Sunday, October 19, 2008

What Makes America Special

The New Republic blog, The Plank, quoted a part of Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama during his appearance on Meet the Press this morning. I found the general's words to be poignant and instructive for us in these days of partisan politics.

And it is permitted to be said such things as, "Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim." Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he's a Christian. He's always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no, that's not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president?


I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay was of a mother in 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 headstone, it didn't have a Christian cross, it didn't have the Star of David, it had crescent and a 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 14 years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he can go serve his country, and he gave his life.

The photo is from "The New Yorker".


Sam said...

That picture is a real strong image, Joni. Thanks ...

Joni said...

It does make one think about the importance of our words and what ideals we value as Americans.

I have been saddened by the response Gen. Powell's endorsement has received. It is hard for me to imagine that his decision has been treated with such disdain by the "conservative" media.

Thanks, as usual for your comment.