Your flag flyin’ over the courthouse

Means certain things are set in stone

Who we are, what we’ll do and what we won’t

-Bruce Springsteen, “Long Walk Home”


Perhaps you have heard the Democratic Convention speech by Khizr Khan, the American Muslim whose Army captain son died a hero in Iraq and who is causing Donald Trump to cause himself so much trouble.

If you haven’t, you have to.

The speech and the subsequent media battle with our Bigot in Chief says a lot about the best and worst of who we are as a nation. It’s illuminating, moving stuff that left me both proud and ashamed.

First, the speech. In a brief introductory video, Hillary Clinton provides a bit of useful background on the death of Army Capt. Humayan Khan at the hands of suicidal terrorists. But Khzir khan’s six minute address is the show stopper. He emphasizes his family’s patriotism as Muslim Americans. He asks whether Trump has read the Constitution, offering the Donald a copy.

And Khan takes on Trump head on, asking: “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.”

This Politico piece offers some insights on how the speech came to be, along with the nugget that Google searches about registering to vote spiked right after Khan finished.

The story did not end there, though.


In a subsequent ABC interview, and in his usual inimitable manner, Trump questioned why Khizr’s wife Ghazala had stood silently at the podium during her husband’s speech: “She had nothing to say. She probably, maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say. You tell me.” He went on to explain the sacrifices he’d made for America by working very hard, creating lots of jobs, building big structures and enjoying great success.

The back-and forth between Trump and the Khans continues. One noteworthy chapter took the form of the Khans’ tearful, post-Convention MSNBC interview, largely about their son but also about Trump.

Another chapter was a Washington Post op-ed by Ghazala, explaining her grief-induced silence during her husband’s speech. Fittingly, she closes the piece with the following: “Donald Trump said he has made a lot of sacrifices. He doesn’t know what the word sacrifice means.”

And so, the American hero is not just the late Capt. Humayan Khan. It is his father – as well as his mother – for standing up even as Donald Trump keeps finding new ways of stooping yet lower.



Based in Oakland, California, Stephen Golub writes, consults and teaches about international development, with a particular focus on justice, democracy, human rights and governance issues. Currently teaching part-time at Central European University in Budapest and previously at the University of California at Berkeley, he has worked in over 40 countries and with such organizations as Amnesty International, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Ford and Open Society Foundations, the U.K. Department for International Development, the U.N. Development Program and the World Bank

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