Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"Moved by a Crescent"

This morning as I was driving into work, I heard Thom Hartmann on "Air America" talk about Colin Powell's interview on Sunday. Powell talked about viewing a photo in the New Yorker, of the mother of a soldier pressing her head up against the gravestone of her son, Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan. Her son was a Muslim-American who served his country faithfully and won a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. Here is an excerpt of what Hartmann said after discussing Powell's interview:
In 1999, I was invited to spend a week with His Holiness The Dalai Lama at his home in Dharamsala, India. There was a group of us who thought we could persuade him to support an embargo against the Chinese to free Tibet and help end the suffering. The Dalai Lama asked, “Will one Chinese child die of starvation as a result of this embargo?” We all nodded yes, “Sometimes that’s the price for freedom.” He then said “If one Chinese child dies of starvation – it’s to high a price to pay, even for the freedom of his people.” At that moment, I realized that for most of my life I’d drawn a metaphorical circle in the sand around myself, my friends and family, and “we” were in “here” and “they” were out “there.” But the Dalai Lama had taken out his little whisk broom and brushed away that metaphorical line, showing us that it’s not us and them – it’s all “us.”

Dale Carnegie in his "How to win friends and influence people" talks about Two Gun Crowley, a notorious criminal back in the 30s and he lay dying, this guy, a bank robber, a famous bank robber, and mobster. He says, "All I ever wanted to do was help people". You know, every behavior has a positive intent behind it, no matter how functional or dysfunctional it may be or may not be.

In his farewell address, President Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.”

As much as I despise the behaviors of the Bush administration, I still believe that the vast majority of people in that administration are not anti-American. They had a vision for this nation which, although it didn’t work out, they thought it would. None of them envisioned this horrific scenario, just as the Libertarians and conservative Republicans never believed their behaviors would lead to the current economic crisis.

“Anti-American” is a slur that should be reserved for those who truly are. That includes none of the current crop of politicians, even Sarah Palin (although we can question her husband’s membership in the Alaska Independence Party and Joe Vogler, Founder of the Alaskan Independence Party.)

It’s all just “us.”

Then I saw this op-ed piece by Maureen Dowd speaking of the same thing. I realize we will not ever have a Muslim president. But what must Muslim-Americans feel when so many Republicans are hatefully throwing around epithets? As if Barack Obama being a Muslim (never mind the fact that he is not) automatically equates to being a terrorist.

I have so much more respect for Colin Powell than before. He was brave enough to stand up to his party and call out hatred and bigotry where he saw it...and not only to call it out, but to talk about how inspired he was by the patriotism of a Muslim American and fellow soldier.

And Rush Limbaugh discards Powell's endorsement of Obama by saying it's all about race. Clearly, he didn't listen to Powell's interview, or if he did, he didn't want to hear the truth. No big news in that.

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