Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was both hilarious and serious at the Democratic National Convention Thursday night, targeting Donald Trump with wit and candor. “I’m Michael Jordan, and I’m here with Hillary,” the basketball legend said to the audience, which gave him a mixed reaction. “I said that because I know Donald Trump couldn’t tell the difference.” The crowd burst into uproarious laughter, and then Abdul-Jabbar introduced himself properly.
The retired Laker then told the story of the late Army Captain Humayun Khan, one of 14 American-Muslim soldiers who have died in combat while serving the United States since 9/11. An immigrant from United Arab Emirates, Khan and his family visited the Jefferson Memorial when they first arrived in the U.S. “The words engraved there read, ‘I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal, hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man,'” said the ballplayer, who adopted his Muslim name at age 24. “Donald Trump’s idea to register Muslims and prevent them from entering our country is the very tyranny Jefferson abhorred.
“In 1777, Jefferson drafted the Virginia statute for religious freedom, which later became a model for the First Amendment,” he continued. “Today’s so-called religious freedom acts, like the one signed by Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana, are the opposite of what Jefferson wanted because they allow discrimination. And at its core, discrimination is a result of fear. Those who think Americans scare easily, enough to abandon our country’s ideals for a false sense of security, underestimate our resolve. To them, we say only this: ‘Not here, not ever.'”
After a video showed Clinton speaking about Captain Khan, his parents stepped up to the podium and his father, Khizr Khan, said they were proud that the Captain was their son and that they were proud to be “patriotic American Muslims with undivided loyalty to our country.”
He, too, had sharp words for the GOP nominee. “If it was up to Donald Trump, [our son] never would have been in America,” Khizr said. “Donald Trump consistently smears the character of Muslims. He disrespects other minorities, women, judges, even his own party leadership. He wants to build walls and ban us from this country.” The audience began booing. “Donald Trump, you’re asking Americans to trust you with their future; let me ask you, have you even read the United States Constitution? … Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery? Go look at the graves of brave patriots who died defending the United States of America. You’ll see all faiths, genders and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing – and no one. We cannot solve our problems by building walls.”