Colin Powell, in his endorsement of Barack Obama moments ago on NBC’s Meet the Press, offered a bit of welcome honesty on the subject of our nation’s attitude towards those of other races and religions.

He was discussing his deep discomfort with false statements being made by senior members of his own political party about Barack Obama being a Muslim. But he went well beyond merely defending Obama and condemning that sort of deceptive politics.

The correct answer is that he’s 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? …

I feel strongly about this particular point 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 National 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, his Purple Heart and Bronze Star. It showed he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth and and date of death. He was twenty years old.

At the very top of the headstone, it didn’t have a Christian cross, it didn’t have a Star of David, it had 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 go serve his country and he gave his life.

Update: I see that in the few minutes that I’ve been typing up this portion of Powell’s remarks, other bloggers have also begun to single out the importance of this particular moment in the interview.

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