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Abdus Sattar Ghazali

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August 16, 2016

Trump and the Khan`s: Goliath/David

By Arthur Kane Scott

One of the most fascinating aspects of the 2016 Presidential election has been the centrality of Muslim Americans. Donald Trump launched his nativist presidential campaign by denigrating Muslims as being inherently terroristic,who, accordingly to him, should not only be banned from entering America, but closely scrutinized and ultimately deported.

Trump’s emotional rhetoric has been central tohis campaign of fear: that America is involved in a life/death struggle for civilization with Islam. It carried him through the primaries, and into the Republican Party Convention, where he was chosen their Presidential nominee. Trump’s hyperbole, whether directed at Blacks, Latinos, women, and disabled, never before stuck or damaged his campaign. He lived a charmed existence until the Democratic National Convention.

At Philadelphia, Khizr Khan and his wife, Ghazala Khan, were invited to speak about the heroic sacrifice of their Pakistani son, Humayan Khan, who died in 2004 in Iraq attempting to save his military colleagues. Humayan Khan for his heroism received the “Gold Star.”

His father, Khizr, mysteriously came out of nowhere, and made a most telling 287-wordspeechwhich stopped the Trump juggernaut. It was indeed a David /Goliath moment.

Khizr/GhazalKhan’s humble speech emphasized these major points:

  • Patriotism of American Muslims and their love of country
  • Trump’s denigration of minorities
  • Unpreparedness’ of Trump by asking dramatically “have you ever read the U, S. Constitution?”
  • Dramatically pulling out his copy with the admonishment, “I will gladly lend you my copy.”
  • Highlighting key American values: “liberty and equal protection of laws.”
  • Urging Trump to go to Arlington where “you will see all faiths, genders and ethnicities.”
  • His crescendo came with the statements: “You have sacrificed nothing and no one.” We can’t solve our problems by building walls and sowing division.”

Ironically, the Goliath Trump, rather than being gracious to a “Gold Star” family, criticized Mrs. Khan the next day for being reticent during her husband`s critique implying that she was an example of how Islam oppressed women. Her response like all mothers was that the very thought of her sons’ death brought tears to her eyes. As she expressed it:“It has been 12 years, but you know hearts of pain can never heal as long as we live. Just talking about it is hard for me all the time. Every day, whenever I pray, I have to pray for him, and I cry. The place that emptied will always be empty.”

Their courageous remarks should inspire American Muslims to stand-up to the bigotry of Donald Trump,to reaffirm the peacefulessence of Islam, and the importance of Muslim communitiesto the American democratic ethos of diversity. Similarly,it should spur all Americans to rally behind the human values reaffirmed by the Khans`- as central to our democracy.

In closing, when the election of 2016 has passed, historians will reflect upon the Khan speech as one of those unexpected critical events that dramatically reshaped the political landscape and returned America to a cultural of sanity and to its democraticroots. To the principle that Maya Angelou affirms in her Human Family: “But we are more alike my friend, than we are unlike.”

Arthur Kane Scott is Professor of Humanities and Cultural Studies at the Dominican University of California and Fellow of American Institute of International Studies.