So what if he is?
Colin Powell, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State, during his endorsement of Barack Obama on last weekend’s Meet the Press:
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 terrorists.” This is not the way we should be doing it in America.
(Full transcript. Comments above on page 2 of the transcript.)
I can accept stupidity among the populace. There will always be angry, scared, bigoted people. I can even accept that some of those angry, scared, bigoted people are powerful enough to wind up in positions of authority in places like the National Review that allow them to spread their angry, scared, bigoted ideas on a national stage.
But what’s really demoralizing to me is that this is the first time I’ve heard a major public figure in American politics raise the appropriate response to the purely idiotic question of whether Barack Obama is a Muslim (or an Arab, since most of the angry, scared bigots don’t understand the difference). The right response is so what if he is?
Bravo, Powell. I wish more public figures had the courage to say that.