Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump can hardly be faulted for wanting to respond to the sharp attacks directed his way at the Democratic National Convention by the father of a Muslim U. S. Army officer, Captain Humayun Khan, an American hero killed in Iraq while trying to save some of his men.
Yet it is also clear that Mr. Trump could have chosen a more appropriate way of doing so. To be sure, he did not resort to out-and-out invective but, as we note below, what he did come up with sounded like a two-part non-sequitur.
Be that as it may, it would be a mistake to allow the media frenzy that followed to deflect attention from what should be a sober discussion of Mr. Trump’s proposed policy of temporarily barring Muslim immigration in order to keep out the small percentage of terrorists expected to sneak in with the flow.
It was to discredit that position that Mr. Khan was invited by the Democratic National Committee to address the convention in the first place.
Here, in part, is what Mr. Khan told the Democratic conventioneers:
If it was up to Donald Trump, he [Captain Khan] never would have been in America. 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: 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. In this document, look for the words “liberty” and “equal protection of law.”
Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery? 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.
The immediate response from Mr. Trump was as odd as it was mystifying. Thus, he made note of the fact that Mr. Khan’s wife, Ghazala, Captain Khan’s mother, stood by her husband as he delivered his remarks but said nothing: “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.”
Regarding Mr. Khan’s statement that Mr. Trump “sacrificed nothing or no one,” Mr. Trump insisted he had made “a lot of sacrifices,” elaborating that he had “created thousands and thousands of jobs” and “built great structures.”
As noted above, lost in all of this is the issue of putting a temporary stop to Muslim immigration in order to keep out any terrorists who might be among them. And with all respect, we suggest Mr. Khan’s remarks clarified nothing in that regard.
For one thing, we understand the Trump position as acknowledging that while a temporary ban means potential patriots like Captain Khan would never make it into the country – to our detriment, to be sure – such a loss would be in pursuance of an overall policy of keeping terrorists out.
Moreover, Mr. Khan, a Harvard-trained lawyer, is just wrong about the constitutional imperatives he invoked, since Mr. Trump’s plan, whatever its merits or demerits, is not outside the American experience.
Thus, in a 1977 opinion, the Supreme Court acknowledged that “In the exercise of its broad power over immigration and naturalization, Congress regularly makes rules that would be unacceptable if applied to citizens.”
An 1899 decision upheld the exclusion of Chinese laborers based upon their nationality in a “Chinese Exclusion” case and has never been overturned. The Supreme Court also has never invalidated immigration classifications, even ones based on race.Editorial Board