Gold Star Father Khizr Kahn Speaks Out in San Diegoby Sharon Rosen Leib November 6, 2017
“Silence is death in a democracy. We must speak,” Khizr Kahn, a Pakistani Muslim American immigrant and Gold Star parent to Humayun Khan, a U.S. Army Captain killed in Iraq in 2004, told a crowd of Anti-Defamation League (ADL) supporters in La Jolla. The ADL sponsored Kahn at two local events on November 1 where he eloquently defended the constitutional values of civil discourse and equality.
The 400-person crowd attending ADL’s No Place for Hate Leadership Conference at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center in La Jolla included students, educators and administrators from 45 different San Diego County schools. They came to address issues of bias and bullying and listen to Kahn’s keynote speech. “He was well-received – like a rock star. You could’ve heard a pin drop while he encouraged the kids to speak out when they witness hatred,” said ADL Regional Director Tammy Gillies.
Later that day, Kahn addressed a smaller crowd of ADL supporters at a private, oceanfront home. As the sun set over the Pacific, a visibly tired Kahn told the ADL donors this marked his 163rd speaking engagement since he first publicly challenged anti-Muslim bigotry at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in July 2016. After his DNC speech went viral, he received mail from admirers around the globe. Three letters from Jewish fans included mezuzahs now adorning the Kahns’ home.
A 26-page letter from a retired army nurse who served in Germany during World War II made the biggest impression on Kahn. “She urged my wife and me to continue to speak out. She believes if more people had spoken out pre World War II many horrible atrocities, including the Holocaust, could’ve been avoided. When I get tired I think of that letter,” he said.
Kahn praised the ADL for its ongoing work to combat racism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. “I’m in awe of ADL’s work training kids to be young custodians of our Constitution,” he said. He believes that if we all speak out, goodness will prevail over un-American hatred. “This is our nation – we are responsible for its wellbeing. I will travel the country and continue to speak. We must use our resources to bury this hate so deep it never rises again,” he concluded.