I didn’t see Khizr Khan’s speech at the Democratic National Convention this week, but I heard it was powerful. Khan, a Muslim and Pakistani immigrant to the US, lost his son, US Army Capt. Humayun Khan, in a 2004 roadside bombing in Iraq. After hearing today on the radio that Trump had criticized Khan and his wife Ghazala, who stood by his side as he delivered the scathing anti-Trump address, I watched the Khan speech. Here it is:
Indeed, it is a very powerful speech. This, from the transcript, is its highlight:
He vows to build walls, and ban us from this country. Donald Trump, you’re asking Americans to trust you with their future.
Let me ask you: have you even read the United States constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy. [he pulls it out] 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 brave patriots who died defending the United States of America.
You will see all faiths, genders and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing and no one.
Whatever your beliefs on Muslim immigration are, you cannot deny the reality of the Khan family’s immense sacrifice for this country, and it is indecent to try. Now, if Donald Trump had the instincts of a normal human being, he would have responded to this speech something like this:
I cannot imagine the pain of what Mr. and Mrs. Khan have been going through since losing their son. I honor their patriotism, and regret that they have allowed the Clinton campaign to exploit their heroic son’s death and their own grief. What I would tell them is this: as Commander in Chief, Donald Trump will not send any more sons and daughters of America to fight and die in unnecessary wars.
Something like that. Normal, decent human beings do not attack Gold Star mothers and fathers. Even though the Khans did enter the political fight with their endorsement of Hillary Clinton, if you have any sense of humanity in you, you just do not attack Gold Star mothers and fathers. Period. The end.
Of course, Donald Trump’s gotta Donald Trump. Here’s what he said to George Stephanopoulos in an interview to air Sunday:
In his first response to a searing charge from bereaved Army father Khizr Khan that he’d “sacrificed nothing” for his country, Donald Trump claimed that he had in fact sacrificed by employing “thousands and thousands of people.” He also suggested that Khan’s wife didn’t speak because she was forbidden to as a Muslim and questioned whether Khan’s words were his own.
“Who wrote that? Did Hillary’s script writers write it?” Trump said in an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos. “I think I’ve made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard.”
Pressed by Stephanopoulos to name the sacrifices he’d made for his country, Trump said: “I think I’ve made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard. I’ve created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures. I’ve had tremendous success. I think I’ve done a lot.”
Trump also cited his work on behalf of veterans, including helping to build a Vietnam War memorial in Manhattan, and raising “millions of dollars” for vets.
The man is contemptible. For the record, he never served in Vietnam, having received a student deferment to complete his Ivy League business degree, and later a medical deferment, supposedly over bone spurs in his feet. He lied to the press about his deferment status. This became an issue after he criticized John McCain as a loser for being captured and tortured by the North Vietnamese. I had forgotten about Trump’s trashing McCain’s service. I am very glad McCain, a hawkish hothead, did not become president, but Trump’s making fun of him as a POW and torture victim is, well, contemptible.
It’s not even August. Can you imagine what else is going to come out of Trump’s mouth before November? It would have been so very easy to have compassionately deflected Khizr Khan’s criticism. But that’s not how Donald Trump rolls. He sure is making it easy for people who fear or loathe Hillary Clinton to withhold their votes from him.
UPDATE: What Ezra Klein said. Excerpt:
Trump also wanted the Khans to know that, like them, he had sacrificed for this country.
“I’ve made a lot of sacrifices,” Trump said. “I work very, very hard. I’ve created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures. I’ve had tremendous success. I think I’ve done a lot.”
I honestly do not understand how a human being can respond to a family that lost their son for this country by saying that he has sacrificed too, he’s worked really hard, he’s built “great structures,” he’s had “tremendous success.”
This is not a question that needs to be asked in most elections, but it needs to be asked in this one: what kind of person is Donald Trump? What kind of person says these things? And is that really the kind of person we want to be president?
UPDATE: Commenter “Hector” is a Christian convert from a Hindu background in India, and doesn’t have a particularly favorable view of Islam. But I liked what he said here:
Donald Trump could have easily said, “Humayun Khan was a hero, but immigration policy can’t be based on individual heroes or villains, it has to be based on statistical trends.” He could have said nothing. He could have said “Humayun Khan was a hero, and his death is too much of a tragedy for me to tarnish it with political arguments.” He could even have said “Humayun Khan was a hero, but I don’t necessarily want to live in a country of heroes: I want to live in a country with which I share a cultural heritage.” All of those would be better than what he actually did say. And I say this as someone quite skeptical of Muslim immigration in general, as well as the ultimate success of the American experiment in religious liberty.