Former Secretary of State Colin Powell officially endorsed Barack Obama for President on Meet the Press this morning. But, incredibly, that’s not the most important thing he had to say in the interview. Referring to the Republican whisper campaign that claims Obama is a crypto-Muslim, Powell said (around 4:38 in this video):
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 is 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 this suggestion, “He’s a Muslim, and he might be associated with terrorism.” This is not the way we should be doing it in America.
Powell puts his finger on the ugly nature of the Muslim Obama rumors, which has bothered me basically from the first time I heard it, but hasn’t been much discussed in any major media outlet: why should it make a difference if Barack Obama is Muslim? As long as he’s an American citizen, his religion shouldn’t matter in a run for the Presidency. On the Media only picked it up last week – though once they did, they dissect the issue with the acumen you’d expect. More even then the endorsement, which is a big deal, I hope Powell’s MTP appearance starts a conversation about this.