Harmeet Dhillon, the first woman vice chair in the Republican party’s history, opened Tuesday night’s Republican National Convention by singing the invocation in Punjabi, another party first, before translating it into English. “Please give us the courage to make the right choices, to make common cause with those with whom we disagree, for the greater good of our nation,” the 47-year-old San Francisco lawyer told the delegates.
Born in Chandigarh, India and raised as a devout Sikh, Dhillon first made headlines in 1988 as the editor for Dartmouth College’s conservative paper, the Dartmouth Review. The paper published a satirical column that likened the college president, who was Jewish, to Adolf Hitler, and his policies to the Holocaust. Dhillon also published a drawing of the college president as Hitler on the cover of the paper’s next issue. Despite broad condemnation, Dhillon denied that the column was anti-semitic, arguing that there was nothing offensive about comparing “liberal fascism” with other forms of fascism. “I’m very disturbed about the response to [the column],” she said at the time. “I’m very surprised, very, very surprised.”
When Dhillon ran for vice chair of the state GOP in 2013, opposition was initially fierce. Fliers posted at the convention called her a “Taj Mahal princess,” a county GOP women’s group leader called her a Muslim who supported beheadings, and rumors spread that she planned on sacrificing a goat at the lectern. Dhillon, however, would not be stopped, and has since become the public face of the state GOP. “She was elected on her merits,” said Charles Munger Jr., a major GOP donor. “She got there in spite of being a woman, in spite of being Sikh … There was no royal road paved for her.”
Watch her complete invocation in the video below. Before Dhillon begins, she tells the audience, “A Sikh always covers her head when offering this prayer,” and then fixes a headscarf in place.
Read the full story at The Los Angeles Times.