The Muslim-American soldier in Gen. Colin Powell’s Endorsement

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As many of you know, Gen. Colin Powell (R) endorsed Barack Obama on Meet the Press on Sunday. It is something that many progressives have been hoping and waiting for for some time. While it would be easy to dig into the partisan mud, the moment that struck me most was how the photograph of a Muslim soldier factored into Powell’s endorsement.

“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. Now, we have got to stop polarizing ourself in this way. And John McCain is as nondiscriminatory as anyone I know. But I’m troubled about the fact that, within the party, we have these kinds of expressions.”

The photo actually appeared in the New Yorker back in September. It wasn’t difficult to find.

It’s a stark, moving image. And speaks more truth than any political rally or campaign stop, Democrat or Republican. And then I noticed the date of his birth.

It’s a notable day. Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12. As was Charles Darwin.

But as I write this it gets harder and harder for me to look at the image. Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan was born 20 years to the day after I was born. I share my birthday was this hero, who has given more in his 20 years than I will give in an entire lifetime.

I ask, how many more need to die?

Post by ILO on 10/20/08 at 4:15 pm