Artists always believe in the power of their work, but ‘mainstream’ America does not always agree. We can look at arts funding in our country to see where it ranks on the list of people’s priorities. But this photo of Elsheba Khan at the grave of her son, Specialist Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan may be enough to turn some heads. It definitely turned one. I don’t know about you, but I watched most of the political debates, and I did a fair amount of research on the candidates. I have known who I was voting for since the primaries, and I have already voted.
With all the information and misinformation floating around with this (and every) election, I love that a photograph was mentioned during someone’s endorsement. Not just anyone, but Colin Powell, President George W. Bush’s former Secretary of State. I am sure this was not a factor for Mr. Powell’s decision, but in his own words: One picture at the tail end of this photo essay was a mother in Arlington Cemetry, 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 a Star of David. It had a crescent and a star of the Islamic faith. And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan. And he was an American.
He mentioned this photo while discussing the Republican tactic of falsely claiming Barack Obama is Muslim. You can read more about Colin Powell citing this photograph during his endorsement and see the video itself (he begins discussing the photo at 5:11) at msnbc.com.