I think that’s a fair question in light of yesterday’s murderous shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, which authorities have attributed to Major Nidal Malik Hasan, a 39-year-old Army psychiatrist who reportedly was about to be deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.
According to The New York Times, Hasan was "born and reared in Virginia, the son of immigrant parents from a small Palestinian town near Jerusalem." The Times said "he joined the Army right out of high school, against his parents’ wishes. The Army, in turn, put him through college and then medical school, where he trained to be a psychiatrist."
The Times reported that "Major Hasan had two brothers, one in Virginia and another in Jerusalem, his cousin said…The former imam at a Silver Spring, Md., mosque where Major Hasan worshiped for about 10 years described him as proud of his work in the Army and ‘very serious about his religion.’”
On Oct. 19, 2008 — a little more than one year ago — in an appearance on "Meet the Press" in which he endorsed then-Senator Barack Obama, a Democrat, for President over fellow Republican John McCain, Powell, a retired four-star Army general and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a former National Security Advisor, said:
I’m also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the party say. And it is permitted to be said such things as, "Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim." Well, the correct answer is, he is 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’s 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? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, "He’s a Muslim and he might be associated terrorists." This is not the way we should be doing it in America.
I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay was of a mother in Arlington 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–Purple Heart, Bronze Star–showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death. He was 20 years old. And then, at the very top of the headstone, it didn’t have a Christian cross, it didn’t have the Star of David, it had crescent and a 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 14 years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he can go serve his country, and he gave his life. Now, we have got to stop polarizing ourself in this way. And John McCain is as nondiscriminatory as anyone I know. But I’m troubled about the fact that, within the party, we have these kinds of expressions.