Khizr Khan’s Democratic convention speech paying tribute to his son, Humayun Khan, a 27-year-old Army captain killed in Iraq in 2004, has reframed the presidential race through an expression of moral authority.
In December, Donald Trump pandered to the fears and prejudices of many Americans by calling for a “total ban” on Muslims entering the United States.
The Khan family, in the testimony of the father and the military service and lost life of the son, have irrefutably destroyed any semblance of legitimacy to Trump’s proposal.
There is no counter-argument Trump can effectively make and thus as a man “totally void of any decency” (as Khan observes), Trump has resorted to insulting his critics.
He has insulted both father and mother and their marriage and by extension all Muslims by suggesting that Ghazala Khan was not “allowed” to speak at the convention — Trump’s insinuation being that all Muslim women live under enforced silence.
In one respect, Trump’s response is completely true to form — he always denigrates his critics — but what is most revealing in this case is his willingness to trample on an American family who in the eyes of most Democrats and Republicans embody a widely accepted definition of patriotic citizens.
Trump wants voters to believe that as president, he would put America first, but what he has demonstrated again and again is that his vision extends no further than himself — that he is psychologically incapable of doing anything other than put Trump first.
Trump brags about his enormous success, his great wealth, and his huge popularity, but underneath all this self-aggrandizing swagger is a hollow core.
This is a man whose self-worth depends on him seeing his name emblazoned in giant letters because he is too afraid to look inside and take an honest account of how he measures as a human being.
Buried underneath Trump’s profusion of self-praise is the terror of a man in flight from his own sense of worthlessness.
This is a man who always hungers for more as he struggles to mask his own spiritual poverty.
The ugliness without, mirrors the ugliness within.
The Washington Post reports:
In response to Trump’s attack on his wife, Khan said the Republican nominee’s words were “typical of a person without a soul.”
Khan said his wife didn’t speak because she breaks down when she sees her son’s photograph — a huge one of which was projected onto a screen behind the stage at the convention.
“Emotionally and physically — she just couldn’t even stand there, and when we left, as soon as we got off camera, she just broke down. And the people inside, the staff, were holding her, consoling her. She was just totally emotionally spent. Only those parents that have lost their son or daughter could imagine the pain that such a memory causes. Especially when a tribute is being paid. I was holding myself together, because one of us had to be strong. Normally, she is the stronger one. But in the matter of Humayun, she just breaks down any time anyone mentions it.”
Khan said he asked his wife whether she wanted to address the convention.
“I asked her, ‘Do you want to say something? Thank you? We are glad?’” Khan said. “She said, ‘You know what will happen. I will sob.’ Would any mother be able to utter a word under those circumstances?”
Khan also said that he is now turning his attention to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), appealing to them to repudiate what he considers to be Trump’s divisive rhetoric. He said the matter of Trump’s candidacy has become a moral issue beyond policy or political disagreement.
“I am saying to them that this is your moral duty — and history will judge you . . . This will be a burden on their conscience for the rest of their lives,” Khan said near midnight Saturday.
Speaking of Trump’s proposed suspension of Muslim immigration, Khan said that the candidate is simply “pandering for votes.”
“This is my country too,” he said, adding that Trump “lacks understanding,” that most Muslims are victims of terrorism, not perpetrators — and they condemn it. “He lacks awareness of these issues. He doesn’t realize there are patriotic Muslim Americans in this country willing to lay their lives for this country. We are a testament to that.”
On Friday, Khizr and Ghazala Khan spoke to Lawrence O’Donnell. (In the videos below, their conversation is preceded by a short review of the highlights of other speeches delivered at the Convention.)
Khizr Khan spoke directly to Republican leaders, Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell and Speaker Paul Ryan, saying: “If your candidate wins and he governs the way he has campaigned, my country, this country will have [a] constitutional crisis that has never [occurred] before in this history of this country.” Appealing to both men, Khan said: “There comes a time in the history of a nation, where an ethical, moral stance has to be taken regardless of the political cost.”