Whether done conscientiously or not, the Democrats could not have placed a better speaker at the Democratic convention than Khizr Khan, the father of fallen Muslim U.S. soldier Humayun Khan. Khizr Khan’s speech was the perfect bait for an angry Donald Trump response – a Muslim in primetime telling The Donald he knows nothing about the constitution.
Donald Trump has said a lot of horrible things in the past that he’s escaped from unscathed or even strengthened, but this time is unique. First, most of Donald Trump’s outrageous statements have been about groups of people – Muslims, Black Lives Matter, immigrants – and thus there’s no single face on the insults. Second, when Donald Trump has attacked people, they haven’t been people who are universally respected. Lots of people dislike Megyn Kelly, Rosie O’Donald, and John Mccain. In the case of Judge Curiel, there would have been larger ramifications if anyone actually knew who the judge was.
In the case of Khizr Khan, he gave a speech that went viral. Anyone who watches or reads the news likely saw his speech, and respect for Khan is bipartisan. Khan was becoming a national hero of sorts at the exact same time Donald Trump was smearing him and his family on national television.
“If you look at his wife, she was standing there,” Trump told George Stephanopolous.”She had nothing to say. She probably, maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say.”
While Trump was using stereotypes to attack the Khan’s, his surrogates were talking about radical Islamic terrorism, somehow linking an American soldier killed in combat to Islamic terrorism. Former Trump campaign advisor Roger Stone told Alex Jones Khizr Khan is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, sent to bring Sharia Law to the country.
Trump’s attacks have drawn huge backlash from Republican leadership. John McCain, Paul Ryan, and Mitch McConnell have all rebuked Trump’s behavior.
The aspect that makes this case uniquely challenging to the Trump campaign, as opposed to his comments of the past, is that the bigotry now has a face. America now knows Khizr Khan, and Trump’s inability to let things go will probably keep his name in the news in the coming weeks. Trump can get away with saying offensive things about Islamic terrorism because it’s a concept, and most people aren’t going to take the side of terrorists. On the contrary, in a battle between the father of a heroic Muslim soldier and an angry Donald Trump punching down on a grieving family, it’s hard to take Trump’s side.
If the Clinton campaign is smart, they won’t let this go. Trump’s bigotry finally has a face, and Republicans cannot take Trump’s side over Khan’s side. The issue goes beyond Clinton as well, as any Democrat running against a Trump-endorsing-Republican should be mobilizing their resources to making their opponent choose between Khan and Trump.