So I was on the couch yesterday morning watching Meet the Press (in what must have been the first time in a month the darling man and I have been able to relax together for more than 20 minutes at a time), and retired Gen. Colin Powell made the point I have been trying without success to make ever since this whole “Obama’s a Muslim!” thing started. He calmly, unabashedly and with great conviction said “it doesn’t matter.”
You can catch the full interview on MSNBC here. His exact words were as follows:
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.
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.
Thank you, Gen. Powell, for so eloquently explaining what really matters. It isn’t whether a candidate is Muslim, Christian, Atheist, Zoroastrian… it matters that they are an American. That they love and want to help our country, and that their policy stances are ones we wish to embrace. That is ALL that we should look for in any candidate.
I am aware there are those who will say “But if he’s Muslim, it will spill over into how he looks at things!” Could be, yes. My atheism certainly influences my line of thinking. What matters is, will the candidate attempt to instill religious influence in government? So far, only one in my lifetime has done so, and with disastrous results.
I will say, I find it vastly amusing that those railing for a “Christian nation” are so outraged at the thought of any other religion being involved in politics. Suddenly “it would infringe on my civil liberties!” has become a rallying cry for those who loathe what they think the ACLU stands for.
I applaud Gen. Powell for his statement, and sincerely hope that at least a few will consider his words and recognize that they are a plea of tolerance and wisdom, not a partisan attempt to sway.