So Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama this past weekend on Meet the Press, in case you live under a rock and did not hear. While I think that will make a difference in his campaign because, according to NPR, a lot of Independents like Powell and trust him, he made two significant points that I'd like to mention:
1) Barack Obama is not an Arab, as many who dislike/distrust him say. He's an American.
2) [More importantly, in my mind] Why should it matter if he is? He's STILL an American, despite the doubts that others have about his birthplace and his parents' legitimacy of marriage. But again, why should it matter if he is? We still, in our great and enlightened age where everyone gets to vote and we call ourselves a melting pot or a salad bowl or a choose-your-metaphor, we still have a great deal of prejudice against Arabs or anyone who "looks like one". Particularly since September 11, 2001, many Americans have had deep-seated prejudice against Arabs and Arab-Americans. To say that Obama is an Arab and have that not qualify him for presidency just shows me that we still have a lot of hatred and bigotry running through our veins, and we cannot grow or even survive as a country if we allow others to harbor these feelings. Arab still equals terrorist? Have we really gone back to WWII when we interned all the Japanese-Americans? (Yes, I know some may point out we're doing that now in our military prisons.) How do we unify as a country when we refuse to let someone who isn't an American of European descent run it?
Perhaps I'm acting naive. I don't know. I'm not sure if I agree that we should become a bilingual country or if we should unify under a national language and I'm not sure I entirely disagree with former Sen. Richard Lamm (CO-Dem)'s fears of multiculturalism. I believe that people come here for a certain kind of freedom that they can't get anywhere else. I think our country's pretty fractured right now, on various fronts, and I don't know what to do to "fix" that, for lack of a better word. How we can unify while still allowing people cultural autonomy. I go about my day, just like everyone else, and I do what I can to make it a good day and a good place for myself and those around me. But we need someone larger than us to do that for the country. We need the best candidate. Ethnicity shouldn't matter; a love for this country and a willingness to do what's best for it should.
I usually keep my opinion pretty tame on this blog with regard to these matters. Perhaps it's because I hear these sorts of narrow-minded comments at the same time we're reading To Kill a Mockingbird, where a jury convicted Tom Robinson of rape simply because of his skin color, based on the Scottsboro Trial where a similar real-life event happened. I just see too much parallel thinking along similar race-based lines.
I hope we can rise above our prejudices. I hope we can choose a candidate based on who will do the most for our country. I have an idea of who I think that person is, and it's because he's most qualified. He can lead this country in the direction it needs to go.
Whew, OK, I'm done.