In the midst of his endorsement of Barack Obama yesterday, Colin Powell made some remarks about the religious bigotry of some McCain/Palin supporters– including GOP officials– that I would like to strongly associate myself with:
Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer is no. That’s not America. Is there something wrong with a seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing he or she could be president? Yet I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion that he is a Muslim and might have an association with terrorists. This is not the way we should be doing it in America.
I feel particularly strong about this because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay, was of a mother at Arlington Cemetery and she had her head on the headstone of her son’s grave. And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone, and it gave his awards – Purple Heart, Bronze Star – showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death, he was 20 years old. And then at the very top of the head stone, it didn’t have a Christian cross. It didn’t have a Star of David. It has a crescent and star of the Islamic faith.
And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan. And he was an American. He was born in New Jersey. He was fourteen years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he could serve his country and he gave his life.
And here’s the picture Powell was referring to:
So the next time someone tells you they can’t vote for Barack Obama because he is a Muslim, it’s fine to correct them and let them know he is in fact Christian, but it’s also imperative to respond as Powell does: “So what if he is?” Right now, there are Muslims– and Christians and Jews and athiests and Hindus and non-white, non-gun owning, latte-sipping, big city liberals– who are dying in American uniforms. They deserve our respect. And their children deserve to know that in this America– our America, the real America– they too can grow up to be President.