King Daniel Into Darkness wrote:
"Abrams re-enacts 9/11 in Star Trek movie!"
The strangest part about this comment is that he pretty much did. Khan crashed his spaceship into San Francisco, killing who knows how many people (which was just brushed aside really), yet the movie was dedicated to 9/11 vets? That particular part strikes me as somewhat odd already, and then you say that all it takes is for Khan to be brown to make that actually controversial? Ok...
It's obviously a non-subtle 9-11/War on Terror/drone strike allegory, but there's a big difference between having similar but different events happen to make a point and directly implicating a brown-skinned man who ruled the Middle East and South Asia for the fictional crime. The backlash against that would have been huge. Making it a genetically engineered pasty white British guy is not going to insult any minorities by showing them still being depicted as terrorists even 300 years in the future.
Not to mention the fallout from emphasizing that the perpetrator is a Sikh given the amount of harassment and attacks Sikhs have had to endure post-9/11 by ignorant assholes who think they're Muslims (not that it would be right to harass or attack Muslims either). People would be (rightfully) upset about it, and the outrage would far exceed any of this nonsense about whitewashing a character that was already played by a white man of European descent once before. It's a no-win situation.
Since the decision had already been made to go with a terrorism and responding out of fear and revenge allegory, emphasizing a brown-skinned Khan, the region he dominated, and his religious background would become a liability. Now, they could have just chosen not to go with Khan (since the rogue Starfleet operative story predated the decision to use Khan), but then you have the problem of the movie not having a hook to attract audiences in the form of Trek's most famous established villain. Could they have done it and still made a blockbuster? Possibly. But it's a greater risk, and studios don't like to take big risks when they're investing hundreds of millions of dollars.
On a separate note, people keep saying that they just "brushed aside" the destruction in San Francisco, but I don't understand what they're looking for here. Did they want them to tack on an extra half an hour to deal solely with the aftermath of the crash? Can't people pretty much extrapolate what will happen for themselves without having it explicitly spelled out? Lots of searching through rubble, lots of funerals and memorials, and then the rebuilding process begins. They showed a memorial to the fallen, they made it a poignant moment by using actual soldiers deployed overseas post-9/11, they made a 9/11 vets dedication, and the story itself was a 9/11/War on Terror allegory. What else should they have done?
PS: There was just an earthquake here as I was typing this up.