THE RISE OF KHAN

Mus­lim fa­ther of slain sol­dier only get­ting started

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY SALLY PER­SONS

For many po­lit­i­cal neo­phytes, a ma­jor speak­ing role at a pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nat­ing con­ven­tion might have been the pin­na­cle. For Khizr Khan, the Mus­lim fa­ther of a U.S. Army cap­tain who died serv­ing in Iraq, his speech de­nounc­ing can­di­date Don­ald Trump was the be­gin­ning.

In the nearly two years since, he has be­come a main­stay of Demo­cratic campaign pol­i­tics, has been a star at­trac­tion at civil lib­er­ties groups’ ban­quets and has pub­lished two books.

And he was at the Supreme Court last month when the jus­tices heard oral ar­gu­ments over Pres­i­dent Trump’s travel ban, which crit­ics have de­rided as a Mus­lim ban.

Mr. Khan had filed a brief in the case with a stark per­sonal ap­peal to the court, say­ing Mr. Trump’s pol­icy des­e­crates the mem­ory of his son, U.S. Army Capt. Hu­mayun Khan, who died in Iraq in 2004.

Emerg­ing from the court­room af­ter the jus­tices’ hear­ing, Mr. Khan said he was struck by the way the gov­ern­ment’s at­tor­ney shied away from ac­cu­sa­tions that the pol­icy was anti-Mus­lim and in­stead fo­cused on the lim­its of ex­ec­u­tive power.

Mr. Khan seemed to con­sider that at least a small vic­tory.

“The rest is in the hands of the jus­tices,” he told The Wash­ing­ton Times in an in­ter­view days later. “Hope­fully, we hope that we will have a fa­vor­able de­ci­sion, but it has reaf­firmed, this process has reaf­firmed our faith and our be­lief in our rule of law in Amer­ica’s ju­di­cial sys­tem.”

While he is leav­ing the le­gal bat­tle to the judges, Mr. Khan has be­come more ac­tive in pol­i­tics.

He has been in­vited to speak to the likes of the Hu­man Rights Campaign, the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union and the Anti-Defama­tion League, has been in­vited to join the board of di­rec­tors at Peo­ple for the Amer­i­can Way, and has weighed in on con­gres­sional and gov­er­nor’s races span­ning the coun­try.

Even as he ac­com­mo­dates those re­quests, Mr. Khan is keep­ing his eye fixed firmly on Mr. Trump. He said the scenario has turned out even worse than he imag­ined when he waved his copy of the Con­sti­tu­tion and warned the coun­try in July 2016 not to trust the ma­chin­ery of gov­ern­ment to a novice states­man in Mr. Trump.

“First it was the at­tacks on vul­ner­a­ble com­mu­ni­ties, and sow­ing divi­sion based on race and eth­nic­ity and re­li­gion. Ini­tially, I had thought that this is just po­lit­i­cal rhetoric and it will go away, and the bur­den of of­fice will im­prove the per­son — and will put some re­al­ity in his think­ing and all that — but it has got­ten worse,” Mr. Kahn told The Wash­ing­ton Times in a re­cent tele­phone in­ter­view.

Mr. Khan be­came a weapon in the hands of Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Hil­lary Clin­ton, who used the story of his son in her 2015 re­sponse to Mr. Trump’s orig­i­nal campaign prom­ise of a tem­po­rary ban on Mus­lims en­ter­ing the U.S.

Seven months later, the Clin­ton campaign put Mr. Khan on the stage at the Demo­cratic Na­tional Con­ven­tion, where he waved his pocket copy of the Con­sti­tu­tion and de­manded that Mr. Trump ap­pre­ci­ate the sac­ri­fices of those who died defending it.

“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,” Mr. Khan said in re­marks that quickly went vi­ral.

Mr. Trump fired back by tweet­ing that Mr. Khan “vi­ciously at­tacked me.” The pres­i­dent also ques­tioned why Ghaz­ala Khan, Mr. Khan’s wife, stood with him but didn’t speak at the con­ven­tion.

Some pun­dits at the time said Mr. Trump’s re­sponse could cost him the elec­tion by chasing away wa­ver­ing Repub­li­cans.

Mr. Trump won any­way, ce­ment­ing Mr. Khan as a ma­jor voice of op­po­si­tion.

He en­dorsed can­di­dates in con­gres­sional races in Texas and Colorado, and gov­er­nor’s races in New Jer­sey, Vir­ginia and Idaho, where he is back­ing Paulette Jor­dan, a Demo­crat seek­ing her party’s nom­i­na­tion.

“The im­por­tance of her can­di­dacy extends beyond her plat­form. Paulette would be­come the first Na­tive Amer­i­can gov­er­nor in the coun­try and the first woman gov­er­nor of Idaho,” Mr. Khan said in an en­dorse­ment video re­leased by Peo­ple for the Amer­i­can Way.

Mr. Khan is now work­ing with the Demo­cratic Con­gres­sional Campaign Com­mit­tee as a sur­ro­gate and has said he will wait until af­ter the pri­maries to back the party’s win­ners.

Mr. Khan said he takes the sur­ro­gate role se­ri­ously and has a hands-on role in DCCC mes­sages and emails that use his name.

He said he looks for three ma­jor fac­tors in can­di­dates: lo­cal in­volve­ment, mil­i­tary ser­vice and fresh faces, par­tic­u­larly women.

De­spite his close as­so­ci­a­tion with Democrats, he told The Times that he en­thu­si­as­ti­cally sup­ports Sen. John McCain, Ari­zona Re­pub­li­can, whom he called “our son’s hero.”

“We still have the last book that I sent to Capt. Hu­mayun Khan in Iraq to read was Sen. McCain’s book, ‘Why Courage Mat­ters,’” Mr. Khan said.

Sen. Tim Kaine, a Vir­ginia Demo­crat who served as Mrs. Clin­ton’s vice pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee, said Mr. Khan’s story has touched many Amer­i­cans.

“Hear­ing about the mov­ing ex­pe­ri­ence of Gold Star fam­i­lies like the Khans should deepen our own com­mit­ment to re­spect­ing and sup­port­ing those who have served in uni­form and their fam­i­lies. I’m sure we have not heard the last from Khizr Khan,” Mr. Kaine said.

Mr. Khan is a Pak­istani im­mi­grant who be­came a U.S. cit­i­zen in 1986. He said he lived un­der mar­shal law twice and that is why he is par­tic­u­larly ded­i­cated to the Con­sti­tu­tion’s First Amend­ment.

“My hum­ble ad­vice to all com­mu­ni­ties, in­clud­ing my­self, is ‘Let’s re­main vigilant,’ ” he said. “Let’s re­main united in fa­vor of our Con­sti­tu­tion in fa­vor of our rule of law, and let’s con­tinue to par­tic­i­pate in our elec­tions, our process of elec­tion.”

That is also a rea­son he sup­ports the on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions into Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 elec­tion. He said Rus­sia found a “soft spot” in Mr. Trump, which he hopes the spe­cial coun­sel’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion will ex­pose.

“We have not been so vigilant about our democ­racy, about our sys­tem of gov­ern­ment, about whom we elect and how we elect. We have fallen vic­tim to the pro­pa­ganda of So­vi­ets and of Rus­sia,” he said.

He doesn’t have a fa­vorite for pres­i­dent in 2020. He said his fo­cus is still on the Novem­ber midterm elec­tions.

“I am pos­i­tively op­ti­mistic that we will have a good and electable can­di­date in 2020, but 2020 is too far out,” he said. “I have promised my­self I will take the long­est nap I’m ever tak­ing on the 7th of Novem­ber of 2018.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

VOICE OF OP­PO­SI­TION: Gold Star fa­ther Khizr Khan has been in­vited to speak to mul­ti­ple po­lit­i­cal groups and has weighed in on con­gres­sional and gov­er­nor’s races, but he is keep­ing his eye fixed firmly on Pres­i­dent Trump.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Khizr Khan, the fa­ther of fallen Army Capt. Hu­mayun S.M. Khan, was joined by wife Ghaz­ala dur­ing the fi­nal day of the Demo­cratic Na­tional Con­ven­tion in 2016 be­fore get­ting into an emo­tion­ally charged feud with Re­pub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Don­ald...

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