At last - Good news for all faiths - Jews, Christians, Hindus and Muslims - There are still fair-minded and balanced leaders in America.
“Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?” Powell rhetorically asked on Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press (see minute 4:28). “The answer’s no, that’s not America.”
Hollywood actor Ben Affleck expressed a similar sentiment on Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday (see minute 5:16).
Affleck referred back to McCain’s response to a woman at one of his rallies who said she did not trust his opponent because he was allegedly an Arab. “He’s a decent family man that I happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues,” McCain told her.
“What if somebody said to you, “I heard that he was a Jew?” and I said, “No, he is not a Jew, he’s alright?”” Affleck asked Maher’s audience, which laughed after quickly catching on to his demonstrated absurdity of the question. Affleck gave another example using Catholic.
“Arab and good person are not antithetical to one another,” Affleck emphasized, drawing applause.
“This prejudice that we have allowed to fester in this campaign, where we have allowed this idea—denying the fact that Obama who yes is not an Arab nor is he a Muslim—but, we have allowed that to turn into the acceptance of both of those things as a legitimate slur is really a problem,” he told Maher, “These are not slurs. They are categories of human being. They are not slurs of people and no one in the media stood up and said that.”
“We can’t tolerate this ignorance, not in the media, not on the campaign trail. Of course he’s not an Arab. Of course he’s not a Muslim, but, honestly, it shouldn’t matter,” Campbell told her viewers.
Powell agreed before giving a poignant story of a Muslim American from New Jersey who gave up his life to serve in Iraq for 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 crescent and a star of the Islamic faith. And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, and he was an American.”
Many American citizens, including Arab Americans and Muslim Americans, I spoke to were relieved to hear these public figures reject the use of one’s religion or background as a slur, but some were displeased with the timing of the repudiation with the election just two weeks away.
What do you think? Should there have been repudiation from the start? If so, why? If not, why not?