Saturday, July 30, 2016

Khizr Khan's Service to America

It's been almost two days since the conclusion of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, and the words that are still in my mind, in fact, the only words, are not from Presidents and First Ladies, not from candidates for President and Vice President, not from former Mayors and lots of other people, impassioned and eloquent and memorable as they were.   It's what Khizr Khan, his wife beside him, father of slain US-Muslim soldier Humayun Khan killed in the Iraq War, said to Donald Trump.

They've no doubt been seen by millions of people on the Internet.  They were heard by millions when Khan said them.  But here they are again - like all words for the ages, you can't read or hear them too many times:

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 ... 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.

Dan Rather said to Rachel Maddow last night that he thought those words - especially that final sentence - were the most powerful he had ever heard at any national political convention, going back to 1956.  I agree. Indeed, I think those words are more powerful and important than any great political statements in any arena - better than Lloyd Bentsen's "Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy" to Dan Quayle in the 1988 Vice Presidential debate, even better than Joseph Welch to Joe McCarthy in the 1954 Senate hearing, "At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"

What Khan said was even more important to our country and its future, and the world, because of who he is and whom he said it to.   Khan is an immigrant, and a man whose son made the ultimate sacrifice for this country, to save the soldiers around him.

And Trump is ... well ... poking holes in his positions is easier than shooting fish in a barrel.  But Khan burst Trump's balloon of bluster and hate and ignorance more fully and effectively than anyone I've seen before.  Khan's words laid bare Trump's appalling and pathetic ignorance, along with his selfishness and greed and profound inability to walk the walk.

Those words should be carved in a monument in some public place, as a response to the totalitarian impulse that has now gripped some of this nation.   And they should be kept in mind by anyone doesn't like Trump, but is thinking of staying home on Election Day, or maybe voting for a third party candidate, because they don't like Hillary Clinton much either. I think Hillary will make an excellent President and would be voting for her whoever her Republican rival.  But with Trump, and with Khizr Khan's words indelibly in my mind, I'd vote for Hillary in a heartbeat whatever my opinion of her career.

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