|President Obama took the oath of office from Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. at the official swearing-in ceremony in the Blue Room of the White House on Sunday (NY Times)|
The majority of the global events that took place in the first decade of the 21st century can easily be traced to the policies of the United States, including the global financial crisis. One of the most incredible national event of the United States was the election of Senator Barack Obama as the President of the United States in November 2008, who went on to win the presidency again in November 2012.
Obama and Rev. Jesse Jackson (2008)
Rev. Jesse Jackson watched a star rising on the political horizon of American. This star, Barack Obama placed his hat in the Presidential Election ring. The fight to get Democratic nomination became nasty and his memorable speech made at the 2004 Democratic Convention was branded as the only asset in his bag as an achievement for the nomination and nothing else. Obama slowly and surely moved ahead of other candidates and won the Democratic nomination.
Later, Barack Hussein Obama went on to win the presidency of the United States on November 4, 2008. Many called this victory the sheer magic of the Obama wave; picture perfect family making their way to the White House; Americans voted to make America a better country, etc. etc.
On November 4, 2008 arrangements were made in a big park in Chicago, Obama’s hometown, to welcome him if he wins the presidency. This is in contrast with the traditional way used by the President-elect for thanking the people of the United States. In the past those seeking the presidency of the US would stay in big hotels with their families, friends and supporters. When the polls close and the winner is declared, the President-elect will emerge from his room and walk into the largest conference hall in the hotel where his supporters, party members, mass media and well wishers would welcome him as the next Commander-in-Chief of the United States. This time, on November 4, 2008, the victory rally was held outdoor for Obama, in a park.
Obama, after being declared as the President-elect and after accepting congratulations from John McCain, his opponent in the presidential race, came to the park and addressed his well-wishers from a podium that was specially constructed for the occasion. Top Democratic Party leaders, African American leaders, television and movie personalities and several thousand Americans were present in the park to welcome and hear Obama. One of the African American leaders present in the park was Rev. Jesse Jackson. Many times the television camera showed tears flowing from his eyes during Obama’s speech.
Rev. Jesse Jackson, an African American, one of the most powerful leaders of the US, an associate of Martin Luther King who fought for the civil rights for the minorities in the United States ran for the Democratic party’s nomination for the President of the US in 1984 and again in 1988. During the 1984 presidential campaign he established a political organisation called Rainbow Coalition, welcomed voters from a broad spectrum of races and creeds. He addressed them as a “Rainbow Coalition” of the disadvantaged and poor people of the United States of America. He supports minorities, especially the African Americans to achieve social and economic stability. And now, Jesse Jackson, who lost two bids to secure the Democratic nomination for the US presidency was crying at the victory rally for Barack Hussein Obama.
In 1988, Dr. Abdul Razzack Abu Khora, Chairman of the Islamic Centre of Southern California, Los Angeles, invited Rev. Jesse Jackson to speak to the Muslims of Southern California about his aspirations to become the President of the United States and to speak about his plans to improve the conditions of the lower strata of the American people. Jesse Jackson came to the Islamic Centre and spoke to the leadership first on the second floor meeting hall of the Islamic Centre urging the Muslim leadership to support his organisation “Rainbow Coalition” and his candidacy for the presidency, if nominated. Later, in the big conference hall on the first floor of the Islamic Centre Dr. Abdul Razzack Abu Khora introduced the Rev. Jesse Jackson to the audience and said, “Here we have Egyptians, Moroccans, Iraqis, Iranians, Pakistanis, Saudis, Libyans, indigenous Americans from various States including California, Sudanese and others; Rev. Jackson, this is the Rainbow Coalition.”
This reminded the Muslim American voters about what Arnold Toynbee had said in his book Civilization on Trial: “Two conspicuous sources of danger – one psychological and the other material – in the present relation of cosmopolitan proletariat with the dominant elements in our society are race consciousness and alcohol and in the struggle with each of these evils the Islamic spirit has a service to render which might prove if it were accepted to be of high moral and social value. The extinction of race consciousness as between Muslims is one of the moral achievements of Islam and in the contemporary world there is a crying need for the propagation of this Islamic virtue. If the attitude of the exponents of racial intolerance towards the race question prevails, it may eventually provoke a general catastrophe. It is conceivable that the spirit of Islam might be the timely reinforcement which would decide this issue in favour of tolerance and peace”.
Obama and Rev. Jesse Jackson (2012)
The Rev. Jesse Jackson was not in Chicago on election night, November 6, 2012, during President-elect Obama’s acceptance speech. He was in Philadelphia during the weekend, urging people in union halls to get out and vote. He was also preaching at Churches, speaking on radio program and meeting people in their neighborhoods. While speaking at the Malcolm X (Malik Shahbaaz) Park, he became emotional and declared Nov.6 a “Dignity Day” and urged every one to take a vacation on that day and remind neighbors to get to the polling stations. He said, “If necessary, we’ll take a sick day on Nov. 6. Because if we lose, we’re going to be sick on Nov. 7, Nov. 6 is sick prevention day. Nov. 6 is our national health care plan.” As if he was addressing himself and saying, “I cried with joy four years ago when Obama was elected, and if he loses this time, then I don’t want to cry because he lost.” Yes, the Rev. Jesse Jackson was not crying on November 6, 2012.
Obama made the acceptance speech in Chicago. During his speech, he also said, “America, I believe we can build on the progress we’ve made and continue to fight for new jobs and new opportunity and new security for the middle class. I believe we can keep the promise of our founders, the idea that if you’re willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love. It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, able, disabled, gay or straight, you can make it here in America if you’re willing to try.”
This immediately reminded the Muslims of the sermon delivered by our Prophet on the Ninth day of Dhul Hijja, 10 Hijri, in the Uranah valley of Mount Arafat at the Farewell Hajj. Prophet Muhammad said, “All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab, also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood.”(Quoting here only a portion of the sermon here)
Obama took the Oath two times in 2009
“I, Barack Hussein Obama, solemnly swear …..”, the words Obama spoke at the beginning of the swearing in ceremony. On January 20, 2009, at a specially erected podium in front of the steps of the Capitol Hill – Congressional Building – Washington D.C., Barack Hussein Obama took the oath of office. During the oath taking ceremony, John Roberts, the Chief Justice of the United States, who administered the oath to the president-elect, uttered words out of sequence. President elect Obama also hesitated and uttered the words as directed. After taking the oath, president elect Obama became the President of the United States.
“I, Barack Hussein Obama, solemnly swear …..” A second swearing-in ceremony took place the next day in the White House. This time the Chief Justice uttered the words in correct sequence. This was done to validate and confirm, and also to put to rest the doubts, questions and concerns about the oath taken a day earlier.
Barack Hussein Obama became the 44th President of the United States of America. This is the first time in the history of the United States that a President has taken the oath of office twice because of the hesitancy of the Chief Justice of the United States in uttering the words. Thus the name ‘Hussein’ reverberated both in the chambers of Congress and also at the White House.
Obama took the Oath two times in 2013
President Obama took the oath of office in a private ceremony at the White House on Sunday, January 20, 2013. This brief private affair was held in the Blue Room of the White House. President Obama’s immediate family and a few reporters attended this swearing-in and oath taking ceremony, however, this ceremony was televised live and streamed live on the Internet.
The public inaugural festivities were scheduled for Monday January 21, 2013. But the Constitution says that the president must take office on Jan. 20. Therefore the private ceremony was held at the White House on Sunday. The swearing-in on Monday was a re-enactment of the ceremony.
Obama’a Middle Name and Citizenship (2008)
During the presidential election campaign of 2008 the Neo-Conservatives, members of the Republican Party and political manipulators made a big issue of the middle name of Obama – Hussein: Barack Hussein Obama is a secret Muslim. He will take oath using a Koran, change policies around, engage in helping Muslims secretly, will be soft on terrorism. These political estimators and extremists were scared to use the race card – black and white – in this election, knowing fully well that it would cost the Republican Party the presidency. So they used his father’s religion, Islam, and his middle name ‘Hussein’ to appeal to the conservatives and extremists of America not to vote for him.
Then, these politicians started the propaganda that Obama is not a US citizen, even though he was born in Hawaii. When Obama was two years old, his father left him and his mother; his parents’ divorce was finalised in 1964. Later Obama went with his mother to Indonesia, where his Caucasian mother married an Indonesian. The politicians and members of the Republican Party continued their propaganda about Obama’s Muslim roots in Kenya and Indonesia. The whole strategy started working in favor of John McCain, the Republican candidate.
In 1960s and 1970s the name ‘Hussein’ was made fun of by the extremists and politicians in the US because of King Hussein of Jordan. During the June 1967 war King Hussein lost a portion of his kingdom. The portion of the kingdom he lost to Israel was Palestinian-West Bank and Bait-al-Maqdes-Jerusalem. Many jokes were created by Americans around the name ‘Hussein’. American Muslim Africans, Arabs, Pakistanis, Indians and Bangladeshis, who had Hussein as their last name, were harassed and made fun of at their places of work in these United States. In some offices and factories in the United States it became the basis for bias and discrimination. Harassed and made fun of, a friend of this writer changed his last name and made Hussein his middle name; retained H. as his middle initial.
In 1980s (The Iran-Iraq War, also called The First Persian Gulf War (1980-1988)) and again during this 21st century Saddam Hussein became the target of the extremists sections of the American society who started making fun of the name ‘Hussein’ and also the first name Saddam. The indelible images of the destruction of the twin towers in New York in 2001 had already added new dimensions to the harassment and discrimination of Muslims throughout the United States and later after the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Baseless assertions were hurled at Barack Hussein Obama accusing him of misrepresenting his ethnicity. Continued repetition of baseless smear that Obama is an Arab was aimed at the ignorant and naive Americans to urge them not to vote for Barack Hussein Obama. This opened the floodgates of anti-Muslim and anti-Arab sentiments during this highly charged election season of 2008. At the same time the high level of ignorance about Islam, by those who disseminate hatred and intolerance, brought the Tsunami of hatred closer to Muslims and Arabs.
At one of the campaign stops, a supporter of the Republican Party openly told McCain, “I don’t trust Obama. He is an Arab.” This was the height of ignorance and the height of hatred. McCain listened to her shaking his head and then took the microphone from her, “No. Ma’am,” he said, “He is a decent, family man, a citizen that I just happen to have disagreement with.”The Muslims and the Arab citizens of the United States, and the Muslim and Arab members of the Republican Party were shocked by McCain’s answer.McCain should have said, “There would be nothing wrong with being an Arab, but Obama is not,” suggested one journalist after hearing the shallow answer given by McCain. The way McCain said it strongly implied that he had a low opinion of Arabs. Disinformation, misinformation and ignorance played a great part in McCain’s answer that reflected his desire to win the presidency at any cost.
Obama’a Middle Name and Citizenship (2012)
During the campaign for the Republican Party’s nomination many candidates used harsh and offensive language to refer to Obama’s very obvious and popular Muslim middle name, Hussein, his birth, circumstance of birth and his heritage. Donald Trump, a Republican candidate, felt that it is imperative to discuss President Barack Obama’s place of birth. Too many Americans think President Barack Obama is a citizen of Kenya or Indonesia. They refuse to accept that he was born in Hawaii. Some other politicians and writers started promoting the idea and posed the question: Where’s the Birth Certificate? It should be noted that Barack Obama did release proof of his citizenship, in June 2008. Still many Americans trust the evidence contained in an erroneous online report about Obama’s grandmother saying he was born in Kenya.
Election Day, November 6, 2012
The nastiness of the American politics was felt throughout the world when the opponents of Obama engaged in trickery and demagoguery and presented recklessly inaccurate information about his birthplace, birth certificate and his middle name and demanded answers. The campaign ended on November 5, 2012.
The day of reckoning came on November 6, 2012 when millions of Americans went to polling stations throughout the United States. Each voter after entering the polling booth with the ballot paper visually checked names of the presidential candidates and made a decision. After selecting choices for other categories the voter picked up the ballot paper, placed it in the jacket provided for the ballot paper and handed it over to the polling officer to be checked and dropped in the ballot box. Then the voter left the polling station and went home.
On that day the Americans reelected Barack Hussein Obama as the President of the United States of America for a second term.
Mohammad Yacoob is a retired Industrial Engineer and Engineering Proposals Analyst who lives in Los Angeles, California.