Saturday, July 30, 2016

Today, This Blog Returns From The Dark To Proudly Wave The (Virtual) Bloody Shirt In Dumbo Faces (Twice)

All right, let's have it quiet in back row, please. This blogger was required to take a day (daybreak until near sunset) on a family matter. That is sufficient explanation for this blog going dark on Friday, July 29, 2016. To remedy this failure in bloggerly duties, today's post features a double helping of Khizr Khan who spoke in the middle session of DemCon2016. Khan spoke extemporaneously (sans text or teleprompters) with his wife, Ghazala Khan at his side. It was a profile in courage in the face of Dumbo chckenhawk cowardice. The Dumbo candidate issued no ignorant tweets about Khan's words, but his Dumbo handmaiden — TG Ann(orexic) referred to the grieving Khans as "angry Muslims." If all of this is (fair & balanced) evidence that the USA is in danger of elevating another idiot who has escaped from his village to the White House, so be it.

Vannevar Bush HyperlinkBracketed numericsDirectory]
[1] The Best Moment Of DemCon 2016 — (Turner Cowles)
[2] The Backstory Of That Shining Moment — (Alexandra "AJ" Willingham)

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Tribute To Captain Humayun Khan & Citizenship Lesson, Combined
By Turner Cowles

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When Captain (US Army) Humayun Khan was ordered to Iraq a dozen years ago, his father wanted to talk to him about being an American Muslim soldier sent to war in a Muslim country.

His son, though, was focused only on the job at hand.

“I asked him, ‘How do you feel about the whole Iraq deal?’ ” recalled Khizr Khan, who became a United States citizen after emigrating from Pakistan in 1980. “He said: ‘Look, that’s not my concern and that’s not my pay grade. My responsibility is to make sure my unit is safe.’ And that’s all he would talk about, and nothing else.”

Captain Khan, 27, died on June 8, 2004, after he told his men to take cover and then tried to stop a suicide bomber outside the gates of his base in Baquba. And on Thursday night, speaking about his son at the Democratic National Convention, Mr. Khan gave a voice to Muslim Americans outraged by the anti-Muslim pronouncements of the Republican nominee for president, Donald J. Trump.

In a speech that electrified the convention and turned Mr. Khan into a social media and cable news sensation, he waved a pocket Constitution and challenged Mr. Trump, “You have sacrificed nothing and no one.”

Mr. Trump’s call for restrictions on Muslims entering the country is acutely personal, Mr. Khan said, in an interview on Friday, adding that he had no plans to campaign for Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, nor had the campaign asked him to.

Mr. Trump’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment on Mr. Khan’s remarks. In December Mr. Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” More recently, he has pledged to suspend immigration from any country “compromised by terrorism.”

If restrictions on Muslim immigration had been in place decades ago, Mr. Khan said, neither he, a lawyer with an advanced degree from Harvard Law School; his wife, Ghazala, who taught Persian at a Pakistani college before raising three boys in the Washington suburbs; their eldest son, Shaharyar, who was a top student at the University of Virginia and a co-founder of a biotechnology company; nor Captain Khan, who posthumously earned the Bronze Star, along with a Purple Heart, for saving the lives of his men, would have been allowed to settle here.

A third son, Omer, who works at his brother’s biotech company, was born in the United States.

“If it was up to Donald Trump, he never would have been in America,” Mr. Khan exclaimed about his deceased son during his speech, his wife by his side. Mr. Khan said that Mr. Trump “wants to build walls and ban us from this country.”

“Let me ask you: Have you even read the United States Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy,” Mr. Khan said, addressing Mr. Trump directly, while pulling a miniature version of the country’s founding document from his coat pocket.

Mr. Khan said he admires both Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama, though Thomas Jefferson is his real hero.

Mr. Khan’s odyssey from lawyer and legal consultant to prime-time DNC speaker began in December, when he got a phone call from a writer for Vocativ, an online publication, who wanted his thoughts on Mr. Trump’s statements about Muslims.

Mr. Khan criticized Mr. Trump’s statements as un-American in an article published by Vocativ. A few weeks later, he got a phone call from a Clinton campaign official, who had seen the article and asked if his comments could be used in a tribute for his son at the convention.

“I said, ‘What a wonderful honor,’ ” he recalled in the interview. “Who am I to say, ‘No’?”

Months later, the campaign asked if he and his wife would come to the convention. “The initial plan was just to go there and stand and talk to the media afterwards,” he said. “Then somebody called and said, ‘Would you like to say a word or two?’ ”

Time was tight and the schedule packed, he was told. The campaign asked whether he needed speechwriting help or any coaching. “I said: ‘I really don’t, I have my thoughts in my head,” he said. “I won’t make it an hourlong speech, just let me say what I want to say. It will be heart-to-heart.”

Nothing from the speech, he said, was the product of the campaign, including his dig at Mr. Trump’s lack of military service. It all flowed pretty easily, because he had been thinking about these things for quite a while, he said.

Mr. Khan expressed great faith in the Constitution and in a political process that bolsters a belief that “an unqualified person will never get to this office.”

“I respect the Republican Party as much as the Democratic Party,” he said. But he added: “I definitely will continue to raise my voice out of concern that the Republican leadership must pay attention to what is taking place.”

Mr. Khan met his wife at Punjab University in Lahore, Pakistan. They moved to Dubai, where their two eldest sons were born, then arrived in Houston, renting a $200-a-month apartment. Eventually they settled outside Washington, where Mr. Khan worked at a mortgage company and law firms.

Captain Khan attended John F. Kennedy High School in Silver Spring, Md. In his free time, he taught disabled children to swim. At the University of Virginia, he joined the ROTC program, and majored in psychology, his father said. He planned to attend law school.

His last conversation with his parents was on Mother’s Day 2004. His mother said: “ ‘I don’t want you to be a hero. I want you to return back to me safely,’ ” Mr. Khan recalled. “Of course I will,” he promised her. “But Mother, you should know I have responsibility for these soldiers, and I cannot leave them unprotected.”

The bomber who took Captain Khan’s life drove an orange-and-white taxi toward the base. Had the captain not warned his men to take cover, “there would have been more casualties,” his brigade commander, Dana Pittard, said in an interview.

Recalling the captain’s potential as he watched Mr. Khan’s speech, Mr. Pittard said, “I had to leave the room, it brought back such a flood of memories.”

After their son’s death, Mr. Khan and his wife, who had moved to Charlottesville to be close to their other sons, had the university’s ROTC cadets over for dinner once a year. Mr. Khan would give them each a pocket-size copy of the Constitution, just like the one he brandished on Thursday, said Tim Leroux, who used to run the ROTC program.

University officials let Mr. Khan read an application essay his son wrote for a residential college. In the essay, Captain Khan wrote of how “liberty requires vigilance and sacrifice” and that those who are “beneficiaries of liberty must always bear this in mind, and keep it safe from attacks.”

“That summed up his later life,” Mr. Khan said. Ω

[Turner Cowles is a video journalist at The New York Times. Before that he a video producer for Money magazine. Cowles received a BA (writing & media) from Florida State University as well as an MS (journalism) from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

Additional reporting was supplied by Niraj Chokshi, Stephanie Saul, Thomas Kaplan and Ashley Parker.]

Copyright © 2016 The New York Times Company

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Backstory: A Complex Portrait Of Patriotism
By Alexandra "AJ" Willingham

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Humayun Khan knew he was walking toward danger. He must have known.

The 27-year-old Army Captain had ordered those around him to take cover as soon as he saw a taxi barrel through the gates of his base in Baquba, Iraq. He took 10 steps toward it when it exploded.

Khan isn't the only Muslim-American to give his life in the service of his country. But in this rancorous political climate, where Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is calling for a ban on Muslims, his story has taken on a different sort of significance.

And when his parents strode on to the stage at the DNC, their grief still writ large on their faces 12 years later, it was a meeting of identities as potent as the symbol on the army captain's military grave.

It signaled that patriotism and Islam are not mutually exclusive, that sacrifice and grief have no religion, and that the similarities that the Khans share with so many American families are far more meaningful than their differences.

American Opportunities

Humayun Khan was born in the United Arab Emirates to Pakistani parents. His family moved to America 36 years ago.

"Like many immigrants, we came to this country empty-handed. We believed in American democracy; that with hard work and goodness of this country, we could share in and contribute to its blessings," the father, Khizr Khan, said during his speech Thursday night.

"We are blessed to raise our three sons in a nation where they were free to be themselves and follow their dreams."

The family settled in Maryland, where the boys seemed to have a knack for academics.

Khan enrolled in the ROTC program at the University of Virginia after completing high school. He graduated with a degree in psychology

He aspired to be a military lawyer, and wanted a career advocating for veterans. He decided to join the Army first to pay for law school.

Khizr Khan, and the moment American Muslims have been waiting for.

American Sacrifice

On the day he died, Khan was overseeing soldiers as they conducted routine vehicle inspections. It was June 8, 2004 - the height of the insurgency when attacks on American forces were constant.

He'd last talked to his mother a month earlier, on Mother's Day.

"Whenever I talked to him, I started to cry," his mother, Ghazala, told the Washington Post at the time. "He always said to me, 'Don't worry. I'm safe.' "

Khan was an ordnance officer with the 201st Forward Support Battalion, 1st Infantry Division. His unit made sure the camp stayed secure and things ran smoothly.

While serving, he also participated in a US Army program that helped Iraqi citizens earn money to support themselves.

"He was always a peacemaker," his father told the Post. "[He was] always seeing an opportunity to give. He was always to the Iraqis, 'We're here not to hurt you but to help you.'"

When the taxi drove through the gates, Khan told the soldiers to take cover. He walked toward it, signaling for it to stop.

The car, with 200 pounds of explosives, blew up, killing him.

Khan's actions saved the lives of several others. For that, he was awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.

"He died selflessly and courageously, tackling the enemy head on," his commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Dan Mitchell, wrote in a letter read at his funeral. "We will not forget him and the noble ideas he stood for."

He was given full military honors and buried at Arlington National Cemetery, where the marble headstone bears the star and crescent of his faith He was 27.

American Perspective

At least 6,024 Muslims have served in the U.S. Armed Forces since the September 11 terror attacks, and at least 14 have died. Those figures are from a Committee on Homeland Security report [PDF] issued in 2011.

But those numbers are only for service members who self-identified as Muslims. The Pentagon does not track recruits by faith. They only ask service members to declare their faith on their records so that in case of death, the department can provide the correct religious chaplain.

The truth about Muslims in America

American Family

The Democratic National Convention stage was an unexpected destination for Khan's parents, one they could not have foreseen.

Khizr Khan spoke briefly of his son, but focused most of his words on what it meant to be a Muslim American and the discontent he felt with Donald Trump's plans for people like him.

At one point, he reached into his breast pocket and pulled out a small copy of the United States Constitution. A Muslim immigrant, holding aloft one of the country's most important documents and urging his fellow citizens, and his leaders, to consider its words.

"In this document, look for the words 'liberty' and 'equal protection of law,'" he said. Specifically addressing Trump, he asked, "Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery? Go look at the graves of brave patriots who died defending the United States of America."

"You have sacrificed nothing and no one."

His gesture set off a seismic reaction. Supporters typed out Khan's words and superimposed them over images of him holding up that little blue book. Some shared pictures of their own copies of the Constitution.

The elder Khan is a Harvard-educated lawyer who now lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, and works as a legal consultant. Journalist Wajat Ali reported the worn Constitution Khizr Khan produced, a totem of true American-ness, was far from a prop.

He's carried it with him for years. Ω

[Alexandra "AJ" Willingham is a writer at CNN (Cable News Network). She began her career at CNN (and some of its affiliates) as a video journalist in 2009. She received a BA (writing/rhetoric from Syracuse University.]

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