Gold Star father and constitutional rights advocate Khizr Khan spoke at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and Politics on Wednesday evening about immigration, civil rights, Islamophobia and the future of the United States.
The son of Khan and his wife, Ghazala, U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan, was a Muslim-American war hero who was killed in Iraq in 2004.
Captain Khan’s father gained instant fame last summer due to his fiery speech at the Democratic National Convention.
Khan used his hour-long speech at Harvard to encourage attendees to uphold ethics within a society that is currently “without moral compass”, and gave his views on President Trump’s travel ban. The forum began and ended with a standing ovation.
“There is no distinction between ‘lies’ and ‘untruths,’ and honorable military officers are misleading my country, misleading the administration. I need not name names,” Khan said. “I see among you the leaders of this mankind, the leaders of the world, sitting here. Always remember in any mission, any step that you take, if one thing you have, you will never fail, and that is moral compass. Always, always, it was that that moved us to this stage, it is that that keeps us moving. And we will continue.”
Khan also spoke passionately about equality:
“We will continue with this message that the tradition of this country is pluralism. The tradition of this country is equal dignity, equal protection of law. No one will deter us. We will not be pushed back. We will continue to speak.”
At the D.N.C., Khan criticized Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim stance and questioned whether the now-president had ever read the Constitution.
The U.S. Constitution was a large topic of conversation at the Khan Harvard forum as well.
Intisar Rabb, a professor of law at Harvard Law School and the director of the Islamic Legal Studies Program, spoke at the forum as well and asked Khan several questions.
“It’s powerful to focus on and encourage us to not only read the Constitution, but to live its values,” Rabb said. “What is your favorite clause or the one part of the Constitution that you might point someone to? Particularly if they’re more interested in 140 characters or less?” she asked, alluding to President Trump, provoking laughter from the crowd.
“I fell in love with the Constitution of the United States not recently — long ago. I came from Pakistan. We had lived in my school days under three martial laws. Three military dictators have confiscated our rights, our civil rights,” Khan replied. “I took a course in undergrad school called constitution of the world. On top of all the materials were the Constitution of the United States. On top of all of the material was the Declaration of Independence.”
As he did famously in his D.N.C. speech, Khan pulled out his personal, pocket-sized copy of the Constitution to answer the question in its entirety. The action lead to the crowd’s applause.
“You’ll have to forgive me if I lose my composure because I cannot finish Section One of the Fourteenth Amendment. It is so relevant today. It is so relevant applied to what my nation faces, what men and women — what the citizen of this country — faces today because of the moral compass-less White House. That is what is missing in the White House. There is no moral compass. And look what our forefathers have said, drafted, and we have practiced for 240 years. And we shall continue to practice, because we continue to prevail. There is much more good in this country than others,” Khan said.
Khan then read aloud Section One of the Fourteenth Amendment, which reads:
“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
He did not lose his composure reciting it.
Khan emphasized how fortunate American citizens are to enjoy the protections of the Constitution because many countries don’t possess them.
“Most of the world does not have these privileges and these dignities. Most of the world doesn’t. We are a beacon of hope. There are many, many nations and countries, as you all know, that are studying the Constitution of the United States, the democracy of the United States, so that they can dignify their people, so that they can dignify their citizens with these rights that we were blessed and that we have had for 240 years,” Khan said.
Khan’s memoir will be published this fall.
You can watch the Khan forum in full below:
Filed under: BREAKING NEWS, CAMPUS BEAT, News Tagged: Chelsie Arnold, Constitution, constitutional rights, Donald Trump, Eastern New Mexico University, Fourteenth Amendment, Gold Star families, Harvard, Harvard University Kennedy School, Khizr Khan