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Forty Plus Grumpy Old Men and My Son

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I had never seen a class like that. Neither as a student nor as a professor. It was not a regular class. I was conducting an investigation and going to interview a group of selected people there. There were 42 men in the room, lined up by the wall. All were men. I mean, all male, and all white! No black, no brown, no red, no yellow, no rainbow.... Five had beards, four mustaches, one had large mutton-chops, at least two were bald and more than half wore bow-tie. Seven of them had no citizenship; eight were originally from Virginia, seven from Ohio, four from New York and Massachusetts. None from Arizona or Washington, none from Oregon, Colorado or Florida... None had pony tail, nor wore T-shirt. Six James, four Johns, three Georges... No Mike, no Bob, no Elvis, no Chang, no Arjun, and no Muhammad...

This was my younger son's classroom, and I was looking at the pictures of the presidents parading on the wall, to see whether my older son would one day fit this exclusive club. I know that there are thousands of American families who are looking at their teens as if they are looking at the childhood of a future president. Though I have conflict of interest in sharing our strategy with the competitors, I will share with you my son’s quest to climb the political Everest.  Of course, aspiring to be the next president of the USA is like aspiring to win a lottery. So, I decided to study the statistics and groom my son accordingly.

Their ages ranged between 42 and 69. If the cranky old man who recently sang "bomb, bomb, bomb" win this election, then the range would increase by about ten percent. I was surprised to learn that seventy percent of the class was veterans! More than half of the presidents, twenty three of them, served in our government's pastime; wars! Only fifteen presidents did not preside over war during their terms; they were perhaps busy with covert operations or using dictators to increase the market for arms sale.

One crippled, one dwarf, and none was blind. Eleven Episcopalians, ten Presbyterians, five Methodists, five deists, four Baptists, four Unitarians, and only one Catholic. No Hindu, no Buddhist, no Jewish, no Sunni, no Shiite, and none were atheists. All had a solemn, serious look on their faces, except the five men closest to the door, starting with the Catholic, had smiles (or smirks, depending on your political affiliation) on their faces. Eight had no college education, and at least one could act like an idiot. Only 12 out of 42 presidents had no military experience. Six of them owned slaves, three had alcohol problem, eight had proven extramarital affair, and three had out of wedlock children. Though a great majority of them declared wars against poor and remote countries, killing and massacring millions of civilians, only two murdered men in peace time, if there was any. Though almost all were assumed to be crooks, with the exception of one, none showed the courage and naiveté to challenge that assumption publicly. Ironically, the only one who denied his crookedness was forced to resign!

Well, looking at the names and background of the 42 presidents, my older son’s chance is even slimmer than the chance of a USA president not declaring war to this or that "evil" country thousands of miles away. Three Georges, four Johns, and six James do not comfort me about my politically savvy son’s prospects! My son's chance for the top office, after Nine Eleven, is less than a former student of mine named Dusty Broom! Under a dizzying propaganda against Muslims by the coalition of Armageddon-freaks and the Oil/Weapon industry, Yahya Rashad Yuksel, born from Kurdish and Persian parents perhaps has no chance.

But, if senator Barack Hussein Obama, (Mr. H In-the Middle) becomes the 43rd president, then there could be some hope. It would be a big black and foreign-sounding crack in the pigment-free glass ceiling. As a mockery of the First Amendment, Barack Obama was forced to declare that he is not a Muslim but a Christian. He is expected to show off sipping wine pretending that it is the blood of his savior and eat holy cookies pretending it to be his flesh. He will get more votes if he releases the pictures of him participating in this pretentious holy cannibalism. We also know that even if he declares his Christianity 666 times, the religious right would not vote for him. He shares the same name with a dictator that was propped-up by the USA who was used and finally disposed for the barbaric crimes he committed with our support and supervision. Do you remember W's secretary of defense shaking hands with him? But, if Senator H wins the presidential election, it would be a profound fulfillment of “what goes around comes around.” Or a prophetic nominal reincarnation!

Let me go back continue sharing with you our family secret. My wife and I are two immigrants whose dreams were interrupted in their birth countries (Iran and Turkey) because of political and religious oppression. We are having derivative dreams through our offspring and we are shooting for the highest. We are raising two sons, Matine and Yahya, with ambitious long term agenda. The younger one is groomed to receive a Nobel Prize in a scientific field and the older one is expected to be the first Muslim president of the USA. For the summary of their progress report, see the footnote, which I had to delete because it was too impressive and would prematurely destroy the dreams of many parents in the competition.

You may blame us for pushing them too hard. To the contrary, we are not. Well, let me not talk on behalf of my wife, who is not even aware that I am letting our family cats out of the bag. No I am not pushing my sons too hard; but I confess that I have pushed them surreptitiously. I used my persuasive skills acquired through my philosophy and legal education and practice. I convinced them to be the best of whatever they choose to be. The best cook, the best plumber, the best carpenter, the best teacher, the best engineer, the best doctor, the best writer, the best mathematician, the best looser, the best of whatever... And one has so far chosen to be a scientist, and the other a politician.

Two major statistical Himalayas are stacked against my older son: religion, genetic origin, and name. Perhaps, at this point I do not need to worry much about the first, since my son does not subscribe to my theology; he has yet to pick one. He followed my advice of not following his parents’ religious conviction blindly. There is still another option: Yahya could transliterate his name into Latin, John. He could also change his last name Yuksel with its English meaning, Excel. (Yahya is the Arabic version of Yashua’s contemporary Yuhannan. Neither of them would turn their heads had their friends called them Jesus or John the Baptist). So, the mutated name John R Excel would appeal to the xenophobic Americans.

But, I am sure that the Carl Roves of the future would dig his past, unveil the name change, the meaning of R, the story about his name. Millions of Bible-Gun-Flag clinging Trinitarians would be tempted to declare him as the anti-Christ. If religious and nationalistic hormones were not sufficient to defeat him, cons would just add the most potent one, sex hormones, to the cocktail. They would easily bamboozle the intellectually challenged masses. Perhaps, they would even go further and declare him to be an elite, too smart to be their president; "Yahya is not an idiot like you, he is an elite; so do not vote for him" could be the slogan of their last resort. My only hope is that by the time my son reaches his 35th year in 2025, this paranoid environment would fade away and the number of hormone-addicted zombies would go down. lists the religious affiliations of presidents. Episcopalians and Presbyterians win in numbers. Despite their great population, there was only one Catholic president, JFK, and he was shot to death. I like Quakers and their social and political stance, yet one of the two Quakers was Nixon, the officially proven crook! As it seems, to increase his chance, my son needs to join a sect of Christianity. Though it is my son's choice, but personally, I will never approve let alone encourage my son's affiliation with any of these polytheistic (Trinitarian) religious groups. However, there is better news:

“One of the most over-represented religious groups among U.S. presidents is Unitarianism. Despite merging with Universalism in the 1960s, the combined proportion of Unitarian Universalists in the U.S. population is just 0.2% of the population (one in every 500 Americans). Yet there have been 4 Unitarian presidents.”

You know by now that I am a Muslim, though a reformist one. When my thirteen years-old son who somehow decided to replace Stanford University, his dream college since his fifth grade, with the University of California at Berkeley, he asked me whether Berkeley was among the so-called "Ivy League" universities. To learn more about Ivy colleges, I visited Wikipedia and there I learned that Harvard was founded by Unitarian Universalists. My curiosity about UU led me their website and then to their church in my neighborhood. I never feel comfortable in any church because of their idol-worship, warmongering, jingoism, irrationalism, anti science attitude, and regressive political agenda. Yet, I felt at home at the Uniterian Universalist church. I have been attending their meetings occasionally and I consider them as muslims without capital letter, that is, those who peacefully surrender to God alone.

Back to the presidents. The Unitarian presidents were John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Millard Fillmore, and William Howard Taft. Considering that the freethinkers or deists such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Andrew Johnson who did not join any church and had problem with deity of Jesus, the number of monotheists reaches to eight presidents. If we also include the only Jehovah Witness, Dwight D. Eisenhower, then the number reaches nine.

So, if Barack Hussein Obama wins this coming 2008 presidential election, then Yahya Rashad Yuksel, has a chance to add a few more cracks, perhaps a hole in the glass ceiling, and win the presidency in 2025! However, if Mc Caine (Gun and Flag) and Ms Palin (Bible and Sex) win this election, then my son should replace his American dream with a lifelong nightmare, together with other Americans who do not own seven houses, 13 cars, and do not make 5 millions a year while singing "bomb, bomb, bomb" in the shower.

I will end this article with two poems I wrote together with Yahya who recited them together with Zak at Tucson Obamafest:

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EDIP YUKSEL, J.D. is a progressive American-Turkish-Kurdish author/philosopher/lawyer/activist (too many hyphens and slashes, I know). His recent English books "Quran: a Reformist Translation", "Manifesto for Islamic Reform", and "NINETEEN: God's (more...)
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