An immigrant’s defining speech

An Muslim-American’s speech highlighted the differences between the two US parties

Khizr Khan, father of fallen US Army Captain Humayun Khan, offered to lend Donald Trump his copy of the constitution. J Scott Applewhite / AP
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Now that the Republican and Democrat conventions are over, many are citing a Muslim immigrant’s speech to the latter as the one that most clearly articulated the differences between the parties. Pakistani-American Khizr Khan made a powerful and moving eulogy for his son, Humayun, a United States Army captain who died in Iraq in 2004 while defending his squad from a car-bomb attack.

Mr Khan gained one of the convention’s most sustained cheers when he rhetorically asked Donald Trump if he had ever read the US constitution, then pulled a copy of it from his pocket. “I will gladly lend you my copy,” he said. “In this document, look for the words ‘liberty’ and ‘equal protection of law’.” Mr Trump was, of course, not present. He was in Iowa, complaining about how the United States was not allowed to waterboard terrorists.

Many of the convention’s speeches had focused on the dangers of Mr Trump’s inflammatory speeches about Muslims and other minorities but Mr Khan’s story, leavened by loss, brought the point home in a way that the others did not. If Mr Trump is voted into the White House and turns his divisive speeches into official policies, it is families with similar aspirations to the Khans who will suffer.

The Khans left Pakistan for Dubai, where Humayun and another son were born, but found a permanent home in the United States. As he put it, his family are “patriotic American Muslims with undivided loyalty to our country”, but families like his would be excluded from the US under a Trump presidency.

The end of the conventions marked 100 days until voters decide who should occupy the White House for the next four years and – equally importantly – about which party will dominate the two houses of Congress. As James Zogby and Hussein Ibish note on these pages today, there has rarely been a US election where the differences between the parties are so distinct and open. In the next three months of campaigning, those distinctions are likely to become even more obvious.

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