On August 28, 2016, the Democratic Party at its convention for nominating Hillary Clinton as its presidential candidate had Khizr Khan as a political attacker against the Republication Party nominee, Donald Trump. Mr. Trump, with his usual thin skin, retaliated by criticizing the fact that while Mr. Khan talked, his wife sat silently next to him.

Mr. Khan is a naturalized US citizen of Pakistani origin and identifies himself as a Muslim. His son, Humayun was a US Army Captain in 2004, when he was killed while on war deployment in Iraq. Thus, according to US military veteran language, the junior Khan was a “Gold Star” and the Khan family is a “Gold Star Family.” Mr. Khan’s attack against Mr. Trump was due to the latter’s call, in December 2015, for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”

Donald Trump’s call for banning entry of Muslims in the USA was after the Islamic terrorist attack in San Bernardino earlier in December 2015, where 14 people were killed and 22 injured. Since then, the worst mass shooting in the history of the USA was committed by an Islamic terrorist in Orlando on June 12, 2016, where 49 people were killed and 53 injured. Also since December 2015, several major similar terrorist attacks were committed in Western Europe by people from the same religious group. Thus, Mr. Trump and many in the Republican Party maintain an opposition to allowing Muslim immigration to the USA, and people like Khizr Khan are against the Republicans.

Clearly, Donald Trump’s attack on a mother whose son died on US military duty in a foreign war was in poor taste. He actually could have made the Khan speech at the Democratic Party Convention beneficial to himself by affirming that he was opposed to immigration of Muslims like the killers of Humayun to the USA. Instead, he attacked a grieving mother, and made the dishonest father look bigger in the USA. His words have also made the Muslims look like worse victims in the country than what they actually are. The fact of the matter is that in the USA ordinary Muslims have more dignity and rights than in practically any Muslim majority country of the world. Most Muslims from Muslim majority countries are also fully aware of the horrible treatments that non-Muslims get in their native countries.

However, let us look at what Mr. Khan’s talk was actually worth.

According Mr. Khan him, “Our son, Humayun, had dreams too, of being a military lawyer … .” Clearly, Humayun did not intend to fight in a foreign war.

According to Mr. Khan, “he put those dreams aside the day he sacrificed his life to save the lives of his fellow soldiers.” Did Humayun volunteer to go to Iraq war in 2004, or he was obligated to do so for the benefits that he had already received from the US military? Did he really give his life to save his fellow soldiers? The fact was that he was killed by a fast-approaching suicide car bomb at his check-post, very likely before he fully realized what was going on.


Also according to Mr. Khan, “If it was up to Donald Trump, he (Humayun) never would have been in America.” This was a very dishonest statement. Humayun came to America at the age of 2 in 1978, graduated from high school in 1996, and entered the University of Virginia, where he joined the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, graduating in 2000. In 1978 or 2000, no one was talking against Muslims in America.

Now, let us look the America’s foreign warriors a bit.

In 1981 when I came to the USA as a graduate student, I had a white American colleague. We used to work in the same laboratory. We used to chat on various topics. One topic was America’s wars in foreign lands. For the soldiers, his understanding was that they were recruited disproportionately from crime-ridden inner-city neighborhoods, and that it was good for everyone.

The recruit is generally given free education and military training by the US government. From an inner-city criminal that could have been dead due to gang-violence, he becomes a disciplined individual. Of course, for what the government has given him, he is obligated to serve in combat missions. After he completes his obligations, if he comes back alive and takes up a civilian life, he is a disciplined and productive member of the society. If he is dead in a mission, he is a hero that served his country. His family, friends and community are proud of him; as opposed to being sad, if not ashamed, of his death that could have happened due to gang-violence.

My friend’s opinion made sense to me. In fact, it has been widely held in this country. For example, the current US Secretary of State, John Kerry, who was also the Democratic Party candidate for the President in 2004, was against an all-volunteer army in 1972, arguing that such an army would be “an army of the poor and the black and the brown.” Mr. Kerry was also in some political hot water in October 2006, when he told a gathering of students at Pasadena City College, “You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.” It was interpreted as students who do not do well at school are likely to take the advantage of financial help from the military and then being required to get into wars abroad.

There are numerous examples of members of poor families who were sent in multiple tours of duties in places like Iraq, and surely most of them did not do it willingly; they had to have their obligations for getting help from the military fulfilled.

In fact, the US government has had policies of recruiting foreign nationals in the military, where they would get US citizenship easily, without getting the green card (permanent residency) first. Of course, in lieu of the education, training and benefits they get, they would be required to serve in war zones. And of course, a US citizenship has always been a highly desired benefit for a lot of people from many parts of the world.

Thus, while “Gold Star” is a respectable title, it does not always come from willingness to sacrifice life, especially when America is not at serious foreign wars, such as in the 1990s, when the junior Khan benefited from the US military as a member of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. However, any death or dismemberment while serving the country in a foreign war should be appreciated and honored by the nation. Humayun and his family have been honored by the USA with their “Gold Star” status. But, using that honor to exaggerate and manipulate truth for political gain was not only unscrupulous; it was disrespect for the fallen soldier as well.

Clearly, the Khan speech and its display at the Democratic Party Convention of 2016 were dishonest and an exercise in irresponsible political correctness vis-à-vis the serious worldwide problem of Islamic fanaticism and terrorism.

Sukhamaya (Sam) Bain is a rational and secular humanist who is against any kind of injustice, hatred or atrocity on any kind of humans. With a PhD in Chemistry he is a scientific professional. However, he occasionally writes on sociopolitical issues, as he feels strongly that societal justice is vital for the well-being of mankind. A collection of his writings can be found in

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  1. K SHESHU BABU says:

    Truth is that many army personnel enrol themselves in the service due to necessities rather than show of ‘ nationalism’ or ‘ patriotism’ over the world. USA is no exception. The recruitment into army gives many benefits and those are willing to benefit from the allurements, whether it is native Americans or Muslims, join the army. Khan is one such Muslim. He followed the US government instructions and sacrificed his life. Win or loss in a war does not mainly depend on religious factors but it depends on strategy.
    Here, US policy on Iraq failed though it massacres many Iraqis alongwith Saddam Husain. Blaming Muslims presence in army is incorrect. Trump is trying to provoke trouble by his partisan statements and ‘ patriotic’ posture. In the whole quagmire, the brutality of US is being sidelined.

  2. Najeeba Pallak says:

    The article seems to pin the blame on terrorism solely on Islam while ignoring the US foreign policy in the Middle East which has aggravated the situation. The writer is biased in his views as is apparent from his blaming the entire Muslim community. He also conveniently omits the false claims that US started its illegal and criminal war on Iraq.
    The US army consists mainly from the lower end of the US income scale rather than those who are more financially well off. Statistics show that lack of better employment opportunities and poverty are major factors for those joining the army. The writer ignores the pschychological and social problems faced by the war veterans and instead states they return home ‘ disciplined’.
    I’m more disappointed with Countercurrrents which I view as credible independant media in publishing this clearly racist article.

  3. Sukhamaya Bain says:

    I am glad to see that both K. S. Babu and N. Pallak realize that joining the US military is not necessarily for scarifying life for the country; in most cases it involves trying to advance one’s career and quality of life.

    As for terrorism, obviously not all terrorist activities in the world are being done by people from the Islamic faith. However, in the world today most terrorist and barbaric actions for promoting and protecting religion are being committed by people who identify themselves as Muslims. Having said that, I think the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the USA remain the worst terrorist acts in the history of the world. I also was always against the US military actions in Iraq and Libya.

    However, let me ask Ms. Pallak how the following are related to US foreign policy: 1) In 1971, there was a genocide committed by Pakistani military and their local Muslim collaborators in East Bengal (Bangladesh). Most of the murder and rape victims (of the somewhat exaggeratedly claimed 3 million and 200,000, respectively, by the government of Bangladesh) were Hindus, who were targeted indiscriminately for just being Hindus. I lost one of my best elementary school teachers and two of my aunts; and I know that they were absolutely innocent people who did not even shout a slogan against Pakistan, let alone fighting for anything; they were just trying to live in their ancestral homeland of centuries with no hatred against any kind of people. 2) In 2012, 50 Buddhist homes and 12 Buddhist temples were burned by Muslim mobs in Bangladesh just because one Buddhist youth’s Facebook page was tagged by someone with a picture of the Koran with a shoe on it. 3) In 2013, over a 100 Christian homes were burned by Pakistani Muslim mobs just because a 14 year old girl of that community was accused of burning a page of the Koran. 4) In 2015, Boko Haram kidnapped 276 schoolgirls in Nigeria and they are still being abused as sex-slaves by that group; because, according to that Islamic group, education for women is supposed to be forbidden by their religion. 5) Over the last two years, the Islamic State has decimated the tiny and powerless Yazidi population of Syria, killing men and taking women as sex-slaves.

    There are numerous more examples of unjust, hateful and barbaric acts that are being committed in the world today for Islam, including Muslims against Muslims; and I think the baseline for them is the fact that the so-called moderate Muslims are too much into following and trying to follow Islam blindly. They need to actually improve a lot on using their human brain on Islam and on rejecting a lot of that religion. After all, we all need to realize that no human being was born with a religious brand on him/her, and that it is wrong to even think that we have an obligation to protect/promote what we might have grown up to think as ‘my religion’.