People are living longer than ever before, global poverty has plummeted, war is on the decline.
Remember, not everything is horrible: https://t.co/ffDLlMhzGd
— Vox (@voxdotcom) November 22, 2017
Khizr Khan has a book out now, which reminded me I’ve been meaning to front-page this Buzzfeed article, “Khizr Khan Hasn’t Given Up On Us Yet“:
… Khan’s new book, An American Family: A Memoir of Hope and Sacrifice, is part autobiography, part civics lesson (the end pages are photocopies of Article VI, Amendment XIII and Amendment XIV of the Constitution, with Khan’s scribbling, underlining, and highlighting), and part patriotic message about the goodness of all Americans. It’s also a deep dive into how a poor Muslim Pakistani boy made it to the US and became a symbol of the resistance against a sexist, race-baiting president who tried to ban immigrants from a number of Muslim-majority countries. But in the book, Trump hardly garners a mention until the very end.
You might think that Khan would feel deeply disappointed in — or even hopeless about — his adopted nation after watching just under half of the US electorate ignore his clear warning about exactly who Trump-as-president would be, and elect him anyway. But when we spoke, he always drove his answers back to the point of both his book and his public persona: America is worth fighting for.
“I am positive this division will go away,” Khan said. “That’s why I don’t talk much about Trump, because this is a momentary difficulty our country is having. Within the DNA of this nation is unity, solidarity. I am a testament to that sentiment of the nation.”
Even if that optimism sometimes seems unearned, even if his hopefulness sometimes feels like the exact thing a first-generation immigrant might say to their ungrateful, Americanized child — I suffered worse than you ever will — and even if it sometimes feels like Khan is too generous to a country that is mired in its divisions, it’s still so easy to listen to his stories of patriotism and unity, and really, truly, believe that his is a world we could all one day live in too…
His American boss in Dubai helps Khan get a job in Houston so he can save up money to go to Harvard. Countless people make sure his wife and children are taken care of back in Pakistan as he toiled on the other side of the planet. Strangers — white, brown, Sikh, Muslim — give Khan a place to stay, a plate of food, a ride, whatever he needs to keep going. When Ghazala and the children come to the US permanently, a stranger from down the hall brings them bags of groceries.
The kindnesses Khan describes in the book seem to be, according to him, deeply American. Only here could such a family thrive. “Division is not [in] the American DNA, it’s not a part of the American fabric,” he said….
Khan and his family live in Charlottesville, Virginia, where the tiki-torch bearing neo-Nazi protests happened in August. When I asked him about those demonstrations, he told me, “I was standing outside my car on the road, watching the parade go by with torches and Nazi flags. [I] never thought that Nazi flags will be carried on the streets of the United States, right before my eyes. I heard all the ugly chants with my own ears.”
But, as in almost any case in which I tried to get Khan to talk about the brutality of American life, he was more interested in the positive aftermath, making an explicit choice to see the best in people. (Obama has often done something very similar; after Trump won, he reminded the country, “Everybody is sad when their side loses an election, but the day after we have to remember that we’re actually all on one team.”)
“The world only knows Friday and Saturday,” Khan said. “But what happened on Wednesday, that is the true America, that is the message of America throughout the nation. On Wednesday, there was a march of the citizens of Charlottesville. They took the same route where these Neo-nazis had marched.” Khan said that now, plenty of homes in Charlottesville bear a banner that says, “No matter where you are from, you’re our neighbor.”…