Aspen Ideas Festival: Norman Lear and Khizr Khan on American values and the Constitution

Declaration on display
This copy of the Declaration of Independence, known as the Dunlap Broadside, is on display under glass at the Minnesota History Center. John Dunlap of Philadelphia printed a run of official copies on the evening of July 4, 1776. This is one of the 25 which survive to this day. It was discovered by a Boston man in a frame he bought for $4 in 1989. More recently, TV producer Norman Lear bought it for $8 million.
MPR Photo/Tom Crann

Television producer Norman Lear bought a version of the Declaration of Independence and toured it around the country to promote American values. Khizr Khan is an American citizen from Pakistan who says we must always stay true to the rights and privileges outlined in our Constitution.

Aspen Institute President and CEO Walter Isaacson moderated a discussion with Lear and Khan about the American values embodied in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

Khan says he's grateful and humbled to have become "a citizen of the most dignified and privileged nation on planet earth."

"I have seen what it feels, I have gone through how it is to not have these dignities and privileges, I call them dignities, enshrined in our Constitution," he said.

Lear shares that affinity for the Constitution, saying that as a young boy he was in love with the document, as well as the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.

"Those words, they gave me all the strength I needed," Lear said, adding how difficult it was for him to grow up in a time where Jewish people were marginalized across America and the world.

Today what gives him strength is the recognition of common humanity.

"It's what pulls the American Way together. It's, for me, what has motivated most of what I've been up to in my life. Just understanding that we are one," Lear said. Lear is founder of People for the American Way, an advocacy group that fights "right-wing extremism."

To listen to their conversation, click the audio player above.

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