I have been saying this as far back as February during the primaries – the correct response to the “Obama muslim” smear was not just to deny it, but also to ask, “so what?” Colin Powell rises to the occasion by saying what Obama still has not said:
“Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.” Well, the correctanswer is, he is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian. He’s always been aChristian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is theresomething wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no,that’s not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-oldMuslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, Ihave heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, “He’s aMuslim and he might be associated terrorists.” This is not the way weshould be doing it in America.
I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture Isaw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who are serving inIraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photoessay was of a mother in Arlington Cemetery, and she had her head onthe headstone of her son’s grave. And as the picture focused in, youcould see the writing on the headstone. And it gave his awards-PurpleHeart, 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 theheadstone, it didn’t have a Christian cross, it didn’t have the Star ofDavid, it had crescent and a star of the Islamic faith. And his namewas Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, and he was an American. He was born inNew Jersey. He was 14 years old at the time of 9/11, and he waiteduntil he can go serve his country, and he gave his life. Now, we havegot to stop polarizing ourself in this way.
Given the – ahem – Obsession with muslims in our political sphere, it is tragic that Barack Obama has consistently failed to say such a simple thing. I don’t think Obama needs Powell
s endorsement to win the Presidency, but perhaps he will draw some inspiration, and courage, from Powell’s example instead.
UPDATE: here’s the video of Powell’s remarks above: