Civil discourse: Khizr Khan takes the stage at the Miller Center

Khizr Khan spoke at the Miller Center last week about backlash he and his wife received after the Democratic National Convention. Sanjay Suchak/UVA Communications Khizr Khan spoke at the Miller Center last week about backlash he and his wife received after the Democratic National Convention. Sanjay Suchak/UVA Communications

Khizr Khan and his wife, Ghazala, emerged onto the political stage during the Democratic National Convention in July when Khizr told the story of their son, Captain Humayun Khan, a University of Virginia graduate, who served in the United States Army and was killed in a suicide attack in Iraq on June 8, 2004.

Many of Khan’s emotional quotes from the convention quickly spread throughout the nation, including direct statements to Donald Trump such as, “Let me ask you, have you even read the United States Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy,” and “You have sacrificed nothing and no one.”

On November 1, Khan visited UVA to talk with the Miller Center’s Doug Blackmon.

The conversation began with a clip from First Year 2017, a Miller Center project about unity and democracy, and featured quotes from former presidents Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln.

After the first video, Blackmon introduced Khan with a short biography: He is a Pakistani immigrant, Harvard graduate and practices law here in Charlottesville.

The second clip, which was produced by Lauren Jackson of UVA’s media studies department, centered on the life of Humayun Khan and showed his character through quotes and stories from those who knew him. Sergeant Lacy Walker said Humayun “was the best leader you could possible imagine.” 

In the clip, Jackson asked the Khans about memories from Humayun’s time at UVA. According to his mother, two young women got into a bidding war to take Humayun out for a charity date night. “He got the highest bid,” Ghazala proudly said. He eventually decided to take both women out.

After the second clip, Khan was obviously filled with emotion. He composed himself and continued the interview, answering questions from Blackmon regarding some of the attacks he and his wife had received since the DNC.

Khan also addressed the notion that he was paid to attack Trump and to join the Clinton campaign.

“I wish somebody would’ve paid me. That would have made me really happy,” he said as the audience erupted in laughter. “When people speak the truth, some criticism is expected.”

Khan also talked about immigrants as a broader group, saying that “all have gone through difficult times coming to the U.S. —Muslims are not different.” He cited those coming from Italy, Ireland and other places throughout our nation’s history. “Your grandparents caught the earlier boat, I caught the later boat,” he said. “We are all immigrants.”

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