Muslim immigrant Khizr Khan addressing the Democratic convention in Philadelphia.
By Amy Gibson-O’Brien
Khizr Khan, Gold star father and lawyer, and Charles M. Blow, columnist for The New York Times, spoke to a crowd of more than 1,500 at the annual American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts Bill of Rights Dinner Monday, May 15.
Both spoke of the ever-growing threats to freedom of speech and civil liberties in America and how to challenge those threats.
Blow said President Donald Trump “represents an attack on the fundamental supports of our democracy” and that he is “a man who’s [a] logical extension of toxic masculinity and ambient misogyny, racism and anti-intellectualism…of wealth worship.”
Khan, the 2017 Roger Baldwin Honoree, cited the current administration and Russia as threats to American democracy. He spoke of the children, veterans and elderly he has met “…who are afraid that their rights are endangered.” Khan advises ACLU will take care of them but to also call their local representatives. “Never underestimate the power of your voice, the power of your action,” said Khan.
In 2004 Khan’s son, Capt. Humayun Khan, died in a bomb explosion while on tour in Iraq. Humayun was honored after his death with a Purple Heart and Bronze Star. This earned the Khan family the right to fly a gold star, rather than blue, on their service flag. This is Khan’s 111th speech since most notably speaking out against Trump’s immigration policies at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Khan continues to hold up a pocket copy of the Constitution that he iconically offered to read aloud to Trump at the Democratic National Convention.
Matthew Segal, legal director for the ACLU of Massachusetts also spoke at the event citing their recent victories against the Muslim travel ban as well as the wrongful convictions of over 21,000 cases in Bridgeman v. District Attorney for Suffolk County.
The event was the largest dinner in the ACLU of Massachusetts 97-year history, according to Executive Director Carol Rose. Benefactors sought to raise one million dollars on that night alone to allow ACLU to continue to defend civil rights and liberties. “Resistance is an act of radical, even revolutionary patriotism…resistance is essential and possibly existential,” said Blow.