America is about to cheapen one of the most noble and memorable gestures ever made on its behalf.
We’re talking about the miraculous appearance of the Khan family, first at the DNC in Philadelphia, and subsequently on radio/television/streaming newscasts daily, hourly, minute-by-minute.
Tonight will mark the fifth 24 hour period in which we have come to be acquainted with this brave and heretofore unknown couple. Immigrants from the Mid-East (UAE, via Pakistan first), arriving determined to give their (then) two children and themselves the best possible chance at joining a nation they had come to admire and eventually to love.
As children of naturalized citizens, both Capt. Khan and his older brother automatically became US citizens when their parents did. Their younger brother, born here, is also a citizen.
What makes the Khan’s story so moving is that they clearly believed and bought into the goodness of the nation that sheltered them. That belief lead them to speak up without fear when they sensed the nation veering from the ideals in which they believed.
As immigrants, and as Muslims at this juncture in our history, to speak was not without risk. But patriotism and concern for the path our nation seems bent on taking caused them to break into the open and display, regardless of whatever penalty may eventually befall them, the strength and determination that brought them to our shores in the first place. We could not have better citizens than these.
We are now at “a tipping point.” Americans of all persuasions are now acquainted with the Khans, and most are invested emotionally with them. They have both said things we wish we had said. They are united in their memories and in their love for their family, and in their love for the USA.
Over this past weekend, the media battered at the Khan’s door and the Khans, being polite and hospitable to their fellow citizens, allowed nearly each microphone in. Questions were put and answered. The Khans maintained a dignity which is (if you’ll pardon us for saying this) largely unknown among ourselves. Mr. Khan’s persistent understanding and counsel, and his purposefulness, increase daily.
But Americans have a tendency to devour the latest manifestation of anything – humor, sport, games, fear, determination, music. We are likely going to wring the goodness out of the Khan gift and toss it all along the roadside. (When Donald Trump can intimate that perhaps someone in Hillary’s camp wrote the speeches of the Khans, we are already there, and so – alas – are they.) We love recognizing the exceptional. And then we love even more dissecting it, until its uniqueness is patted into the shape of the least remarkable and common blob.
Enough. Let us recognize what the Khans have given us, unasked. Let us forget that the Donald cannot seem to grasp the meaning of sacrifice. Let us be grateful that one American couple had the guts and will and love to share their grief, to share their vision of what could come on the heels of their heart-breaking trek to freedom and value.
Please, let the Khans be remembered for alerting the nation, for waking us all up, for telling a demagogue he neither sacrifices nor spins. That what brought them to these shores will not be undone by a man who is ignorant, lazy, and cruel.
If in later years the Khans have to think, “We tried to tell them,” that’s our bad fortune. We deserve what we get.
The Khans deserve so much more.