Jeff Strabone of Brooklyn now signs credit card receipts with his newly assumed middle name, while Dan O’Maley of Washington, D.C., jiggered his e-mail account so his name would appear as “D. Hussein O’Maley.” Alex Enderle made the switch online along with several other Obama volunteers from Columbus, Ohio, and now friends greet him that way in person, too.
“I am sick of Republicans pronouncing Barack Obama’s name like it was some sort of cuss word,” Mr. Strabone wrote in a manifesto titled “We Are All Hussein” that he posted on his own blog and on dailykos.com.
New Husseins began to crop up online as far back as last fall. But more joined up in February after a conservative radio host, Bill Cunningham, used Mr. Obama’s middle name three times and disparaged him while introducing Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, at a campaign rally. (Mr. McCain repudiated Mr. Cunningham’s comments).
The practice has been proliferating ever since. In interviews, several Obama supporters said they dreamed up the idea on their own, with no input from the campaign and little knowledge that others shared their thought.
Some said they were inspired by movies, including “Spartacus,” the 1960 epic about a Roman slave whose peers protect him by calling out “I am Spartacus!” to Roman soldiers, and “In and Out,” a 1997 comedy about a gay high school teacher whose students protest his firing by proclaiming that they are all gay as well.
The friend I’ve known the longest, since we were four years old, and I always used the other’s last name as our second (or third) middle name. She’s Italian Catholic and so had a confirmation name, so she had five names, but I had four. We did it as a sign of how close we were to each other and each other’s family. It is a wonderful, warm memory.
I don’t think I’ll be adding Hussein to my name, but I can understand the appeal for those who are doing it. Cute, very cute. I like those kinds of symbolic efforts.