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A Gold Star Father Rebukes Donald Trump

Khizr Khan

Perhaps the highest impact moment of last night’s final night of the Democratic National Convention came not when one of the politicians spoke, not when Chelsea Clinton spoke to introduce her mother, and not when Hillary Clinton herself spoke at the end of her night, but when the parents of a young man who died serving his country in Iraq took to the stage

Donald Trump was speaking at an event in Iowa, complaining that America was not allowed to waterboard terrorists, when Khizr Khan and his wife walked up to the microphone at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia.

Khan’s son, Humayun, was a captain in the U.S. Army. When a vehicle packed with explosives approached his compound in Iraq in 2004, he instructed his men to seek cover as he ran toward it. The car exploded, killing Khan instantly. He was awarded the Bronze Star posthumously.

In 2005, The Washington Post interviewed Khizr Khan. “They did not call him Captain Khan,” he said of the men his son led. “They called him ‘our captain.’ ”

“We are honored to stand here as the parents of Capt. Humayun Khan,” the elder Khan said at the Democratic convention, “and as patriotic American Muslims with undivided loyalty to our country.” He spoke of his son’s dreams of becoming a military lawyer and how Hillary Clinton had referred to his son as “the best of America.”

Khan spoke proudly of his son’s service and the fact that he gave up the relatively safe job of training to become a military lawyer to serve on the front lines in a controversial war, but then he brought the house down when he turned his attention to the Republican nominee:

“If it was up to Donald Trump, [Humayun] never would have been in America,” Khan said. “Donald Trump consistently smears the character of Muslims. He disrespects other minorities, women, judges, even his own party leadership. He vows to build walls and ban us from this country.

“Donald Trump,” he said, “you are asking Americans to trust you with our future. Let me ask you: Have you even read the U.S. Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy.” He pulled a copy of the Constitution from his pocket. “In this document, look for the words ‘liberty’ and ‘equal protection of law.’ ” Earlier this month, Trump promised congressional Republicans that he would defend “Article XII” of the Constitution, which doesn’t exist.

“Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery?” Khan said. “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.”

It was a powerful moment, and a unique one that could not have happened in any other election year because, of course, we’ve never before had an election where a major party nominee is running on the idea of excluding people of an entire religion from even coming to this country. In Donald Trump’s America, Khizr Khan and his wife never would have had the opportunity to come to the United States in the 1970s, where Mr. Khan became a success in his own right and raised three children, all of whom were accepted for attendance at the University of Virginia. In Donald Trump’s America, Captain Khan never would have had the chance to serve his country, and he never would have had the chance to die saving his fellow soldiers from the car bomb that came speeding toward the checkpoint he was manning in June 2004, giving his own life to save others, In Donald Trump’s America, the Khan’s would be seen as enemies rather than potential citizens who contributed to their adopted nation. All of that makes this Gold Star Father’s rebuke of Trump’s  all the more powerful, and turns it into something that Trump can’t simply dismiss with a sarcastic tweet or speech. Captain Khan and his father show us what America is really all about. Donald Trump shows us the dark side of what America could become if the rhetoric he engages in becomes part of the mainstream of American politics, As the election moves forward, one can only hope that there are more Captain Khan’s than there are Donald Trump’s.

Here’s video of Mr Khan’s speech last night:

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Andrew says:

    If you are into that whole breviety thing…

    Khizr Khan in three seconds.

    “Mr. Trump, you are a punk b!tch.”

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  2. grumpy realist says:

    Bravo. For that speech, and for your commentary.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. al-Alameda says:

    Doug, I could not agree more (Like +100)

    General John Allen’s address was also right on the mark.

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  4. Moosebreath says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Seconded.

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  5. JWh says:

    I swear, Gen. Allen must have walked in from Central Casting.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. Mister Bluster says:

    Donald Trump shows us the dark side of what America could become if the rhetoric he engages it becomes part of the mainstream of American politics.

    Citizen Trump and his lackeys on how to run a campaign for President USA.

    “I was gonna hit one guy in particular, a very little guy,” he said. “I was gonna hit this guy so hard his head would spin and he wouldn’t know what the hell happened.”
    https://gma.yahoo.com/trump-says-wanted-hit-couple-dnc-speakers-hard-234921077–abc-news-topstories.html
    “This whole thing disgusts me, Hillary Clinton should be put in the firing line and shot for treason,” Baldasaro concluded.
    http://elections.gatehousemedia.com/secret-service-launches-investigation-trump-adviser-says-clinton-shot-treason/?sitename=dailyrepublicannews?rssfeed=true

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  7. Pch101 says:

    I’m sure Jenos will be here shortly to explain why we should be terrified of people like this.

    Obviously, when they came up with that home of the brave stuff, they weren’t referring to Jenos or his bosom buddy Donald “Watch Me Bend Over for Vladimir Putin” Trump.

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  8. cian says:

    And yet his numbers are high and it is likely the result will remain too close to call right to the end. As others have said here, the problem is not Trump, it is the number of Americans who continue to support him. We’ve had months of the most appalling statements coming from this man; months and months of being shown just what an incompetent he is, and we’ve heard from those he has cheated, those he has bullied, and whose livelihoods he has destroyed, and still his numbers climb. Sick as he is, there is something sicker at work in the country and no matter what happens in November, it’s not going away any time soon.

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  9. Jen says:

    Thank you for writing this piece. I’ve watched Mr. Khan’s speech twice now, and even thinking about it brings me to tears.

    This was an important speech, and an important moment. Again, thank you for highlighting it. This is who we are.

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  10. Pch101 says:

    @cian:

    In the old days, if you wanted to vote for a segregationist politician, then it was pretty easy — segregation was the norm and nobody was going to do much to get rid of it, so you didn’t need to worry about it.

    Now that legal segregation is dead, it is necessary for voters to actively seek out candidates who are committed to turning back the clock. If this was the 1920s, Trump would be your run-of-the-mill Dixiecrat, not an anomaly.

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  11. CSK says:

    @cian:

    You have to remember that all of Trump’s most grotesque shortcomings–his total ignorance of foreign and domestic policy, his xenophobia, his misogyny, his racism–are, for the Trumpkins, features, not bugs. They love the fact that he’s a loudmouthed buffoon; it proves to them he’s strong and plainspoken.

    In other words, he’s a guy who’s made a career of–and taken exquisitely sadistic pleasure in–crushing and bankrupting people just like his fans.

    They love him precisely because he’s appalling. God help us.

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  12. grumpy realist says:

    @CSK: Trump has done what they would have liked to do, had they the power.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. MBunge says:

    It’s a powerful speech undermined by one simple and undeniable fact.

    Donald Trump did not get his son killed. Donald Trump did not get thousands of other American sons and daughters and hundreds of thousands of non-American sons and daughters killed. The people in politics responsible for that are the people now telling us Donald Trump is unfit for the Presidency.

    They’re pretty much right, of course. But since they refuse to acknowledge why the public doesn’t care what they have to say anymore, it might not matter.

    Mike

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  14. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @MBunge:

    The people in politics responsible for that (death of his son) are the people now telling us Donald Trump is unfit for the Presidency.

    Of course you would be referring to Bernie Sanders, right?

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  15. bookdragon says:

    This was so moving. I’m glad to see it is being highlighted so many places today too, especially since Fox cut away from the Khans and didn’t show any of it.

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  16. gVOR08 says:

    @cian:

    there is something sicker at work in the country and no matter what happens in November, it’s not going away any time soon.

    At least Ailes is partly going away. But I don’t know what to do about the rest of the people who live off and breed this dystopic alternate universe. Which includes a lot of “mainstream” Republican politicians.

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  17. gVOR08 says:

    @MBunge:

    The people in politics responsible for that are the people now telling us Donald Trump is unfit for the Presidency.

    To be clear, that would be W Bush and the Republican establishment.

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  18. CSK says:

    @MBunge:

    But the larger point surely is that this man lost his son, while Trump sacrificed absolutely nothing. He was a draft dodger who referred to his efforts not to contract an STD during the 1970s as his “own personal Vietnam.”

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  19. beth says:

    @MBunge: I’m impressed – if I stretched that far I’d pull a muscle.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. Pch101 says:

    @MBunge:

    Your ability to miss the point is impressive. This can’t just be luck — you’ve obviously received advanced training.

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  21. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    turns it into something that Trump can’t simply dismiss with a sarcastic tweet or speech.

    Explain that to Jenos. Go ahead, we can wait.

    Fox cut away from the Khans and didn’t show any of it.

    Why am I just not surprised at all? “Fair and Balanced–We report [or don’t, as the case may be] You decide.”

    On the other hand, and in defense of Fox News, those commercials for Goldline and D’Sousa’s new movie don’t show themselves.

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  22. Moosebreath says:

    @MBunge:

    “But since they refuse to acknowledge why the public doesn’t care what they have to say anymore, it might not matter.”

    Last time I checked, you did not constitute the entirety of “the public”.

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  23. JKB says:

    This would be more effective if it wasn’t based on a lie. One can make an argument against what Trump said regarding halting Muslim entry into the US, but no one seems to want to deal with the actual statement, which was to stop Muslims entering the US until we could figure out how to vet them for jihadist or, what Democrats won’t say, radical Islamic tendencies.

    Radical Islamic being willing, able and eager to kill to promote and impose radical Islam on others. But, of course, Obama and Hillary, as well as other DemProgs are unwilling to discern between radical (murderous) Islam and Muslims who are adapting their religious beliefs to coexist in the modern world of individual liberty.

    It was a dramatic speech but unfortunately, one based on Democratic party lies about what Trump has said rather than what Trump has actually said.

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  24. Hal_10000 says:

    @MBunge:

    You might have a point … if Trump had not supported the Iraq War, if Trump were not talking about expanding our wars, if Trump were not surrounding himself with the same boneheads who started the war.

    And all of that is kind of irrelevant to the searing point that Khan was making: that Muslims have bled for this country, they have died for this country, they have sacrificed everything to flee tyranny and terror to come to this country, that they are part of the fabric of this country, that they have been a bulwark against terror (discovering the Times Square bomb, among other things).

    Yes, we need to be careful about who is coming into this country. But Trump goes way beyond that. And good for Mr. Khan for smacking him down.

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  25. Hal_10000 says:

    @JKB:

    This is high-test nonsense. The screening we do for refugees and immigrants is extremely thorough. They have to document everything. They are questioned multiple times. Our embassies in foreign countries investigate their stories to the extent that they came. Saying, “we need to stop so we can vet them” when we are already doing so is just Trump being ignorant and his followers promoting that ignorance.

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  26. Neil Hudelson says:

    @JKB:

    but no one seems to want to deal with the actual statement, which was to stop Muslims entering the US until we could figure out how to vet them for jihadist or, what Democrats won’t say, radical Islamic tendencies.

    His actual statement:

    “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on,

    The actual statement calls for an open ended ban on all individuals belonging to a religion, a ban which will only be ended when Donald Trump understands a complex situation.

    You took that statement, modified it to what you wished his statement was, and then told us that we were the ones with comprehension problems.

    one based on Democratic party lies about what Trump has said rather than what Trump has actually said.

    “Lies” = “responding directly to what he said, rather than what JKB wishes he said.”

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  27. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @Neil Hudelson:
    Beat me to it, good for you!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. CSK says:

    @grumpy realist:

    You wrote: “Trump has done what [his supporters] would have liked to do, had they the power.”

    Quite: There’s a very large component of envy/admiration mixed into the regard some of Trump’s male supporters have for him. Trump’s the super-rich (maybe) guy who snaps his fingers and legions of beautiful broads come running! Better still, he knows ya hafta “treat ’em like sh!t.” Politicians? He buys ’em and sells ’em! Some small town newspaper reporter writes a critical article? Trump will beggar him!

    What a man.

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  29. Rafer Janders says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    The actual statement calls for an open ended ban on all individuals belonging to a religion, a ban which will only be ended when Donald Trump understands a complex situation.

    I.e. it will never be ended.

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  30. Mikey says:

    Here’s what conservative gadfly and Trump fangirl Ann Coulter had to say:

    You know what this convention really needed? An angry Muslim with a thick accent like Fareed Zacaria.

    — Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) July 29, 2016

    Stay classy, Republicans!

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  31. Hal_10000 says:

    @Mikey:

    We shouldn’t feed the Peroxide Troll.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  32. Andrew says:

    Thought of the day.

    I find it funny that people do not like liberal leaning bias. Reality has a liberal leaning bias, life etc.
    Humans have a conservative leaning bias as we are at our core frightened animals, only looking out for ourselves. Hence religion, to grasp onto something that gives it meaning to why all the bad happens, and allows people to think they have the answers for life. When in fact there are not any.
    Life does not care what you think. Reality does not care what you think.

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  33. wr says:

    @JKB: “but no one seems to want to deal with the actual statement, which was to stop Muslims entering the US until we could figure out how to vet them for jihadist or, what Democrats won’t say, radical Islamic tendencies.”

    You’d be a lot more impressive calling out people for making statements based on lies if you didn’t then proceed to lie to make your own case. Trump never said anything about figuring out how to vet them for their “tendencies.” Trump said we had to stop all Muslim immigration until “we figure out what’s going on,” which is a completely meaningless statement and can not be defined in any way that suggests an end point.

    What you suggested above at least makes a little bit of literal sense — I doubt it’s possible, since we have no machines that can read minds. But what Trump said is just gibberish, a way of saying keep them out, period.

    So the lesson for today is: If you want to accuse people of lying, try not to use lies in your accusation. Unless you are deliberately trying to make yourself look foolish, which would go a long way to explaining a lot of your posts…

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  34. Paul Hooson says:

    What a powerful moment this was. A religious Muslim family made a strong case for their patriotism and giving s son for this nation. Unlike the mother of a Benghazi victim whose message seemed confused and that her pain was being exploited at the Republican convention, this Muslim’s family message was clear and coherent.

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  35. Tony W says:

    Moved to tears watching this man speak of his son and his experiences. Well done Mr. Khan.

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  36. Pch101 says:

    @wr:

    Look, JKB makes perfectly valid points…if you are a bigot who views the world through bigoted eyes.

    In his universe, Muslims are bad until proven otherwise. They’re all part of a single-celled cabal in which all of them are unified in their deviousness and evil. They must be presumed guilty and treated accordingly.

    This thought process makes perfect sense to a racist. In fact, the racist is astounded that you can’t see the logic. Furthermore, the racist attributes your failure to understand it to some bizarre form of political correctness.

    What guys like him don’t see is that groups that are as large as Islam or any other major faith are not of a unified mind. Most followers of major faiths inherited their religions, then interpret them in ways that suit them, whether for good or for bad. Anyone with a functioning brain stem ought to know that in a group of 1+ billion that not everyone is going to think exactly alike.

    But he can see it that way because he is a bigot. Bigots don’t differentiate among individuals within groups that they don’t like; in his/her/its world, only white Americans are to be judged as individuals.

    Hence, every Muslim has to apologize for every act of terrorism, while JKB and his buddies don’t have to apologize for every white Christian guy who shoots up an abortion clinic or bombs a federal building. The brown dudes with their turbans and funny writing are all alike, while he is a unique individual. This is how stupid operates.

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  37. michael reynolds says:

    It was the kind of genuine, moving moment that makes me ashamed of my ever-so-clever cynical, tactical approach to politics.

    I love moments like that.

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  38. Pylon says:

    @MBunge: The point isn’t “who got their son killed”. It’s that their Muslim family has given more to the US than he can imagine. And if he had his way they’d never have been admitted.

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  39. Mister Bluster says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:..”We report, You decide.

    “We distort, You run and hide!”

    FTFY

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  40. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @JKB: This. I hate when anyone makes strawman arguments. Even against Trump. For what it’s worth, it you monitor Foreign media like I do. ISIS has said they will use the outflow of refugees as a means to infiltrate and establish new sleeper cells. What exactly is the HRCs policy to counter this….other than to bluster on about how silly or unconstitutional Trumps plan is? Are our vetting processes adequate enough to identify anyone ISIS would try to sneak through? This could all go away if the Democrats had an intelligent answer instead of a straw man to counter the Trump bluster.

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  41. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Hal_10000: Oh really? So the State Department is traipsing around Syria and Iraq hunting down last known addresses, interviewing neighbors, piecing together political and religious associations? Please tell me you don’t actually believe that.

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  42. Lit3Bolt says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    Shouldn’t your name be Jim Brown 1488?

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  43. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Neil Hudelson: This statement is akin to what Republicans did with Obama’s “You didn’t build that” statement. The ban had context just like Obama’s statement had a context. In this case, it has always been about refugees.

    @Pch101: Baloney, you have a specific enemy that made threats to exploit the hospitality of nations admitting refugees from territories they control. This is an enemy that has demonstrated ability to carry out threats. And because you dislike the candidate that said the processes is inadequate, it requires no further examination of our policy and procedure. Because it’s Trump, people reject his identification of a problem right out of hand. Forget the Trump solution of a ban. This isn’t a game. ISIS is serious about this. That doesn’t mean we have to stop immigration. It means that we better have double checked our methodology and we make sure the people doing the work aren’t cutting ANY corners. Because if we get it wrong….People are going to die. And Trump will look like a seer.

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  44. Kari Q says:
  45. Matt says:

    @Kari Q: He doesn’t care about the truth. He’s pushing an agenda while trying to pretend to be something else. It’s a distant relative of concern trolling. His attempts to distort and change what Trump said is clear evidence enough.

    For those that might be swayed by the troll’s lies.

    http://time.com/4116619/syrian-refugees-screening-process/

    There’s a reason so few have been resettled here. The whole process is intensive and extensive.

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  46. Matt says:

    Trumps own site says

    Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.

    Muslims entering the USA not Muslim immigrants all Muslims. These are his own words published on his own web page.

    Regardless the point of the speech still stands as the parents of the hero are Muslim immigrants.

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  47. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Pch101:

    Agreed. There are something like 1 billion Muslims in the world. If all of them were terrorists, we’d all be dead already.

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  48. Barry says:

    @MBunge: “Donald Trump did not get his son killed. Donald Trump did not get thousands of other American sons and daughters and hundreds of thousands of non-American sons and daughters killed. The people in politics responsible for that are the people now telling us Donald ”

    He supported the war. The GOP voters supported the war.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  49. Barry says:

    @MBunge: “Donald Trump did not get his son killed. Donald Trump did not get thousands of other American sons and daughters and hundreds of thousands of non-American sons and daughters killed. The people in politics responsible for that are the people now telling us Donald ”

    He supported the war. The GOP voters supported the war.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  50. Barry says:

    @MBunge: halos, please have a friend read the OP to you, so that you understand it.

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  51. PJ says:

    @MBunge:
    Did you vote for Nader in 2000? Did you think that Gore and Bush were the same?
    If so, then you are to blame for the Iraq war.

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  52. Jeremy R says:

    Trump’s finally had some reaction to the Khans’ speech, though unsurprisingly it’s being completely awful.

    On ABC:

    http://www.mediaite.com/tv/trump-questions-whether-muslim-wife-of-khizr-khan-was-allowed-to-speak/

    “If you look at his wife, she was standing there, she had nothing to say. Probably maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say, you tell me, but plenty of people have written that. She was extremely quiet and it looked like she had nothing to say.”

    “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.”

    And to Maureen Dowd:

    http://www.mediaite.com/online/trump-reacts-to-khizr-khan-calling-him-out-in-impassioned-dnc-speech/

    “I’d like to hear his wife say something.”

    Ghazala Khan explained on MSNBC last night that it is hard for her to speak publicly about her son Humayun because any time she thinks about him she is too overcome with emotion.

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  53. CSK says:

    You know, every time I think Trump has reached the outermost limit of buffoonish vulgarity, he confounds me and says/does something even more malevolently clownish than before.

    This time it’s his response to Mr. Khan: Trump says that he too has made great sacrifices–he’s “worked very hard.” Right. Bankrupting casinos is the moral equivalent of giving your life to save your troops.

    It gets worse. He implied heavily that Mrs. Kahn, who accompanied her husband, was prevented from speaking because… well, her husband’s a Muslim and they silence their women.

    Tell me, Donald: Do you muzzle Melania when she stands like a window dummy smiling vacantly on the stage beside you?

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  54. Bob@Youngstown says:

    Trump’s reaction / response to the Khan’s is yet another example of his vile personality.

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  55. wr says:

    @CSK: “Tell me, Donald: Do you muzzle Melania when she stands like a window dummy smiling vacantly on the stage beside you?”

    Melania, hell. What about Chris Christie?

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  56. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Kari Q: Actually I do understand the process. Partly because it’s related to how I make my living. You do realize that most of the process hinges on what the applicant says and cannot be independently verified because of conditions on the ground and our relationship with the Syrian government. I’m sure you also understand that ISIS has a core group of people that have never been rolled by the police or military, so they are not going to show up on any of the cross-checks databases. I asked those questions a out the process from a position of experience…not because I didn’t know.

    Obviously, you don’t understand the weakness of our methodology…or you never would have posted that link…because it doesn’t(and shouldn’t) address them. To be fair, every methodology has weaknesses, the current one could be better. HRC represents them as bulletproof…a lie. Trump represents them as a sieve. Also a lie.

    All that needs to happen is ISIS gets 40 or 50 guys through to launch some attacks and Trump looks prophetic. It doesn’t have to be that way but the Democratic response to Trump is to counter-Demagogue the Demagogue. The odds are in his favor in this case. There will be another attack. The Democrats will be blamed.

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  57. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Lit3Bolt: I guess that’s safer for you then calling me a ni&&3r. I had to look that up by the way….being a black man, I dont keep up with the more subtle, white supremacist dog whistles. Apparently you do. I wonder why?

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  58. An Interested Party says:

    Hmm…so the fear of Muslim terrorists is justifiable enough that this country should enact Trump’s ideas to keep us “safe”…and to see such bigotry supported by someone who is himself a target of bigotry…how sad…

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  59. Dazedandconfused says:

    @Jeremy R:

    A cheap shot at the mother of a fallen soldier is an obscenity beyond all reckoning.

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  60. DrDaveT says:

    @Donald Trump:

    I think I’ve made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard.

    Sorry, Donald. No.

    1. A “sacrifice” is giving up something you don’t want to give up, for a greater purpose that isn’t about you. Not only have you never made any sacrifices, you’ve never done anything at all that wasn’t about you.

    2. When people talk about working hard, they aren’t talking about discretionary things. They’re talking about the work that puts bread on the table and a roof overhead. Hobbies don’t count. You have never had anything in your life that wasn’t a hobby — something you do because you want to, not because you have to.

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