While the Democratic National Convention was chock full of powerful speeches — Michelle Obama’s address, Sarah Silverman calling Bernie dead-enders “ridiculous,” Joe Biden going full Joe Biden, President Obama delivering the speech of his life — the moment that will stand out for years to come will be Khizr Khan’s address. Going on stage with no notes or teleprompter, the Muslim father of slain war hero Humayan Khan tore into GOP nominee Donald Trump. He said the real estate mogul had “sacrificed nothing’ for this country, and offered up his personal copy of the Constitution for Trump to read.
All in all, this was a moment that American Muslims had been waiting for since Trump’s ascendance in the national political scene, which has come largely by demonizing the Muslim community. Outside of the most die hard of Trumpkins — I’m looking at you, Ann Coulter — nobody could watch that speech without coming away deeply moved.
Friday night, Khan and his wife, Ghazala, appeared on MSNBC’s The Last Word to speak with host Lawrence O’Donnell. During the interview, Mrs. Khan revealed that she didn’t speak on stage Thursday night because she is not good at public speaking and she gets far too emotional when talking about her son. (This was borne out in the interview.) This was brought up by O’Donnell to address criticisms and concerns brought up by conservatives that Ghazala was playing the stereotypical Muslim role of subservient wife.
The big takeaway from the segment was Khizr Khan calling on Republican leaders to stand up to Trump’s bigotry and hatred on pure moral grounds. Specifically, Khan appealed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who he referred to as patriots, to “repudiate Trump” before it is too late.
“Isn’t it time to repudiate Trump?…You are about to sink the ship of the patriot Republicans. If your candidate wins and he governs the way he has campaigned, my country, this country, will have constitutional crises [like] never before.
There is so much at stake, and I appeal to both of these leaders: this is the time. There comes a time in the history of a nation where an ethical, moral stand has to be taken regardless of the political costs. The only reason they’re not repudiating his behavior, his threat to our democracy, our decency, our foundation, is just because of political consequences.”
It was noted by MSNBC’s Benjy Sarlin that while Khan was pushing for Republicans to stem the tide of hatred, Trump was repeating his debunked claim that thousands of Muslims in New Jersey publicly celebrated on 9/11.
For context: Trump TODAY repeated a phony story accusing thousands of Muslim Americans of publicly celebrating 9/11 https://t.co/KBloTnnmKm
— Benjy Sarlin (@BenjySarlin) July 30, 2016
Across the political spectrum, Khan’s speech has had a pretty significant impact. Joe Scarborough, who is constantly dancing back and forth on his support of Trump, said it was “an act of proud American patriotism.”
— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) July 30, 2016
Business Insider’s Josh Barro wrote that the speech made him cry, and then feel anger at the Republicans who have sat idly by and allowed Trump to rise politically.
I watched this moment live and was awed by it. I watched it again Friday morning, and I cried.
I am angry at Donald Trump, and I am angry at the people who voted for him. But most of all I am angry at the senior Republicans who are standing by and acting as if this is fine — endorsing him in the belief that he will lose but that standing together will stem the loss of congressional seats, or endorsing him in the hope that he will grow up if he wins.
I genuinely thought mainstream Republican leaders knew better, that they understood there are matters more important than fiscal policy, and that if a candidate were terrible enough, they would reach a point at which they realized their responsibilities to their country exceeded those to their political party.
I did not expect people like House Speaker Paul Ryan to behave so indecently as to line up behind this hateful man, who does not even agree with them on public policy. I was naive, and I am sad, because it means we have a less durable democracy than I thought.
One keeps looking on in abject horror at the Rise of Trump, wondering when the American people will wake up and stop this descent into madness. Perhaps Khizr Khan will be that person who provides that slap in the face to the American conscience.
Below is video of the segment, courtesy of MSNBC: