Khizr Khan has a gift for Donald Trump.
During the Democratic National Convention last night, the Maryland resident reached into his coat, pulled out a slim volume and addressed the Republican nominee directly. “Donald Trump, you’re asking Americans to trust you with their future,” he said. “Let me ask you, have you even read the United States Constitution? “I will gladly lend you my copy,” he added. “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.”
If only Donald Trump respected the Constitution as much as Khzir Khan does.
Khan also memorialized his son Captain Humayun Khan, who died in Iraq in 2004. According to The New York Times, the younger Khan urged fellow soldiers to avoid a “suspicious vehicle” when it entered their compound. Khan approached it alone, and it exploded, killing him. The U.S. Army posthumously awarded him the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart for his sacrificial courage. “Hillary Clinton was right when she called my son ‘the best of America,” his father said last night. “If it was up to Donald Trump, he never would have been in America.”
Clinton also briefly referenced Trump’s proposal to ban immigration from majority-Muslim nations in her keynote speech.
“We will not ban a religion. We will work with all Americans and our allies to fight and defeat terrorism,” she said.
The Democrats’ decision to grant Khan a primetime speaking slot is a clear jab at the Trump campaign. Anti-Muslim rhetoric has underpinned Trump’s platform almost since he entered the race, and he has repeatedly promised to ban Muslim immigration to America. That proposal would almost certainly violate the First Amendment, but Trump has doubled down.
Earlier this month, he announced that he intends to expand the ban to target immigrants from any country “compromised by terrorism.” Under this broad definition, immigrants from France, Germany and the United Kingdom could be banned from entering the country.
“I'm looking now at territory. People were so upset when I used the word Muslim. Oh, you can't use the word Muslim. Remember this. And I'm OK with that, because I'm talking territory instead of Muslim,” Trump told Chuck Todd on CNN’s “Meet the Press.”
But this isn’t really a pivot. It’s window-dressing for the anti-Muslim bigotry he’s now peddled for the better part of a year.
There’s no evidence that Muslim immigrants represent some sort of fifth column. Muslims have lived in this country for centuries. They arrived before the United States even existed as a sovereign state; most were African slaves. Since then, they’ve fought for civil rights, become captains of industry and served with honor in every branch of the armed services. It’s possible to acknowledge this without downplaying real threats to our national security; the positions are not mutually exclusive.
Trump probably won’t change his policies because of Khan and the story of his son’s final sacrifice. But he should, and he should accept Khan’s pocket Constitution, too. He should read it and learn that the First Amendment’s protections apply to everyone – even the ever-growing ranks of people Trump doesn’t like. PS: The FOR Act, introduced this May, would prohibit the U.S. government for applying a religious litmus test to immigration policy. We support it, and here's why.