07/21/2017

Mr. Khizr Khan Interview Highlights

Khizr Khan speaks quietly, yet purposefully. But for his towering height, he may not have stood out in the crowd at our June 14, 2017 fundraiser in Washington, D.C. The father of a Muslim-American soldier, who was killed in the Iraq Wa, gained celebrity status following his televised speech at the Democratic National Convention last August. During the speech, where he was flanked by his wife, Khan famously held up a pocket copy of the Constitution as he called out then-candidate Donald Trump for his rhetoric against Muslim Americans.

Khan sat down with the social media action team of AAA Fund for an interview.

Here are the highlights.

  • Since his appearance at the Democratic National Committee convention, Khan has spent less time in his hometown of Charlottesville, Va. He has made 124 public appearances across the country. He feels compelled to speak out “because I feel personally that the country needs the voice of all of us.”

    “That has been my journey and I will continue to speak.”

  • Khan draws strength from meeting people from his visits to California, Iowa, Texas, Michigan, Minnesota, and Washington, D.C. “I have never felt so positive, hopeful and enthusiastic as I feel now when I meet communities … This difficult moment is momentary. It will pass,” he said.

    Where does he derive his optimism? Khan says that he sees Americans “stand for the rule of law, stand for pluralism, stand for goodness of this country.” He says it has been a blessing to have the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and to be among people who also uphold its principles.

  • Khan wants to do more than to come together in affirmation of democratic values. “My emphasis today is on action,” Khan said. He has a clarion call for Americans:

    First, Khan urges Americans to run for office. “Become candidates – not only voters – for school board, county boards, state assembly, Congress.”

    Second, he says that voting is a “must.” “Voting is a privilege, an honor and an obligation.”

    Third, Khan calls on elected officials and the public to speak out against hate crimes. “Hatred is un-American. … regardless of where it comes from or who displays it.” Specifically, he said he was troubled by the murders of the two men who defended Muslim American women in Portland, Oregon, and the recruit who was killed by an alt-right follower on the University of Maryland campus.

  • The Khan family experienced the ultimate sacrifice called for by any American: the loss of their son, Army Capt. Humayun Khan, 27, who died from a suicide bombing in Baghdad 12 years ago.

    When asked to share his thoughts about this sacrifice, Khan immediately spoke favorably about the people in military service and the service itself.

    “These are patriotic Americans,” he said. “We are indebted to their sacrifice. We will not be complete unless we honor the sacrifice of those who stood for this country and sacrificed their lives for this country.”

    Further, Khan urges anyone who wishes to [join] the armed services or law enforcement to do so. “It’s voluntary, not obligatory.”

    At the same time, Khan views military service as a patriotic duty that cannot be eschewed when the time calls.

    “When you made this country, this land, this nation, your home, you must defend it” he said, emphasizing again, “You must defend it.”

    “There is no ‘if.’ There is no ‘but.’ There is no ‘I will enjoy the Constitutions, the Bill of Rights, and I will not defend it.’ That is not patriotic.”

  • When asked about Khan’s advice to Asian Pacific Americans, particularly immigrants who are not yet registered to vote, voting or otherwise engaged in civic activities, he said:

    My humble message would be this: We, parents and families, emigrated to the United States. The United States is a republic and a democracy where your voice can only be heard by participation. … otherwise we [will] sit on the sidelines, and … be ignored.

    “If you come to this country, you must fulfill the obligation,” he ended.

P.S.: Thanks also to Kumar Jayasuriya and Christine Moua for transcription, recording, and editing.

John Chiang on Muslim Ban


Our friend John Chiang, California’s 33rd State Treasurer, has a message for all Californians and Americans:

John Chiang, Candidates for CA Governor Leads 27 Asian American Office Holders to Demand Trump to Reverse Muslim Ban

SACRAMENTO – State Treasurer and California Gubernatorial Candidate, John Chiang rallied influential Asian Pacific Islander Americans elected to local, state and federal offices today, demanding President Donald Trump to rescind his “unconstitutional executive order shutting our nation’s borders to travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries based solely on their race and religious beliefs.”

The letter, included below, is signed by:

John Chiang, California State Treasurer

Betty Yee, California State Controller

Fiona Ma, Chairwoman, California State Board of Equalization Member, Second District

Ted Lieu, Member of Congress, House of Representatives, 33rd Congressional District

Dr. Richard Pan, Member, California State Senate, 6th District

Rob Bonta, Chair, California Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus

Member, California State Assembly, 18th Assembly District

David Chiu, Member, California State Assembly, 17th Assembly District

Phillip Y. Ting, Member, California State Assembly, 19th Assembly District

Kansen Chu, Member, California State Assembly, 25th Assembly District

Ash Kalra, Member, California State Assembly, 27th Assembly District

Evan Low, Member, California State Assembly, 28th Assembly District

Adrin Nazarian, Member, California State Assembly, 46th District

Ed Chau, Member, California State Assembly, 49th Assembly District

Al Muratsuchi, Member, California State Assembly, 66th District

Theresa Mah, State Representative, Illinois General Assembly, 2nd District

Ron Kim, Member, New York State Assembly, 40th District

Yuh-Line Niou, Member, New York State Assembly, 65th District

Mark L. Keam, Member, Virginia House of Delegates, 35th District

Stephen Sham, Vice Mayor, City of Alhambra, California

Jeffrey Koji Maloney, City Council Member, City of Alhambra, California

Ali Sajjad Taj, Mayor, City of Artesia, California

Mark Pulido, Councilmember, City of Cerritos, California

David E. Ryu, Councilmember, City of Los Angeles, California

David Lim, Mayor, San Mateo City Council

Rishi Kumar, City Councilmember, City of Saratoga and Director, California, California League of Cities API Caucus

Basim Elkarra, Trustee, Area 5, Twin Rivers Unified School District

Ameya Pawar, Alderman, City of Chicago, Illinois

Josina Morita, Commissioner, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, Illinois

Text of full the letter:

Dear President Trump:

The Asian Pacific Islander American community is outraged over your unconstitutional executive order shutting our nation’s borders to travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries based solely on their race and religious beliefs.

Your 2,800-word executive order drips with cruel irony as it turns away refugees trying to escape the same Islamic terrorism and violence that you naively claim will be repelled from our shores if we only embrace your bigoted and cowardly directive.

Your ban on Muslims is not only unconstitutional, it forsakes the core values that make America great: equality, fair play, and the shimmering promise that the United States is a welcoming place for those “yearning to be free.”

As Americans, we have been taught to take pride in our diversity and our constitutional right to religious freedom. As Asian Pacific Islander Americans, we will not stand idly by as you attempt to pervert this nation’s melting pot into a boiling cauldron of intolerance, hate, and division.

APIA federal, state and local elected officials demand an immediate cancellation of your order. In just days, you have managed to sow fear and confusion among thousands of travelers, impacting foreign visitors and legal United States residents alike. There are no reports – or even claims – that any of those who have been turned away from flights or detained posed a credible terrorist threat. They are students, scientists, and interpreters serving America’s interests.

As Asian Pacific Islander Americans, we also know what it is like to be labeled “other,” to become victims of state-sponsored racism, bigotry, and xenophobia. Our Chinese ancestors came here to build the transcontinental railroad in the mid-1800s, only to be officially excluded from our shores with Congress’ passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act. Many of our families were left out of the United States because of the Immigration Act of 1924 which banned Arabs and Asians from coming to our country.

And we can never forget World War II, when we locked up innocent U.S. citizens because, in a misguided hysteria to further national security, we deemed the Nisei enemy agents, simply because they were Japanese American. Many of those incarcerated went on to heroically fight in the U.S Army, helping to defeat Nazi Germany, fascist Italy and Imperial Japan.

We wrongly believed these shameful ill-begotten episodes had been consigned to the junk pile of American history – and that the sins of our past, seared into our social memory, would forever inform and guide our better future.

Yet here we are. It is happening again – in 2017 – leaving us shocked, angry and forced to wear the shroud of indignity you have tossed so casually over the nation. Our Muslim brethren are being mistreated because of their faith, dress, and customs. This is un-American.

President Trump, your executive order is breaking up families; separating children from parents; casting a pale over our centuries’ old rule of law and punishing people because of the pigmentation of their skin and the deity they worship.

The history of Asian and Pacific Islander American communities allows us to walk in the shoes of Muslims, today. That is why we stand in solidarity with our fellow Muslim-Americans and immigrants. We view your attack on them as an attack on us.

If there is ever a time to stand on the right side of history, it is now.

Please, Mr. President, reverse your divisive and illegal order. America deserves better.

For more news, please follow Candidate for Governor, John Chiang onTwitter at @JohnChiangCA and on Facebook at John Chiang for Governor 2018.

AAA Fund Stands With Grace Meng for DNC Vice Chair

Grace Meng

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 20, 2017

AAAF Stands With Rep. Grace Meng for DNC Vice Chair
Nation’s oldest Asian American Democratic PAC Supports Northeast’s first Asian American Congresswoman

The Asian American Action Fund is proud to stand with Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) on her re-election bid to serve as the Democratic National Committee Vice Chair. Rep. Meng was voted in for the first time in July 2016, and currently runs ASPIRE PAC, the political arm of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. The Asian American Action Fund was pleased to support Rep. Meng in her historic first run for Congress in 2012, and in her race to become DNC Vice Chair this summer.

Bel Leong-Hong, Chair of the Asian American Action Fund, and Chair of the DNC’s AAPI Leadership Caucus, said, “Rep. Meng has been a tremendous guiding force at the DNC to encourage outreach to Asian American communities and the rising American majority. It is in part due to her leadership and outreach that 87% of AAPIs nationally voted Democratic in 2016 – one of the highest Democratic turnout results. However, our community is a swing vote, and it’s crucial that the Democratic Party continue to engage Asian American voters by having strong representation in leadership.”

Rep. Meng is a daughter of Queens and the first Chinese American Congressmember on the East Coast. She introduced a bill banning the use of the terms “Oriental” and “Negro” from U.S. law. The bill was unanimously passed by both houses of Congress and signed into law by President Obama in 2016. Six weeks after being sworn in, she also led an effort to allow for disaster relief funds to be used for the rebuilding of houses of worship after Hurricane Sandy.

Grace is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and its Subcommittees on the Middle East and North Africa, and Asia and the Pacific. Grace also serves on the House Small Business Committee where she is the Ranking Member of the Agriculture, Energy and Trade Subcommittee. Grace is also a Senior Whip in the House and a founder and Co-Chair of the Kids’ Safety Caucus, the first bipartisan coalition in the House that promotes child-safety issues. She helped create and serves as Co-Chair of the Quiet Skies Caucus which works to mitigate excessive aircraft noise that adversely affects communities. Prior to running for Congress, she served in the New York State Assembly and as an attorney.

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AAA-Fund (www.aaa-fund.com) is a progressive political organization that is dedicated to empowering Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders across the United States.

How we win: build local power

The answer to how we regroup, and how we win, is the same as it’s always been, even given that the unthinkable occurred. It is how any group of people has ever won against long odds.

I am not saying that the next four years will be easy. I remember working my twenty-three year old heart out in Minnesota in 2004, and watching election night returns with a steadily sinking heart. My friend and I hugged each other and held tight. My flight and SuperShuttle back was full of Republicans jubilant in victory. Meanwhile, all I could think was that it would take the rest of my lifetime to undo the SCOTUS decisions that would occur under 4 years of President George W. Bush. I had already seen the deleterious impact of the PATRIOT Act and special registration while working in my Congresswoman’s district office, with families coming in and crying over hard decisions of going underground, splitting up, or moving to Canada.

That was 12 years ago and it feels like a lifetime. Now we have a president-elect whom the previous worst president ever and his father wouldn’t even vote for. I’m pretty convinced that it will take 2 lifetimes to undo the damage done by a Trump presidency. Republicans are 1 state away from controlling enough legislatures to pass Constitutional amendments (this is perhaps scariest of all.) Watching the 2016 returns from the NVDems theoretical victory party, feeling half alive, half dead, and very much like Schrodinger’s cat, I hugged that same friend from ’04 who was there and we commented on how similar it felt. How just like 2004, it doesn’t feel better to win your state when the whole country has lost. As I left Aria, I glanced at the faces of all the young staffers and volunteers, at the children who were in attendance, and I felt bad. They didn’t know just how bad it can get. I’d worked in DC under a Republican administration, where all the agencies turn into the opposite. But this, this would be more unpredictable.

A day later, I went to lunch with a friend and mentee. She asked me the odds of us surviving. Initially I gave a low number but then I thought about all the people I saw on Election Night, friends I’d made over 3 cycles. Friends who had done great work in building local power in Las Vegas and Nevada who were also shocked that Nevada had accomplished so much in four short years.

If you had asked me 4 or 6 years ago if I thought Nevada would be the shining star of election night, I would have snorted. People used to cry about being sent to work the state because of in-fighting, lack of infrastructure, and a highly transient population. Then we won, picking up 2 out of 6 House Democratic seats, and helping to send the first Latina to the U.S. Senate.

Nevada’s victory didn’t come out of nowhere. It took lots of dedicated hours and volunteers. It took some people stepping down so that new leaders could arise. But most of all, it took people putting aside their differences and personality conflicts and egos. The unions worked together and Culinary’s program anchored Labor 2016. Other progressive groups also worked together better. They built local organizations and local power. The AAPI community finally built a community center, and new leaders surfaced who were committed to serving the community. Mostly, no one wanted a repeat of 2014 where the Silver State lost all their Democratic statewides and both legislative houses, which led to a disastrous legislative session. So they were determined to work together.

Other cities, other states can do it too. We, as individuals, can work together. We have to work together because the consequences for not holding tight are too dire. Each of us can make a difference by taking a stand. By running for PTA president or school board. By reaching out at an interfaith service. It all starts somewhere. The answer to the question of how we survive is the same as ever: build local power. Some are waiting for someone, anyone to come and save us. But if there is one thing that I learned from Ferguson, it’s that we have to save ourselves. We are beautiful and so very worth saving. Our democracy is a time-tested and yet fragile ecosystem, one that requires our energy and our participation to keep it alive and functioning. So we are here to do the work, with our two hands, full lungs, and a steadily beating heart.

–Caroline

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