Community activist Khan gives Dare Dems tough advice

By on May 30, 2018

Faisal Khan in Nags Head May 20. (Faisal Khan)

Community activist Faisal Khan delivered tough criticism to his audience Monday evening while discussing community involvement and hopes for the future with the Dare County Democratic Party.

After spending the weekend on the Outer Banks working with community and church leaders, Khan, director and founder of the Carolina Peace Center, gave his talk to party members at Nags Head town hall.

Failures of the past election cycle and previous elections called for an honest and critical assessment, he said.

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“We have to look at ourselves in the mirror and ask what role did we play in that,” he said.

He noted that the party’s platform of supporting workers and the working poor was often at odds with legislation that supported income inequality. He specifically pointed to a party platform that  did not match the voting records of officials, votes that were damaging the family farm.

“The Democratic Party should end it’s neglect of the rural voter. This is really important,” he said, telling the audience that current policies have led to growth of corporate farming and the loss of family farms.

Discussing a number of issues associated with the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, Khan noted that the constant state of war the country has endured since 2001 has cost over $5 trillion and that for a relatively small portion of those funds, paying for college tuition for all students would be possible and universal health care would be closer to reality.

Ultimately, he said, the key to the success of the Democratic Party will be in how it addresses the concerns of the community it wants to represent.

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“This is about more than just increasing voter turnout. It’s about energizing as well as expanding the base of the party,” he told the assembled party members. “It means focusing on how our party can best serve the needs of the community not the other way around.”

Khan, a Muslim a citizen of the United States, said it’s his faith that brought him to his work as a community organizer.

“It’s very universal tenet, Judaeo-Christian, Muslim beliefs and even Buddhist as well,” he said in an interview. “It’s ‘Are you willing to make the sacrifices, to share?’ In order to help somebody you have to have extra help. And the willingness and desire.”

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Although the policies he favors are typically associated with the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, he is equally disapproving of Republicans and Democrats.

“I am critical of both parties because I think both parties have failed the American public in general … I look at red and I look at blue and it’s the same old thing,” he said. “Same soundbites, the same political slogans. ‘Change is coming. America is going to be great. Believe in our cause.’

“It feels great, the emotions are beautiful, but it doesn’t have any substance to it. It’s because of that, most of politics are not serving the American people. It’s serving the corporation. Until we stop bringing corporate money into our politics we’re going to continue to see this trend.”

He became a community organizer in 2001 as a way to respond to what he saw happening to his faith in the wake of the terrorist attack in 2001.

“It was after 9/11. It was a horrific tragedy. There was a heightened spike in hate crime and hate assaults,” he said. “People were being profiled and being subject to harassment.”

Including Khan.

“I got stopped at the airport once. Taken to a room. There was no harm done. But I’m an American citizen,” he said.

The theme of being a citizen of the United States and how he sees that responsibility is a recurring subject.

“I started seeing the erosion of our political system and our democratic institutions. People were becoming less critical, just accepting the status quo,” he said. “And I thought there had to be voices out there, and not only my voice, to start speaking out about what is right and what is wrong.”

In his talk to the Dare County Democrats, the need to speak out was addressed, but in doing so he also expressed a vision of what he hopes to accomplish over time.

“We as a nation have a duty to our children and our grandchildren to leave a strong and prosperous nation for them to live in,” he said. “It is incumbent upon us to stand up for justice and peace, and learn to work together putting our differences aside so our coming together on issues will grow a healthy and peaceful environment where they can … turn their dreams into reality.”

The idea of a peaceful way forward continually comes up in his discussions and he seems to connect the concept of standing up for what he believes is right to his faith and the faith of others.

“I’ve been very passionate about interfaith dialogue, and then I realized one thing that was missing in my interfaith dialogue was there was no discussion of social justice. If you go to any faith, starting from Noah, to Moses to Jesus or Muhammad, they all spoke about justice and peace. They all spoke against the power. Peacefully, but they did speak out. This discussion had to be a part of any interfaith or religious discussion,” he said.

“This cause became really important,” he went on to say. “Not About Islam becoming demonized or these fear-mongering tactics. It’s more about everybody. More about our children and grandchildren.”

“What,” he asked, “Am I going to say to my daughter when she grows up?”

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