jewish lines, blurring lock in order to transcend them.

Obama’s story color etc all 3 lines of Abrahamic religion — Christian, Muslim and Jewish — into a convergence more promising than that drawn more than a century earlier by the Rev. George Bush, a Presbyterian scholar, brothers of our president’s fifth-generation lineal antecedent, and also the an initial teacher the Hebrew, Arabic and also other Semitic and ancient languages at new York university in the 1830s.


In 1844, the Rev. Bush wrote “The valley of the Vision,” or “The dried Bones Revived: one Attempted proof of the Restoration and Conversion that the Jews,” which construed the Old Testament book of Ezekiel to prophesy Jews’ return to Palestine from all over the civilization in what bush insisted was the not-distant future.

I doubt that our departing president has actually read his ancestor’s exegesis, but if he additionally doesn’t know the publication of Ezekiel, at least Obama does. In his decided on race in Philadelphia critical winter, Obama recalled that, because that his black color Congregational church in Chicago, “Ezekiel’s ar of dry bones” was among the “stories — the survival, and also freedom, and also hope” that “became ours story, my story; the blood that had actually spilled to be our blood, the tears our tears.”

The Rev. Bush, who imagined the Jews’ go back to Palestine as a prelude to Armageddon, likewise wrote the first American publication on Islam, “Life that Mohammed,” heralding the prophet an imposter. That’s two added reasons why America’s Christian, Jewish and also Muslim prospects space brighter with Barack Hussein Obama than with any type of of the George Bushes we’ve known, not to mention with karl Christian Rove.

Obama might be no more a messenger that God than room Rove and also Bush, however at moment his project did speed intimations of the dreadful sublimity the the Hebrew God’s thundering in history; of the Christian pilgrim’s exalted, arduous journey; and also of the Muslim ummah’s bond of communal faith.

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And he does understand — together did an Abraham that was called Lincoln — the this republic have to keep on weaving into its tough, for free tapestry the threads of intrepid Abrahamic confidence that have figured so strong in that is beginnings and triumphs. That Obama color etc this knowledge from intimacies through Ezekiel and also Indonesia and the southern Side renders him providential enough.

Jim Sleeper is a lecturer in politics science and also a 1969 graduate of Yale College. He is the writer of “Liberal Racism” (1997) and also is currently writing a book on the Hebraic and also Puritan root of the American republic.