There’s a certain poetry in the fact that potentially the most damaging blow yet to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has come from a Muslim-American named Khan.
As you likely already know, during the Democratic Convention last week, Khizr Khan, and his wife Ghazala, paid homage to their son, U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan, who died at the age of 27, during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004.
But the Khans’ appearance was much more than that.
It was one of the first times that a Trump outrage actually stuck, and seemed to have legs. More so than the time Trump suggested that Mexican immigrants are rapist, and more than the time that Trump mocked a reporter with a disability. This time, the entire country seemed to rally around this humble, grieving family.
And the question is why?
First a quick recap of what Trump, and the Khans, said.
Trump, as you know, has called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States, and Trump also spoke sympathetically of FDR’s internment of Japanese-, Italian-, and German- Americans. The Khans took issue with this, because, as they noted, their own son wouldn’t have been able to serve in the US military had Trump been commander-in-chief.
But the Khans went further:
If it was up to Donald Trump, he never would have been in America. Donald Trump consistently smears the character of Muslims.
He [Trump] disrespects other minorities, women, judges, even his own party leadership. He vows to build walls and ban us from this country.
Donald Trump, you are asking Americans to trust you with our future. Let me ask you: Have you even read the US constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy. In this document, look for the words liberty and equal protection of law.
Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery? Go look at the graves of the brave patriots who died defending America – you will see all faiths, genders, and ethnicities.
You have sacrificed nothing and no one.
Trump had finally met his match.
Trump, per usual, was having none of it. He practically accused the Khans of making up their story, suggesting that they didn’t even write their own speech (they did), and then he made an odd comment about Mrs. Khan having remained silent while her husband spoke. Trump suggested it was because Mrs. Khan was a Muslim, and in his warped understanding of the faith, women aren’t permitted to speak their mind.
“If you look at his wife, she was standing there,” [Trump] said, “She had nothing to say… Maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say. You tell me.”
Mrs. Khan explained later that her husband, a Harvard-educated lawyer, had wanted his wife to say a few words, but she knew that if she spoke publicly about her son’s death she would break down in tears. Even though it’s been 12 years since his death, she still can’t do it.
Trump again attacked the Khans this morning, falsely suggesting that he opposed the Iraq war — in fact, Trump came out in favor of the war right before it started:
For whatever reason, the Khans’ story went viral. And still, several days later, the Khans are doing TV appearances, and much of the country is discussing their very private pain.
I must admit to being a bit surprised that the one story of Trump’s excess to go super-viral would be his mistreatment of a Muslim-American family. We are a Christian country, though not in the way the Republicans often use the phrase. A majority of our citizens are Christians, and, in contrast to much of the rest of the developed world (Europe comes to mind), Americans still take their faith seriously. And at the risk of using a word that is far too overused, America is based on Christian “privilege” — the notion that we Christians are the only ones here, and the only ones who count. (The Khans are also dark-skinned, another potential strike against them when it comes to majority sympathy — or so one would have thought before this past week.)
But Americans are also, at their core, good people. And, to our collective credit, we saw parents publicly grieving over their patriotic son who had given his life for our country, and regardless of our politics, race or religion, they touched a chord and a nerve.
With everyone other than Donald Trump.
Trump’s latest latest barb suggested that the Khans had no right to criticize him:
“While I feel deeply for the loss of his son, Mr. Khan who has never met me, has no right to stand in front of millions of people and claim I have never read the Constitution, (which is false) and say many other inaccurate things. If I become President, I will make America safe again.”
The US Constitution gives Mr. Khan that right.
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