This morning on Meet the Press, former U.S. Secretary of State and Republican Colin Powell formally endorsed Barack Obama for President. This was much anticipated, and though it comes as no surprise I hope his clout and visibility serve Obama well.

But there’s a more important story to this endorsement.

Know when I first encountered real-life bigotry regarding Obama? It was eight months ago, and someone I know and love—and who is both a big-city dweller and a Democrat—said he thought Obama’s name would really hurt him, because people would think he’s a Muslim. And then he went on further to say that he, himself, would never vote for a Muslim. I was appalled into speechlessness.

The blatant bigotry that’s been increasingly visible these last few weeks is startling and disgusting. And the nature of it is a little surprising, isn’t it? It’s not racism, per se. People aren’t fearing Obama because he’s black. They’re fearing him because they’re choosing to believe that he’s a Muslim. And so it’s incredibly important, and hopefully not too late, when Powell says that the appropriate response to people saying, “I won’t vote for Obama because he’s a Muslim,” isn’t to correct them and say, “But no, he’s a Christian.” It’s to say, “So what if he is?”

Is it because I’m Jewish and have always been reminded that my people have historically received the ugliest of hatred that I’m so disgusted by bigotry? It can’t be, since my acquaintance, above, is Jewish, too.

Tell me it ain’t so that in our post-9/11 world it’s become acceptable to trade one bigotry for another. Is that what it boils down to?

Watch the video.