The Moment that Defeated Donald Trump

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When Ghazala and Khizr Khan stood before the Democratic National Convention, when Mr. Khan said to Donald Trump: “You have sacrificed nothing and no one”, he defeated the Trump campaign. The words reverberated through the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia and through millions of television screens across the globe with such clarity and truth that while the crowd in the hall cheered everyone watching paused. Everyone knew something important had just happened.
Donald Trump will never be president of the United States of America.
Mr. and Mrs. Khan are the parents of Captain Humayan Khan who was killed in Iraq in 2004. Their son graduated from the University of Virginia in 2000 where he was a member of the Reserve Officer Training Corp. His plan was to leave military service and become a lawyer. However, after 9/11, he decided to stay in the military. While in Iraq, one of his duties was morning inspection of the troops. The day he died, a suicide bomber driving a taxi sped toward his troops. He called for them to hit the ground. He moved forward and was killed when the bomb exploded. His actions saved numerous lives. (
He sacrificed his life for the warriors who he led. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John15:13) His family and friends live with this loss daily. It is a grief so deep that his mother still finds it difficult to speak of him. Her heart aches an unspeakable ache when she sees his picture. Such was the reason for her silence at the convention.
During this campaign, after terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels, the Republican candidates for president seemed to be in a contest over who could be the toughest not only against Daesh – aka ISIS, ISIL, IS – but also against Syrian refugees and Muslim Americans living in the United States. John Cassidy writing in the New Yorker, “Donald Trump and America’s Muslims”, reminds us that after Paris, Jeb Bush wanted to invade Syria. Chris Christie would not allow even children from Syria into the United States. Both Trump and Ted Cruz wanted to increase surveillance of both Muslim communities and mosques. (
Only Trump called for a complete ban of Muslims entering the United States. He said it was a temporary ban until a mysterious we could learn some mysterious information that allowed us to know a mysterious what is going on. He has since modified his position to say he would ban those who come from “terror states.” Again he has not said which states these are.
While there has been so much attention to Trump’s various positions on banning Muslims from coming to the United States, we have forgotten his proposal to create a database of Muslims in the United States. Cassidy quotes Trump saying: “I would certainly implement that. Absolutely.”
This is the context within which Mr. Khan made his remarks. He wanted to remind Trump of the words “liberty” and “equal protection under the law” in the United States Constitution. It is these principles for which his son and so many others have given what Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address called the “last full measure of devotion.”
I say: It is important to remember that Mr. Khan is not the first to remind us that Muslim warriors have fought and died in service to this country. During the 2008 campaign, former Secretary of State and former Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell called attention to this fact when he endorsed Barack Obama. Powell criticized the anti-Muslim rhetoric of the GOP. The idea that Obama was a Muslim and that this somehow disqualified him from the presidency was an ugly aspect of the GOP campaign. Powell said that Obama was not a Muslim but he also asked: “What if he is?” Powell told the story of another Muslim soldier named Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan who died in Iraq at the age of 20. (
So, Donald Trump and his divisive rhetoric did not spring full grown and fully armed from the head of the Republican Party. He is the full grown fully armed result of years of GOP racist and hateful rhetoric that the party leaders have quietly tolerated. In the days since his remarks before the Democratic National Convention, Mr. Khan has called on leaders of the GOP to repudiate Trump. Most who support Trump continue to support him while they try to distance themselves from his comments regarding the Khans.
Trump’s response to the Khans and the craven response by most GOP leaders who continue to endorse Trump for president is beyond the pale of decency. And the truth is not silent. It rings loud and clear and will not be denied.
The idea of blood-shed sacrifice is a difficult thing to contemplate. In all honesty, I am suspicious of any entity that requires killing and dying. Only idols require blood. I believe that we all ought to be living sacrifices wholly and acceptable to God who is Love. (Romans 12:1) This is in contrast to actions that evince a narcissistic will-to-power. And when we think about those who have died in the service of this nation or for the sake of witness for any righteous cause, we have to think beyond the blood to the love. It was Captain Khan’s love for his country and for his fellow warriors that motivated his sacrifice. It was the love that Mr. and Mrs. Khan have for their son and for their country that motivated them to speak up against Trump and his divisive rhetoric. This is what radical love looks like. This is how it behaves.
Radical love is powerful enough to defeat a vile and dangerous campaign for president. It is imperative to remember that politicians hold power in trust. We the People take our power back on Election Day. We decide which candidates and which values will govern our nation. Now all that is left to do is to vote for our love our hope and our vision for a more perfect United States of America.
Valerie Elverton Dixon is founder of and author of “Just Peace Theory Book One: Spiritual Morality, Radical Love, and the Public Conversation”