AIF Blog

How Pop Culture Helps Us Understand American Values

Jan 30, 2018
CATEGORY: Arts, U.S.A., World

Walter Isaacson sits down with Norman Lear and Khizr Khan at the Aspen Ideas Festival in 2017.

America's most revered documents, the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Decleration of Independence, provided comfort during challenging times to two men on different continents. Norman Lear poured over these texts at public school when his father was incarcerated. “Those words were — they gave me all the strength I needed. My father was away, and I needed the strength those documents gave me," he says. In Pakistan, Khizr Khan lived under martial law when he read the Decleration of Independence. “I used to dream, after reading those documents, is there a nation on earth, are there people on planet earth with these rights and privileges that are guaranteed to them?”

Many years later, these men would meet. Eventually Khizr Khan moved to America and became a citizen. Now he passionately tells people about the US Constitution. In 2016 he spoke at the Democratic National Convention about his son, US Army Captain Humayan Khan, who was killed in Iraq. Lear became a TV producer, telling stories about diverse American life in programs like "All in the Family," "The Jeffersons," and "Good Times." Lear founded the progressive advocacy group People for the American Way. Khan now sits on the board of the organization.

In this Aspen Ideas to Go episode, Khan and Lear are interviewed by Aspen Institute President and CEO Walter Isaacson.



"Aspen Ideas to Go” is a weekly show featuring fascinating speakers who have presented at the Aspen Ideas Festival and other public programs offered by the Aspen Institute. For a curated listening experience, subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts or find an archive of episodes here.