Sunday, July 31, 2016
Khzir Khan and the Testimony of American Muslim Parents
(I know it's Sunday...rest assured, my sermon manuscript will be coming later just like usual.)
In two weeks of political conventions that were designed--manufactured, really--to evoke emotion, only one speech genuinely did, and it did so to the point of nearly moving me to tears. Khzir and Ghazala Khan, parents of Captain Humayun Khan, who was KIA in the Iraq war, spoke at the Democratic National Convention regarding Donald Trump's thoroughly misguided and terribly vindictive plan to ban all Muslims--or, depending on who you ask, all peoples from Muslim countries--from entering the United States, on top of additional law enforcement surveillance of American mosques.
The Khans spoke to me because their story is my great-grandparents' story--immigrating here for a better life after having seen war and violence, becoming American, seeing their son join the American armed forces, and then fight and die abroad. It felt personal. Because it was.
In response to the Khans, Donald Trump insinuated that Ghazala Khan did not speak at the DNC because as a Muslim woman, she had not been allowed to. She forcefully responded to that slander, saying she knew that if she did speak, she would not be able to keep her composure.
There is a family story that after my great-uncle Albert was KIA in World War II, his father, my great-granddad Krikor did not really smile again until his granddaughter, my mom, was born nine years later. If Ghazala Khan, or any Gold Star parent, says they would not be able to speak about their kid while keeping their composure, I believe it. It is also why I said on my Facebook page that allyship in the war on terror cannot be seen as the sum total of Islam's contributions to civilization (looking right at you, Rep. Steve King). Just in the war on terror alone, American Muslims have contributed their children, their lives, their families. Their allyship has been total. And this is *on top* of everything else they do, and have done, in their livelihoods, spare time, and religious work to make the world a better place.
I am including here the video of Khzir Khan's original speech, the couples' subsequent television interviews, and a link to Ghazala's op-ed in today's Washington Post, which you can find here, so that you can hear from these parents in their own words, not the words of the media, and take their words to heart.
My own words in today's sermon, tiny though they may be in comparison to these parents' testimonies, will come later today.
July 31, 2016