By now you've probably heard that Colin Powell has endorsed Barack Obama this morning, during an appearance on Meet the Press. This move has done a lot to redeem the former Secretary of State in my eyes. I've been disappointed with him for his role in pushing for the Iraq War, which he still doesn't seem to regret. But he also went further with his endorsement this morning by criticizing the McCain campaign—and the Republican party—for their subtle bigotry and intolerance peddling. In describing his disdain for Republican accusations of Obama being a Muslim, he said the correct answer to that charge shouldn't be to deny that he's a Muslim, but to say, "What if he is?" Powell continued, "Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer is 'No, that's not America.'"
The photo above, originally appearing in the New Yorker, is what Powell went on to refer to in this morning's interview:
"I feel strongly about this particular point 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 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 a Star of David. It had a crescent and a star of the Islamic faith. And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan. And he was an American."
He then added that Khan was only 14 years old at the time of 9/11 so he waited until he could join the Army. The Powell endorsement—and his break from the Republican party to support Obama—was, in some small way, a fitting tribute to that kid's life.
Watch the full interview below (I love MSNBC's video player)
In 1990, I co-founded a magazine called URB (urb.com) in Los Angeles. URB captures an intimate view of progressive urban sounds and landscapes in print and online. Beyond my day job, I also explore the world of politics, race and culture, photography and media (new and old). pure/ROKER is designed to be a living and shared notebook of the most discussion worthy aspects. Enrichment is encouraged. Debate and disagreement unavoidable. And dissent welcomed. As always, please leave a comment if you're inspired, subscribe to my RSS or email me anytime at email@example.com.