11/20/2008 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Powell Honors Fallen Muslim American Soldier

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

Colin Powell ended his endorsement of Obama by referring to the death of a Muslim soldier, Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan of Manahawkin, N.J., who was killed in Iraq on Aug. 6, 2007, and whose remains were buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

The Lede at NYT has more details.

He and three other soldiers, including a corporal from Washington Heights, were killed in Baquba after a bomb detonated while they were checking abandoned houses for explosives. They served in the Stryker Brigade combat team of the Army's 2nd Infantry Division, based in Ft. Lewis, Washington.

Mr. Khan graduated from Southern Regional High School in Manahawkin in 2005, and enlisted in the Army a few months later, spurred by his memories of the 9/11 terror attacks. "His Muslim faith did not make him not want to go. It never stopped him," his father, Feroze Khan, told the Gannett News Service in a story printed shortly after his death. "He looked at it that he's American and he has a job to do."

Powell framed the entire "Obama is a Muslim" debate in striking terms with his reference to this fallen American soldier.

"Is there something wrong with being Muslim in America? No, that's not America," he said.

"He was 14 years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he could go serve his country, and he gave his life," Mr. Powell said. "Now, we have got to stop polarizing ourselves in this way."

The highly charged rhetoric used by McCain and Palin to tie Obama to terrorism and Islam is once again an affront to all Muslim Americans. We saw this type of fear and backlash just after 9/11. We see it also in the McCarthy-like invocations of Michele Bachmann. I challenge Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin to tell this grieving mother that her son is anti-American because of his faith.

The answer to who is evil is NEVER as neat, clean, and easy as a label. Thank you, Colin Powell, for reminding America that those who serve in our military represent the awesome diversity of faithful and patriotic Americans.

Thank you, Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, for your service and your ultimate sacrifice. I am humbled to honor you and your fallen comrades.

Kareem's Legacy page.