Sunday morning, former Secretary of State Colin Powell announced his support for Sen. Obama's candidacy and the announcement has received its due coverage since, but I'd like to discuss a very specific part of his "Meet the Press" interview.
During the discourse, Powell brought up race. He didn't talk about blacks. Not at length, at least. What he did talk about was the anti-Muslim undertones brought to light during this election season. There's been discussion at great length about the earlier rumors regarding Sen. Obama's religious beliefs. His campaign said what they had to - that Obama was and has always been a Christian - and now the rumors are believed only by those who are ignorant to the point of blind hatred, and no amount of rumor disillusionment is going to get through that kind of mental block.
They may have employed the "right" strategy to fix any confusion regarding the democratic candidate's background. But until Powell's interview, nobody of any particular importance had discussed what should, ideally, have been the answer: that Barack Obama's, or any politician's, religious background should be a non-issue in America. I am very much hoping that this part of the interview gets picked up on by the major media outlets and discussed at the levels of repetition we are so used to from CNN and MSNBC.
I find it absolutely disgusting that being of Muslim faith is seen as a disqualifier in running for public office in the U.S., but I understand the reality behind this racism. As much as it makes me physically sick, I do understand it. But that does not mean I have to tolerate it or keep silent about how very wrong and how very anti-American it is to say, "No, you are an Arab, and we don't trust you in our Legislature or our White House or our Court."
Both campaigns run the risk of seeming anti-American at a crucial time by saying what Powell has said and what I'm saying here, now. But it has to be said. It has to be questioned. And racism must not be allowed to continue. As a nation that is founded on principles of inclusiveness, we can't be silent about this undercurrent of racist thought. It needs to be addressed, en masse.
So thank you, Colin Powell, for sparking the conversation. Now it's our job, as American citizens, to continue the discussion, shed this modern breed of racist dogma, and embrace all Americans as just that - Americans.
This process has no end, no finish - it is a constant path to be walked every day. But the lack of an end does not imply a fruitless endeavor; for walking this path creates a more just, equitable and fundamentally strong America.
Alex Berberich is a sophomore international relations major who prefers not to talk about religion. But politics are ok.