One of the finest and most damning addresses of the Democratic National Convention was delivered on Thursday night by one of the event’s lowest profile speakers. Khizr Khan addressed the Philadelphia crowd to recount the story of his son Humayun Khan, a Muslim American soldier who was killed while serving in Iraq in 2004.
Khizr Khan painted a portrait of heroism, patriotism, bravery, and sacrifice—one that stood in stark contrast to the invidious message Donald Trump has issued to describe American Muslims and the unconstitutional religious test he has offered to bar Muslim immigrants from entering this country. Quite simply, Khan put Donald Trump to shame.
“Our son Humayun had dreams … of being a military lawyer, but he put those dreams aside the day he sacrificed his life to save the lives of his fellow soldiers,” Khan told the convention. “Hillary Clinton was right when she called my son ‘the best of America.’ If it was up to Donald Trump, he never would have been in America.”
Humayun Khan was born in the United Arab Emirates and immigrated to the U.S. as a small child, growing up in Maryland and attending college at the University of Virginia. He was a 27-year-old Army captain when he was inspecting the gates of his camp in Baquba, Iraq, and a speeding vehicle approached. Khan told his fellow soldiers to hit the ground and he signaled at the vehicle to stop. He took 10 steps toward the vehicle, which had in it two suicide bombers and a large amount of explosives. The car exploded, injuring 10 of his fellow soldiers and killing Khan. The captain was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart, and Khizr Khan believes his son’s actions saved the lives of many of his fellow soldiers.
“We still wonder what made him take those 10 steps,” Khan’s father has said in the past to the web site Vocativ. “Maybe that’s the point where all the values, all the service to country, all the things he learned in this country kicked in. It was those values that made him take those 10 steps. Those 10 steps told us we did not make [a] mistake in moving to this country.”
In the convention hall this message was pointed sharply at Trump, who has called for a full ban on Muslim immigrants (he recently said the ban would be based on specific territories, but his campaign has said his position hasn’t changed). After the Orlando attack, Trump also accused Muslim Americans broadly of refusing to expose terrorists in their midst.
Khan’s message to Trump was more damning than anything delivered by any previous speaker at the DNC thus far.
“Donald Trump, you are asking Americans to trust you with their future. Let me ask you: Have you even read the United States Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy,” Khan said, pulling out a pocket Constitution as the crowd erupted in applause.
“In this document, look for the words liberty and equal protection of law. Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery? Go look at the graves of brave patriots who died defending [the] United States of America. You’ll see, all faiths, genders, and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing and no one.”
It was this moment that should make every Republican politician who opposes that Muslim ban and still supports Donald Trump to feel a sharp, stabbing sense of shame.