Photography makes a difference: Colin Powell mentions Platon

Platon for the New Yorker: Elsheba Khan at the grave of her son, Specialist Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan.

Mentioned here previously, Platon’s work on the American military for the New Yorker is in the news today. Former US secretary of state Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama for the upcoming presidential election and, while doing so, brought up the picture at the top of this post.

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 Afganistan. And 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.”

There’s been a great deal of over-the-top rhetoric about Barack Obama’s heritage and his middle name, Hussein, which have led many of Obama’s detractors to call him a Muslim or an Arab (as if that were somehow a bad thing). While it’s hard to support everything Colin Powell has done in his political career, one has to respect such a public repudiation of hateful prejudices manifesting in current politics, and it’s great to see strong photography mentioned so prominently in connection with a call for decorum, rationality, and decency on the campaign trail.

(via PDNPulse)

2 Responses to “Photography makes a difference: Colin Powell mentions Platon”

  1. Truth and Storytelling: Connecting Vietnam and Iraq | Class Notes

    […] year, I also talked about Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama, and how he cited this very photograph as an example of his frustration with people who […]

  2. Moozweek | Moozweek

    […] photo from the September 29, 2008 issue of The New Yorker. In this black and white image, taken by Platon, Elsheba Khan cradling a gravestone marked with the traditional Islamic crescent and star, in Arlington National […]

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