Sunday, October 19, 2008

Is there something wrong?

"Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer is no. That's not America. Is there something wrong with a seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing he or she could be president? Yet I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion that he is a Muslim and might have an association with terrorists. This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

I feel particularly strong about this because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay, was of a mother at 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 head stone, it didn't have a Christian cross. It didn't have a Star of David. It has a crescent and 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 fourteen years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he could serve his country and he gave his life."

These are the comments made by General Colin Powell while endorsing Senator Obama for the Presidency of the United States of America. He referred to this picture when speaking to Tom Brokaw at Meet the Press this morning. I had no clue which picture he is talking about until I found it this evening. I looked at this picture for long time and felt deeply for this mother whose other 20 year old child, most likely would not be considered "clean" today unless proved otherwise....what we are looking at is not a headstone but a mom's heart ripped apart and buried in the ground.

It's about time sanity, peace and rationalism prevails in this world...This the America of Lincoln and Jefferson that beckoned me when I was growing up in India. This is the America of Steve Jobs and Warren Buffet that I found an ideal place to live in and dream. This is the America of Jimmy Carter and Garrison Kiellor that made me leave my loved ones and more. This is the America that I thought would be free from corruption, hatred, rapes, killings, riots, divisive politics that my country of birth always had a copyright on ....

This is the America that we all need at this crucial moment of our collective civilization!

(Photo: The New Yorker)