Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Colin's Courage

Moved by a Crescent
Published: October 21, 2008

Maureen Dowd in an abnormally subdued column pays tribute to Colin Powell's courage in overcoming his party affiliation to endorse Barack Obama.

But what sent him over the edge and made him realize he had to speak out was when he opened his New Yorker three weeks ago and saw a picture of a mother pressing her head against the gravestone of her son, a 20-year-old soldier who had been killed in Iraq. On the headstone were engraved his name, Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, his awards — the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star — and a crescent and a star to denote his Islamic faith.
That picture and the accompanying New Yorker article can be found here. The caption simply says:
Elsheba Khan at the grave of her son, Specialist Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan.
But Maureen digs a little deeper and quotes the year-old obituary from the Newark Star-Ledger.
His obituary in The Star-Ledger of Newark said that he had sent his family back pictures of himself playing soccer with Iraqi children and hugging a smiling young Iraqi boy.
This image was enough for Colin Powell to break ranks with his party and call-out often unsubtle religious bigotry being paraded on the campaign trail.
In a gratifying “have you no sense of decency, Sir and Madam?” moment, Colin Powell went on “Meet the Press” on Sunday and talked about Khan, and the unseemly ways John McCain and Palin have been polarizing the country to try to get elected. It was a tonic to hear someone push back so clearly on ugly innuendo.
Dowd deliberately invokes the words of Joseph Welch's rebuke of Senator Joe McCarthy during his witch hunts. This time whispers of "Muslim" have replaced "communist" as the short-hand for "anti-American."

The column is not completely free of Dowdisms. She does combine a Rude Name and a Crossword Clue in a swipe at Colin's former commander-in-chief.
Even though he watched W. in 2000 make the argument that his lack of foreign policy experience would be offset by the fact that he was surrounded by pros — Powell himself was one of the regents brought in to guide the bumptious Texas dauphin — Powell makes that same argument now for Obama.
Dowd last used 'dauphin' to insult W. just over a year ago. She sums up with Powell's words that now refer to a new politician.
“Experience is helpful,” he says, “but it is judgment that matters.”
And the value of judgment is being able to turn mistakes into valuable experience, something that is not happening in the current White House.

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