Sunday, October 19, 2008

seriously

Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama's candidacy today. There had been rumors that he would, so it wasn't entirely surprising.

Like many others, I used to really admire Colin Powell, before the whole WMD fiasco. Parts of his statement reminded me why.

From his endorsement (via Huffington Post):

"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."


The picture:


It's a question I've been asking for months...even if Obama were a Muslim (which he isn't), what would be wrong with that, anyway?

In his endorsement, Powell asked that same question, but managed to state it way more eloquently than I ever could have. And, given that he's a highly public figure and a Republican, I'm sure it was much harder for him to raise the question at all.

I'm trying to express something, or several somethings, here. Resurgent admiration for Colin Powell? Regret that he got screwed by the Bush administration (or wrong place, wrong time, rock and a hard place, whatever). Renewed belief in his statesmanship. (Is statespersonship a word?) Hope that he might play a role in an Obama administration?

Put simply, I found his statement thought-provoking, truthful, deeply moving, and most of all, necessary.

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