Given that Hillary Clinton’s Senate vote, on October 11, 2002, to authorize the invasion of Iraq might have been what cost her the Democratic nomination for the presidency in 2008, it was remarkable that the most powerful speech on her behalf on Thursday night in Philadelphia came from the father of an American soldier who was killed in that war.
However, the words of Khizr Khan — a Pakistani Muslim immigrant, whose son, Capt. Humayun S.M. Khan, was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart for saving the lives of fellow soldiers in Baquba, Iraq, in 2004 — were not about the wisdom or morality or politics of the war. They were about how his son’s love of country, and his family’s sacrifice, exposed the anti-Muslim bigotry behind Donald Trump’s plan to bar followers of that faith from becoming Americans.
“Hillary Clinton was right when she called my son the best of America,” Khan said, standing beside his wife, Ghazala. “If it was up to Donald Trump, he never would have been in America.”
In a powerful 90 seconds at the heart of his speech, Khan then addressed the Republican candidate directly, with quiet dignity: “Donald Trump, you are asking Americans to trust you with their future. Let me ask you: Have you even read the United States Constitution?” Reaching slowly into his jacket, Khan then removed a small booklet and held it aloft, saying, “I will gladly lend you my copy.”
“In this document, look for the words ‘liberty’ and ‘equal protection of law,’” he continued. “Have you ever been to Arlington cemetery? Go look at the graves of brave patriots who died defending the United States of America. You will see all faiths, genders, and ethnicities.”
“You have sacrificed nothing, and no one,” he added. “We cannot solve our problems by building walls.”
Khan’s speech was met with tears and applause in the hall and electrified social networks — earning praise even from prominent conservatives, like Rich Galen, a former press secretary for Newt Gingrich who worked for the Bush administration’s Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, John Podhoretz, the editor of Commentary, and John Weaver, a campaign strategist for Gov. John Kasich.