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Gold Star Father Clobbers Tin Pot Politician

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 [1], 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: [2]

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.

Watch the interview here. [2]

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. [3] 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. [4] 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.

266 Comments (Open | Close)

266 Comments To "Gold Star Father Clobbers Tin Pot Politician"

#1 Comment By Fran Macadam On August 2, 2016 @ 2:09 pm

“Veterans of Foreign Wars” – funny, with a military that ostensibly is to defend America’s borders from attack there never are any other than far away foreign wars for long past a century.

Because people die in questionable causes, and the emotional loss is so great, we have to pretend that the wars themselves justified their loss.

This manipulation is so tragic, but predictable, now that those for war are so powerfully situated within our American elites, and because so many benefit financially from endless foreign warmaking.

In a post Christian America, with no moral restraint recognized, this will not end well.

#2 Comment By Fran Macadam On August 2, 2016 @ 2:28 pm

“I’m speaking here to Drumpf backers”

Isn’t that a bit insulting, because of the conflation with Nazism, Mr. Treher?

Changing names in an insulting way kind of harkens back to schoolyard days. I don’t see how that adds other than gasoline to the conversation, though you are right to not allow those who question your personal integrity. I know that you are doing the best any of us can to remain and become truer to our faith. I am sure that the pressures of a deluge of hyper-emotional comments will surely get to you, and it is impossible to have the patience of Job, even if we aspire to it.

[NFR: Why are you accusing me of saying “Drumpf”? I didn’t say it, a commenter did. — RD]

#3 Comment By Fran Macadam On August 2, 2016 @ 2:35 pm

“I’ll be damned if I shed a tear for our current crop of mercenaries who are best viewed as either economically desperate, ‘war lovers’ or fools.”

Believe me, I shed more than a tear from them, if still trying to provoke their nascent or misinformed consciences.

There, but for the grace of God, go I.

The death of soldier/historian/author Andrew Bacevich’s own son Andy, who volunteered for Iraq where his life was cut short, has only intensified the father’s desire to do everything he now can to restrain America’s wayward warmaking. That is how the cause of the lost and maimed is best served.

#4 Comment By Fran Macadam On August 2, 2016 @ 6:57 pm

“[NFR: Why are you accusing me of saying ‘Drumpf’? I didn’t say it, a commenter did. — RD]”

I’m very sorry, since you didn’t, but my excuse is that I believed this quote within a comment that claimed it to be a “NFR” from you, and thus it confused me, as copied below:

“[NFR: I appreciate hearing from people on all sides of this issue, but I am going to start spiking comments from people on both sides who tell me what is really going on in my head and in my heart about all this. I mean it for both sides, but mostly I’m speaking here to Drumpf backers who accuse me of criticizing their guy because I’m trying to protect my career, or some other scummy reason. Question my logic and reasoning all you want, and I’m happy to publish it. But you question my integrity, and you can go to hell for all I care, I’m not publishing your comments anymore. — RD]”

[NFR: Oh dear, that was a total slip, probably a Freudian one. I have never used the word “Drumpf” before. Must’ve been mad! I wish I hadn’t used it. I apologize. — RD]

#5 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On August 2, 2016 @ 9:38 pm

Logically, that means that the war dead of any nation ought to be honored, since the cause doesn’t alter their loss of life. Yet that will definitely get you in trouble with many if not most folks. Recall the furor over Reagan’s visit to a war cemetery in Germany.

But see C.S. Lewis in The Screwtape Letters on how monstrously unfair it is that The Enemy (of Our Father Below) allows souls to be saved because the individual sincerely believed that they were nobly serving a righteous cause — giving the example of the humble SS private.

Gee Jen, you left out the part of him having zero contact with his biological father during his upbringing.

Its in the blood, M_Young, its in the blood!

#6 Comment By OMM 0910 On August 2, 2016 @ 10:54 pm


#7 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On August 3, 2016 @ 12:00 am

This is actually a pretty good analogy. I would say it is a stretch to consider him to have any holiness, and I don’t really think any of his supporters considers him some sort of saint, but the combination of incoherence and truth-saying is what characterizes both a Holy Fool and Trump’s political campaign. It is also why he has been so effective at realigning American politics (something I am unequivocally happy to see), because that sort of mercurial form of thought is so difficult to pin down without just attacking the person directly, which is itself ineffective as a tactic

Michael Guarino,

I’m glad you liked the analogy! I was a bit hesitant about it in case Rod or other Orthodox readers found it mildly blasphemous. I didn’t mean to suggest Trump is particularly holy or saintly. Just that, like the Holy Fool, he’s so outlandish and so much on the ‘fringe’ of normal political discourse (though Trump is on the fringe because of his wealth, and the Holy Fool because of his poverty), that polite society doesn’t know what to make or how to respond to him. His incoherent ramblings and the fact that he knows he’s on the ‘outside’ of polite society and doesn’t care, allow him the freedom to occasionally speak truths that more mainstream figures would never dare to say, or even to think. His utterances aren’t particularly well thought out or coherent, but on many occasions they’re, well, true, and his status as a political outsider are what let him utter them.

One of the best examples, I think, was his famous/notorious remarks about “there needs to be some punishment” for women who have abortions. Rod was outraged when Trump said that, and said “he obviously hasn’t thought about it for more than five minutes, no serious pro-lifer would ever say that.” Is that really true though? Is there any good logical or moral reason not to impose any kind of legal sanctions on women who have abortions, if you really believe it’s homicide? I don’t think so. Plenty of countries do punish women who have abortions, with short jail sentences, and they aren’t all backwards African theocracies either. Among them are Chile (a country with a Europe-level fertility rate and arguably more liberal sexual ethics than we have), Colombia (a country liberal enough to have gay marriage and some limited drug legalization), Brazil (the country which had a pro-life socialist woman president earlier this year), El Salvador (which has now has a lower fertility rate than America), and others. There’s no intrinsic logical reason why, if abortion is murder, you wouldn’t punish everyone involved with it.

The reason the organized pro-life movement in this country never whispers a peep about punishing mothers, and why they were so horrified, is because they know it wouldn’t be politically expedient to do so. Which of course they paper over with verbiage about “every abortion has two victims, the baby and the mother”. But in fact that isn’t true at all. Some mothers are quite aware of what they’re doing and don’t care. The classic “mother is the second victim” talking point of the American pro-life lobby is a selling-out to political expediency which actually makes us look less principled in the long term, and makes it clear we don’t have the courage of our conbictions. Trump isn’t beholden to anyone so he had the freedom to actually say what a neutral outsider, coming to this issue with no ties to any ‘movement’ would say based purely on the internal logic of the pro-life position.

#8 Comment By Darth Thulhu On August 3, 2016 @ 4:59 am

mrscracker wrote:

You know, this is really all staged political theatre.

Indeed. And there is nothing Mr. Trump enjoys more than being center stage.

I don’t see the necessity of taking the bait. Mr Trump shouldn’t either.

The “necessity” is that he “needs” to make an example of people with less power than him presuming to take him down a peg before an audience of tens of millions. He “needs” to break them, publicly and slowly and relentlessly, as an example to others.

So Khan stood up and showed that he doesn’t understand Constitutional law while lecturing Trump, but Trump can’t leave it at showing Khan to be an inept misreader of the prop Constitution that he carries around.

No, no, Trump also “needs” to steal all of the energy from the President’s speech, and he “needs” to distract from Clinton’s nomination, and he also “needs” to make a gruesome example of two Muslim immigrants who chose to pick a fight with him.

So he says that he wishes the wife were allowed to speak.

And he says that the entire Khan job is despicable.

And he questions the genuineness of the parents’ motives for being on that stage.

And BOOM, the man has already stolen all of the thunder from the Democratic Convention, for every day since, while also knowing that every single knee-jerk liberal and neocon and TradCon source of journalism is going to get the vapors and scream “how dare you!” and defend the pure flawless parents and write and write and write and write about it … while Trump and a horde of surrogates all continue to hammer away.

Trump and his horde keep hammering, and keep looking for any cracks to drive a wedge into, then finding those cracks, then sticking the wedge in, then continuing to hammer on that wedge, day after day after day, slowly and inexorably making the Khans into the issue. And then continuing to hammer on them, opening new cracks, until the shatter in full public view.

Trump does not care if he covers himself in excrement, so long as he completely buries his enemy in ten times as much excrement. The excrement will eventually wash off Trump, while his enemy remains dead of asphyxiation.

So watch Trump and his surrogates continue to find cracks in the Khan job and continue to hammer on them, day after day, until the Khans’ public credibility lies in ruins and Mr. Khan isn’t able to keep doing his job as a Saudi lobbyist and immigration lawyer because of all the negative publicity.

Because Trump “needs” to make a gruesome example of anyone who so publicly attempts to thwart his campaign.

Because that is who Trump is.

#9 Comment By Fran Macadam On August 3, 2016 @ 11:26 am

“But see C.S. Lewis in The Screwtape Letters on how monstrously unfair it is that The Enemy (of Our Father Below) allows souls to be saved because the individual sincerely believed that they were nobly serving a righteous cause”

I’d like to see the exact quotation, because this false interpretation amounts to justification by faith alone – any faith in anything at all, no matter what, as long as it is sincere.

I’d say,rather, that one might be saved, not because of, but despite some illusions. That said, you can’t abrogate personal responsibility for evil doing by just claiming to be following orders, even if some chaplains are at pains to tell you that very thing.

#10 Comment By Fran Macadam On August 3, 2016 @ 11:48 am

“Trump and his horde keep hammering … Trump does not care if he covers himself in excrement … watch Trump and his surrogates until the Khans’ public credibility lies in ruins and Mr. Khan isn’t able to keep doing his job as a Saudi lobbyist and immigration lawyer”

The salient point for voters (“Horde”? “Surrogates”?) isn’t the winsome personality of Donald J. Trump, but that he is up against the surrogates of the elite consensus who are acting against the interests of most Americans.

Is Mr. Khan really a Saudi lobbyist and immigration attorney? That puts a new light on the connections that may have caused him to be featured at a neocon war hawk’s political convention. The Saudis are the biggest foreign customer of military industrial complex war machines, and there’s loads of money involved, despite the missing 28 pages and their inhuman misuse in Yemen. That ought to trump any concerns about Trump’s tweets.

#11 Comment By JR On August 3, 2016 @ 12:45 pm

Not sure if anyone noticed, but didn’t the GOP have an election party in 2004 in which they wore purple-heart bandaids to trivialize and mock Sen. Kerry’s war record via the “Swifties?”

It seems to me the “Wrath of Khan” would be better directed at the Bush idiocy that put his kid into Iraq in the first place.

While he is no doubt a moderate Muslim, the ones Trump is proposing to keep out are the radicals who do not recognize any of the ideals of our Constitution, and as the would-be immigrants are not American citizens, should not be entitled to claim constitutional protections before they have even taken the oath of citizenship which requires renouncing ties to foreign governments — especially the hostile ones.

#12 Comment By Fred Bowman On August 3, 2016 @ 2:51 pm

Sort of off the subject but then again maybe not is the “800 Lb Gorilla” that I’ve yet to hear out of any Trump supporters and that is “How is Trump if elected, can effectively govern?” The way Trump is going he’s burning every bridge he has in Congress and I don’t VP nominee Pense will be able to repair that damage. Say what you will about Hillary, but she knows full well how Washington works and no doubt, use it to her advantage.

#13 Comment By Demelza On August 3, 2016 @ 11:52 pm

I feel the need to comment here, but just as an ordinary human being, not a political expert. It does not matter what point HRC’s campaign sought to make with Mr. & Mrs. Khan’s appearance at the DNC. There is one horrible truth here. These are parents who have lost a child. It does not matter how old he was or whether it was to war, starvation, gang violence, disease or guns. The loss of a child is insurmountable and devastating. The guilt and sorrow for the parents will never fade. The pain will never, ever go. The self-recrimination will last forever. I base my opinion on an enormous amount of reading, hundreds of conversations of grieving parents, and, unfortunately, my experience losing my own son seven years ago. There is simply no recovery. Mr. Trump – and your spokespeople – please tread lightly here.

#14 Comment By M_Young On August 4, 2016 @ 8:39 am

“Gee Jen, you left out the part of him having zero contact with his biological father during his upbringing.

Its in the blood, M_Young, its in the blood!”

Good catch, Siarlys. I was expecting someone to bring this up. Undoubtedly Jobs got a lot of his smarts — maybe 1/4, maybe 3/8, from this biological father. But the circumstance in which he was raised was also important, both in terms of the general period (the imposed immigration lull) and his home (working class whites couple, the father of which instilled love of craftsmanship in Jobs).

Remember, it isn’t we hereditarians that are the absolutists; no one denies that environment plays a role in IQ, educational attainment etc. But that role is not 100%, as ‘nuturists’, the extreme ones, believe.

#15 Comment By John Uebersax On August 4, 2016 @ 1:55 pm

What they should have said is, “Our son died in a pointless, racist war fought for oil and profit, justified by lies, promoted by a corrupt government, and voted for by Hillary Clinton.”


“As much as we may deplore statements of Donald Trump, the more important fact is that Hillary Clinton has already shown no hesitation to sacrifice the lives and welfare of millions of Muslims — and Christians, too, for that matter — in the Middle East and Africa to advance her political career.”

#16 Comment By OMM 0910 On August 6, 2016 @ 5:12 pm


H/T: [7]