With the media in full frenzy during the past three days over the public feud between the Pakistan-born Khizr Khan, who last week told the story of his son, a Muslim US army captain who received a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart after being killed in Iraq in 2004, and Donald Trump, earlier this morning the Republican presidential candidate refused to back down, defending his criticism of the parents by complaining on Twitter that the father "viciously attacked" him in his speech at the Democratic National Convention.
I was viciously attacked by Mr. Khan at the Democratic Convention. Am I not allowed to respond? Hillary voted for the Iraq war, not me!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 31, 2016
He added that Khan, who was killed 12 years ago, "was a hero" but that "this is about RADICAL ISLAMIC TERROR and the weakness of our "leaders" to eradicate it.
Captain Khan, killed 12 years ago, was a hero, but this is about RADICAL ISLAMIC TERROR and the weakness of our "leaders" to eradicate it!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 31, 2016
There has been much back and forth between the two parties, with Khan most recently questioning whether Trump had ever read the Constitution and saying "you have sacrificed nothing." As AP notes, this was the latest bitter rhetorical volley between the defiant Republican candidate and the family of the fallen soldier. A quick recap of the key highlights for those who have not watched TV in the last three days.
At last week's Democratic National Convention, Khizr Khan told the story of his son who was killed in the Iraq war in 2004. Khan questioned whether Trump had ever read the Constitution and said "you have sacrificed nothing." During the speech, Khan's wife, Ghazala, stood quietly by his side. "If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably, maybe she wasn't allowed to have anything to say. You tell me," Trump said, in an interview with ABC's "This Week."
Ghazala Khan responded Sunday in an opinion piece published in the Washington Post, saying talking about her son's death 12 years ago is still hard for her. When her husband asked if she wanted to speak at the convention, she said she could not.
"I didn't feel anything except the pain," said Ghazala Khan about Trump's insinuations.— Daniel Burke (@BurkeCNN) July 31, 2016
Let that sink in. pic.twitter.com/OME79YMeuH
"When Donald Trump is talking about Islam, he is ignorant," she wrote. "If he studied the real Islam and Koran, all the ideas he gets from terrorists would change, because terrorism is a different religion."
Her husband told television talk shows on Sunday that he appreciated Trump's later comments that his son was a hero but that he had no "moral compass", reverting to more traditional Democratic talking points.
At one point, Trump had disputed Khan's criticism that the billionaire businessman has "sacrificed nothing and no one" for his country. "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," Trump said.
Senior Republican leaders, including House Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, remained silent on Sunday, as did vice presidential nominee Mike Pence. But John Kasich, the Ohio governor who sought the GOP presidential nomination, said on Twitter, "There's only one way to talk about Gold Star parents: with honor and respect. Capt. Khan is a hero. Together, we should pray for his family."
Late Saturday night, Trump released a statement calling Humayun Khan "a hero" but disputing his father's characterization. "While I feel deeply for the loss of his son, Mr. Khan who has never met me, has no right to stand in front of millions of people and claim I have never read the Constitution, (which is false) and say many other inaccurate things," said Trump.
The statement was titled "Setting the record straight."
The Trump for President campaign today released the full transcript of Donald J. Trump’s response to a pre-taped ABC This Week question from George Stephanopoulos referencing criticism from Khizr Khan.
As shown in the full transcript, Mr. Trump doesn’t compare his sacrifices to anybody else’s, and in fact praises Mr. Khan and wishes him well.
Mr. Trump also released a statement Saturday praising Mr. Khan’s son, Captain Humayun Khan, who was killed serving in Iraq:
“Captain Humayun Khan was a hero to our country and we should honor all who have made the ultimate sacrifice to keep our country safe. The real problem here are the radical Islamic terrorists who killed him, and the efforts of these radicals to enter our country to do us further harm. Given the state of the world today, we have to know everything about those looking to enter our country, and given the state of chaos in some of these countries, that is impossible. While I feel deeply for the loss of his son, Mr. Khan who has never met me, has no right to stand in front of millions of people and claim I have never read the Constitution, (which is false) and say many other inaccurate things. If I become President, I will make America safe again.
"Further, Hillary Clinton should be held accountable for her central role in destabilizing the Middle East. She voted to send the United States to war against Iraq, helped lead the disastrous withdrawal of American troops years later that created the vacuum allowing the rise of ISIS, and has never met a regime change she didn’t like (which have all been disasters) – not to mention her invasion of Libya and her abandonment of American personnel in Benghazi. The loss of these lives in Libya is directly traceable to Clinton, but their families' testimonials were rejected by the media.
Clinton’s actions have been reckless and have directly led to the loss of American lives. And her extreme immigration policies, as also laid out by American victims in Cleveland, will cause the preventable deaths of countless more -- while putting all residents, from all places, at greater risk of terrorism.
As Bernie Sanders said on numerous occasions, Hillary Clinton suffers from "bad judgement." She is not qualified to serve as Commander in Chief.”– Donald J. Trump
In this particular case, Trump actually does have a point by pointing out the obvious, namely that it was Hillary's voting for the Iraq war, and the US Dept of State's ruinous involvement in the Middle East over the past 6 years, that has precipiated the current geopolitical fallout, which incidentally threatens the political clout of none other than the most important person in Europe, Angela Merkel, who has seen her popularity tumble as a result of Germany's "open door" immigration policy, which has resulted in a surge in refugee-driven violence acros the continent.
Hillary Clinton should be held accountable for her central role in destabilizing the Middle East. She voted to send the United States to war against Iraq, helped lead the disastrous withdrawal of American troops years later that created the vacuum allowing the rise of ISIS, and has never met a regime change she didn’t like (which have all been disasters) – not to mention her invasion of Libya and her abandonment of American personnel in Benghazi. The loss of these lives in Libya is directly traceable to Clinton, but their families' testimonials were rejected by the media.
For now, however, the media has its hands full not with looking into Trump's allegations of Hillary's culpability involving the unstable Middle East region, but with the ongoing back and forth between Trump and Khan which generates a far more instant and visceral response, does not require knowledge of geopolitics and is generally easier on ad clicks, in what will likely dominate the headlines and prime time slots, at least until the next scandal involving Trump (or perhaps his wife) unveils itself, and resets the Trump-intensive news cycle, one which continues to keep Hillary as far from the spotlight as she wants. What is most ironic in all this, is that Trump is more than eager to provide the media with all the fodder it needs with every new statement he makes.