On Tuesday evening during an interview on CNN, Khizr Khan condemned President Trump's remarks about white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, VA. Khan is a resident of Charlottesville, and witnessed the violence and hate speech first-hand. But he is also the father of a fallen U.S. soldier, and what pained him the most about the "Unite The Right" rally was that the U.S. flag, which his son gave his life to defend, was being displayed right next to symbols of hate.
We live in one of the most beautiful, wonderful, peaceful cities of United States ... but I witnessed something that I could not imagine. There was a Nazi flag carried by one person and flag of United States carried by another person in the same group. I thought of thousands of my sons and daughters that died defending that flag.
Khan's son, Humayun Khan, was a U.S. army captain in Iraq who died while saving the lives of his fellow soldiers in 2004. The Pakistani American family, which immigrated to the United States in 1980, undoubtedly represents a form of the American Dream: the idea that anyone can escape persecution to find equality and honor in America.
While the younger Khan died to defend the values that America is intended to represent — and the freedom that his father left the Middle East to find — his father was ultimately confronted with the limitations of that dream, and the realization that many in this country will never fully accept those who are not white.
What's more, Khan has had to grapple with the fact that the president of the United States is defending the very people who attack the values that the American flag represents. On Tuesday, President Trump held an explosive press conference in which he declined to call the attack on Charlottesville terrorism, and refused to blame the violence on white supremacists.
“I think there is blame on both sides,” Trump said. “You had a group on one side that was bad. You had a group on the other side that was also very violent. Nobody wants to say that. I’ll say it right now.”
Ultimately, regardless of what the president has to say (or what he refuses to say), Khan and his family represent what America is meant to stand for: a country of opportunity and equality, regardless of one's skin color or background. While the president may defend groups who seek to attack that equality, it's clear that Khan will continue to stand up for it, and remind the country of those, like his son, who have given their lives to protect it.