Khizr Khan delivered one of the most moving speeches at the Democratic National Convention, captivating viewers with his story about losing his son, a U.S. service member who died in the Iraq War saving his fellow soldiers.
Khan, who is Muslim American, said that if it were up to Donald Trump, he and his family wouldn’t even be allowed in the country.
“Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery? Go look at the graves of the brave patriots who died defending America,” Khan said. “You will see all faiths, genders and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing and no one.”
And now, despite his family’s sacrifice to the country, Khan is facing accusations that so many other high-profile Muslim Americans face: that he is unpatriotic and a terrorist.
The most blatant example of these baseless allegations came Sunday from Roger Stone, a longtime Trump confidant.
Sandy Rios, the director of government affairs at the American Family Association, also questioned why Khan has not denounced the Muslim Brotherhood on her radio show Friday.
“From my perspective, it is the responsibility of Mr. Khan to distinguish himself from Islamists, from the Muslim Brotherhood, whose treatise is to destroy us from within,” Rios said. “If he is a patriotic, loyal, American Muslim, then we want to hear that, that’s great, and we grieve with them over the death of their son. But do not disparage Americans or Donald Trump for having concerns about Muslims in our midst.”
Former Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) also went after Khan for not being humble enough in his speech and tried to dampen Khan’s message about Muslims also being loyal Americans by pointing to two former Muslim members of the U.S. military who conducted attacks against fellow Americans.
Now, let’s be honest Mr. Khan, those of us with knowledge could just as easily bring attention to SGT Hasan Karim Akbar and Major Nidal Hasan, both Muslims serving in the U.S. Army. Just as you celebrated your Muslim son’s sacrifice, there are others who could give testimony to their loss due to those Muslim soldiers — and I use lower case reference to them (soldiers) because they dishonored the oath and were traitors to our Code of Honor. Your son was not, but that had nothing to do with him being a Muslim: he was an American Soldier.
So, Mr. Khan, since you had such an immense stage, what should you have addressed? You should have taken the time to explain how humbled and thankful you are to live in America. You should have mentioned how honored your son was and the pride you felt knowing he was serving your adopted country. You should have explained to America, and the world, what killed your son … the ideology of Islamism, Islamic fascism.
And along those lines, New Hampshire state Rep. Al Baldasaro (R), Trump’s adviser on veterans issues, said Khan should be ashamed of himself for using his son as a “pawn.” Baldasaro has also called for Hillary Clinton to be executed by a firing squad.
These sorts of smears are what many high-profile Muslim Americans face. The two Muslim American members of Congress, Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Andre Carson (D-Ind.), as well as top Clinton aide Huma Abedin, frequently face such accusations.
And the attacks aren’t only targeted at Democrats. Anti-Muslim groups went after Virginia Del. David Ramadan (R) as a “stealth jihadist” and a tool of terrorists when he first ran for his seat in 2011.
“It was hurtful to see because it was not true and these people were making it up for political purposes. It was pathetic and it was bigoted,” said Ramadan ― who received endorsements from top Republican figures ― after his election. “But I have a tough skin, so I dealt with it.”
And in 2011, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) ― who is now a Trump supporter ― stood up for Sohail Mohammed, a Muslim American man he nominated for a seat on the New Jersey Superior Court of Passaic County. Conservative writers called Mohammed “a longtime mouthpiece for radical Islamists” and charged Christie with being “in bed with the enemy.”
Trump and his campaign have continued to attack the Khan family. He implied that the reason that Khan’s mother didn’t speak during the convention was because she wasn’t allowed to.
“If you look at his wife, she was standing there,” Trump told ABC News on Saturday. “She had nothing to say. She probably, maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say. You tell me.” Ghazala Khan responded in a Washington Post op-ed, however, saying the reason she didn’t speak was because she was too overcome by grief.
I cannot walk into a room with pictures of Humayun. For all these years, I haven’t been able to clean the closet where his things are — I had to ask my daughter-in-law to do it. Walking onto the convention stage, with a huge picture of my son behind me, I could hardly control myself. What mother could? Donald Trump has children whom he loves. Does he really need to wonder why I did not speak?
Donald Trump said that maybe I wasn’t allowed to say anything. That is not true. My husband asked me if I wanted to speak, but I told him I could not. My religion teaches me that all human beings are equal in God’s eyes. Husband and wife are part of each other; you should love and respect each other so you can take care of the family.
Since then, the Trump campaign has tried to spin away from the Khans’ message and on to the topic of terrorism.
Jason Miller, a senior adviser to the Trump campaign, also tried this tactic on CNN, but host Brian Stelter called him out for ignoring the main issue.
MILLER: He praised Mr. Khan. But again, Brian, let’s get back to what’s going on here. The fact is that this is about radical Islamic terrorism and what we have to do as a country to make sure that our borders are safe and to make sure that we’re screening people who are coming into this country. That’s the larger debate that’s going on here. [...]
STELTER: You keep mentioning radical Islamic terrorism as if that’s somehow linked to Mr. Khan. Why do you keep responding that way when I mention him?
MILLER: Because that’s the broader debate that we’re having. The broader debate that we’re having is about the screening and the vetting that we’re having for people who are coming into this country ―
STELTER: But that has nothing to do with this family, with this Muslim American family.
Republican leaders, such as House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), have distanced themselves from Trump’s remarks but are still standing by his candidacy.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampantxenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims ― 1.6 billion members of an entire religion ― from entering the U.S.