How much do the Democrats actually care about the late Captain Humayun Khan?
Watching Khizr Khan’s impassioned speech last week at the Democratic National Convention as he talked about his U.S. soldier son Humayun’s ultimate sacrifice for his country left me with several conflicting feelings.
On one hand, I was sincerely proud of an America that embraces its Muslim citizens and gives them a voice and a warm welcome on such an important national stage. My own immigrant Pakistani-American family acutely feels the fear of Islamophobia in this angry xenophobic political climate, so I was grateful that Americans could finally see their fellow Muslim Americans as loyal patriotic citizens of our beloved country. I also admired Mr. Khan’s eloquent and righteous challenge to Donald Trump’s racist demagoguery, his self-aggrandizing crass demeanor, and his contempt for the U.S Constitution with its protections of religious freedom and equal treatment under the law. The Wrath of Khan indeed!
On the other hand, the thing felt contrived and calculated. The cynic in my mind had the uneasy feeling that Mr. Khan was being used as a prop against Trump, as a means of proving how virtuous and inclusive the Democrats are in striking contrast to the fear-mongering and race/religion-baiting from Trump and the Republicans. Indeed, it was telling that Mr. Khan never questioned why his son was sent to Iraq to die in the first place. Would he be allowed to question the necessity of the Iraq War, to question the lies and delusions of “spreading democracy” by force that sent thousands of American soldiers, including his son, to their death and utterly destroyed the nation and people of Iraq? Would he be allowed to question Hillary Clinton’s enthusiastic support of the war until it became politically expedient to voice her opposition to it? Or to question her continued hawkish militarism in Libya, Syria, and against Russia and Iran? Would the Democrats have propped up the parents of a dead white, black, Latino, or Asian soldier in the same way? I doubt it. Propping up one of those soldiers’ parents would not have served any political purpose.
I wish I weren’t that cynical. But when I see the anti-war Sanders campaign being forcefully silenced by the Democratic party stalwarts, when any mention of justice for the Palestinians or opposition to drone warfare is removed from the party platform, when there is no questioning of ever-metastasizing American military adventurism (often justified under the guise of humanitarianism) that is draining our treasury, then I can’t help but think that the Democrats only like Muslim-Americans who tow the party line. In their world, it would be distasteful if not dangerous for Muslim-Americans to voice opposition to the neoconservative foreign policy agenda that Hillary Clinton and the corporate Democrats have fully embraced.
How much do Democrats care about the late Captain Humayun Khan? Enough to welcome him into the American family and all its institutions but not enough to stop the war machine that took his life.