Throughout the primary and election campaign, I’ve received lots of smear-mail about Barack Obama. Much of it includes knowingly false statements about him being a Muslim meaning, whether the smear-mail says it openly or not, that he is one step removed from the 19 evil men who crashed planes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field.
Yesterday, in his wide-ranging, stinging criticism of John McCain’s campaign and thoughtful rationale for endorsing Obama, Gen. Colin Powell made what I believe is the most-compelling shout out against the hate campaign Obama is enduring from so-called loyal Republican Americans.
“I'm also troubled by not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the party say. 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?
“Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, ‘He's a Muslim and he might be associated with 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 a 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.”
Gen. Powell still has a long way to go to rehabilitate his reputation after knowingly telling the world lies about the need to invade Iraq. But his comments on Meet the Press gave me an answer to send back to the perpetrators of the next smear-mail I receive about Obama being a Muslim:
“He’s not but so what if he is? Why can’t a Muslim – or a Jew or an atheist or a Hottentot, for that matter – be President of the United States? Isn’t that what America is all about?”
If you're born in Milwaukee, you are born a Democrat. And so I gravitated naturally to liberal politics, first as journalist and then an activist. I've been writing since I was eight years old and, after working in newsrooms for far too long, I have devoted much of the past decade as an independent investigative journalist. When not writing about politics or George Bush, I scribble out essays on the peculiarities of modern times.
Articles by Charley James: