Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has been mired in controversy surrounding his comments about Captain Humayun Khan, a Muslim-American who died while serving in the U.S. Army. The real estate mogul's feud with the Khan family has people on both sides of the aisle speaking out, but will this divide mark a turning point in Trump's journey to the White House?
Khan was killed in Iraq in 2004, when a suspicious vehicle he was inspecting exploded. He had told the remainder of his troops to step back from the vehicle, which saved their lives; Khan was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. Khan's parents took the stage at this year's Democratic National Convention to speak out against Trump's controversial proposal to temporarily ban Muslim immigration to the U.S. Khan's father, Khizr Khan, waved his pocket-sized copy of the U.S. Constitution and told Trump, “You have sacrificed nothing and no one.”
As Khizr spoke, I felt proud. I'm a Navy veteran and even though I don't identify as a Democrat, I live in a country where every person has a voice. When Trump espoused beliefs that Captain Humayun Khan shouldn't have been in this country let alone serve it, most families would have felt wronged but might not have spoken out. Mr. and Mrs. Khan demonstrated that they were true Americans by honoring their son and standing up for something they believed in.
Mr. Khan, who does not know me, viciously attacked me from the stage of the DNC and is now all over T.V. doing the same - Nice!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 1, 2016
Trump responded to Khizr's speech by noting that his wife Ghazala said nothing, implying that she was silenced due to their Muslim faith. In a slam to Gold Star military families everywhere, Trump suggested that he has made equal sacrifices, saying "I think I've made a lot of sacrifices ... I work very, very hard." There was no shortage of Gold and Blue Star military families speaking out against the billionaire's remarks.
U.S. President Barack Obama slammed Trump on Monday, saying, “No one—no one—has given more for our freedom and security than our Gold Star families. They represent the very best of our country. They continue to inspire us every day and every moment. They serve as a reminder of the true strength of America.” He added that we must “do everything that we can for those families and honor them and be humbled by them.” Even Trump's vice-presidential running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence responded in a Facebook statement: “Donald Trump and I believe that Captain Humayun Khan is an American hero and his family, like all Gold Star families, should be cherished by every American.”
But the real mic-drop response goes to veterans and their family members. In a statement on Monday, Blue Star Families said:
Regardless of religion, race, or creed, their sacrifice, the loss of a family member is unimaginable. Their loved one's body is laid to rest under the American flag, in our national cemeteries, and their death is honored and remembered each Memorial Day by a nation grateful for their service ... As with so many families across the United States, the loss and sacrifice of the Khan family has earned them the right to ask hard questions of all those seeking elected office, whether at the local, state, or national level.
Blue Star Families spokesperson Bana Miller told Complex, “If there is one issue we should all stand united, it is for our military and their families.”
With all of Trump's past missteps, it's hard to say if this will evoke enough of a reaction to change the tide of his campaign. When the former reality star disrespected POWs by saying he liked "people who weren't captured," Ben Schreckinger of Politico wrote, “Donald Trump may have finally crossed the line.” It's been almost an entire year since, and that line has been crossed, moved, and crossed several more times. Now that Trump has done the unthinkable by insulting a fallen war hero and his family (plus an entire religion), Americans seem to be looking to third-party candidates like Libertarian Gary Johnson. Support for Johnson is surging in the polls, and he's shot up from 4.5 percent to 7.2 percent in RealClearPolitics polls. Green Party candidate Jill Stein also saw an increase from 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent since the Trump/Khan controversy.
Regardless of which candidate we're voting for come November, we can all agree on two things: that Trump's behavior is not only repugnant, but it is also un-American and unbecoming of someone who wants to be the next President of the United States.