I believe his exact words were:
“I think we need a transformational figure. I think we need a president who is a generational change and that’s why I’m supporting Barack Obama, not out of any lack of respect or admiration for Sen. John McCain.”
Now, given Powell’s stature and the respect he garners on either side of the aisle and among independents and moderates, this endorsement is apparently a big deal to Obama’s aspirations and a huge setback for McCain.
Powell cited the negative tone of McCain’s campaign and his choice of Sarah Palin as running mate as some of the reasons for his support for Obama. Among other things that troubled Powell were some Republicans (not McCain) repeatedly calling Obama a Muslim.
“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,” Powell said. “Is there something wrong with some 7-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president?”
That is refreshing to hear coming from a mainstream politician in America. This is not something we’ve heard to date from either the Obama or McCain campaigns. The Obama campaign has always “denied that Obama is a Muslim” and McCain has always “criticized anyone who called Obama a Muslim” as if there is something wrong with being one. But the right answer like Powell says is “he is not, but then again so what if he is”.
We’ve all been too quick to accept the idea that calling someone Muslim is a slur. I feel like I am stating the obvious here, but apparently it needs to be said: There is a difference between radical Muslims who support jihad against America and Muslims who want to practice their religion freely and have normal lives like anyone else.
Of course, before Gen. Powell (retd.) and Ms. Campbell expressed the sentiment that one’s religion should really not be a factor, a humble blogger from a niche desi blog had raised the same question as early as last year. [UD]
Granted religion tolerance is not a strong point in this nation at this juncture in history, with the tyranny of the majority prevailing. But this problem is further damaged by unwillingness of the (so-called) leaders of this nation to promote religious tolerance. Instead people like Romney choose to either tailor their religious beliefs to align with that of the majority and people like Obama and Bobby Jindal completely wash their hands off any past religious links the majority views in an unfavorable light.
A true leader would’ve said: “Ok, so I grew up practicing so-and-so religious belief including attending their schools. But when I govern this country, I will leave my religion out of the equation and deal fairly with people of all religions and cultures and in doing so will set an example in religious harmony and tolerances for the citizens of this wonderful nation”.
The 800 pound gorilla in the room has always been the question that no one asked: “So what if he is/was Muslim? There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.” Ladies and gentleman, I’m happy to announce the 800 pound gorilla has left the building.