Sunday, October 19, 2008


There he is...

Colin Powell was on Meet the Press today and officially endorsed Barack Obama. I don't know if this is significant or not, I don't particularly care as I'm not really a fan of Powell's anyway, but he did say something that I thought was very profound and almost completely missing from recent discussion of race.

There has been a whisper campaign for quite sometime (I don't believe its centrally coordinated) that Barack Hussein Obama is a Muslim. A Pew Research poll this July showed roughly 12% of the electorate believe him to be a Muslim (20% of Evangelicals believe this). He is repeatedly referred to by his opponents as Barack Hussein Obama. He has to explain to people, no he is not a Muslim.

At a recent McCain rally, some woman said she did not trust Obama because "he's uh...he's an Arab."McCain was praised because he corrected the woman, said Obama was not an Arab, he was a decent, family man.

HERE is what Colin Powell said, that I haven't heard anyone else say, that struck me today, regarding these inuendos and rumors that Obama is an Arab and/or 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? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, "He's a Muslim and he might be associated terrorists." This is not the way we should be doing it in America."

Finally! My God did it really have to take this long for someone of prominence to say that? The fact that this context is virtually absent from the media speaks volumes of the levels of acceptable racism in this country against Arabs and Muslims.

Picture this. We have a campaign where two white men are running for president. One of them is of Eastern European descent; and there is a rumor that he is a closet Jew and has a secret Jew agenda. And at the opponents rally's people say they can't trust the other guy because "He's a Jew,"; and the all the opponent says is "No, no, he isn't; he is a decent family man who cares about this country."

I would hope people would be outraged; that the correct response should be "What if he was? Is there something wrong with that?" The only person I have heard say this is Powell. And there is something wrong with the fact that we do not hear more of that, from both McCain AND Obama.

Pardon my speculation, but its rather obvious Obama's campaign made a conscious decision not to say "No he isn't, but what if he was? There is nothing wrong with that" lest they look like they are defending Islam. Why? If person X is racist enough to care whether or not the candidate is Muslim, the campaign likely assumes they would associate any defense against racism with being a closet Muslim; or at the very least the campaign realizes a large segment of the electorate IS racist against Muslims and therefore they don't want to upset them by defending Islam. Simply put; its a strategic political descision not to upset racist white Americans who have enough to deal with having an African-American on the ticket. Shame on them.

For those who saw Powell on Meet the Press; he referred to a picture he saw in a recent photo essay, taken at Arlington National Cemetary.

In Powell's words

"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."

This is the photograph he was referring to.

From Jason Linkins:

"And some people, in fact, do have it harder than Joe The Plumber."

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