Trump speech leaves Cary activist unimpressed, disappointed
Posted March 1
Cary, N.C. — From the balcony of the U.S. House chamber, Faisal Khan said he saw a polarized nation reflected in the reactions to President Donald Trump's speech Tuesday night to a joint session of Congress.
Khan, a community activist from Cary, attended the speech as a guest of Democratic 4th District Congressman David Price, with whom he has worked on issues from health care to fighting terrorism to Islamic relations.
While Khan noted a change in the tone of Trump's rhetoric, he said he was disappointed that the president denounced anti-Semitism but didn't similarly condemn hate crimes on the Islamic community.
"Here’s a guy who is the president of our country and is not willing to acknowledge and condemn any violence against American Muslims," Khan said Wednesday upon his return from Washington, D.C.
He has been particularly vocal since Trump took office and instituted a travel ban affecting millions of Muslims. A federal court has put the ban on hold, but Trump is expected to roll out a new plan later this week restricting immigration from predominantly Muslim countries.
Khan was seated near several other Muslim-Americans for Trump's speech, but he was right next to a Republican lawyer from Minnesota.
"There was obviously a stark difference of our view about Trump," he said. "He got up (to applaud) a lot of times, I didn’t.
"I did not stand for him because I do find his previous rhetoric quite hateful and full of bigotry," he said. "It was a very difficult decision because I want to respect the Constitution, and I do, and I do respect the president."
Khan said he and the man from Minnesota were polite and chatted about the weather before the speech.
"At the end of the day, it was very cordial. I shook hands with him, said have a great day. He was a very fine man," he said.
In a chamber and a country Khan describes as deeply divided, he said he wishes there could be more such respectful disagreements, and while he clashes with the president on how to move America forward, he said he believes the country can get there.
"Of course, we feel we’re in very dark times right now. Emotions are very high," he said. "A lot of good’s going to eventually come out. It's not going to come out immediately, but I think, in the end, we’re going to be a better country."