Ghazala Khan, the mother of Gold Star Army Capt. Humayun Khan, became the center of a national controversy in July when Donald Trump suggested that, because she was Muslim, she wasn’t allowed to speak alongside her husband at the Democratic National Convention. (Which, as Ezra Klein wrote at the time, was “bullshit.”)
Khan and her husband Khizr have endured intense stereotyping and animosity as the result of their place in the spotlight during a contentious campaign — not to mention Trump insisting that their son, who died in Iraq in 2004, would still be alive today if Trump were president at the time.
But Khan, speaking on MSNBC tonight, still found it within herself to deliver a moving message about why she loves America, highlighting the love and respect she was given without any concern for where she came from or what she believed.
“I love to be in America,” she said, “because when I came here for the first time, I had such nice neighbors, such nice people. They greeted me with respect. They didn’t ask me who I am, if I’m Muslim or any other religion. They didn’t ask me from where I came. They just saw me as I am.”
Her comments are a poignant reminder that today’s widespread Islamophobia and xenophobia are the products of recent, post-9/11 political tactics, rather than reflecting the true instincts of most Americans. And they stand in stark contrast to the anti-Muslim rhetoric of Trump and many of his supporters during this election season.
Khan’s use of her platform to remind us of our best selves, in the face of so much ugliness, is particularly inspiring — and an example that many others with power to shape the conversation about Muslims in America could stand to follow.