There are approximately 100 days left before the U.S. votes to elect its new leader. However, the Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, already infamous for handling criticism disgracefully with sardonic and racist comments, has again found himself embroiled in a new controversy. This time the bone of contention centers on an elderly American Muslim couple. Khizr Khan and his wife Ghazala became fresh victims of Trump’s jabs for speaking against his anti-immigration policies at the Democratic National Convention (DNC), on Thursday, July 28, 2016.
The seeds of controversy were sown when Khan, whose wife mostly remained silent on-stage, addressed a large gathering at the formal event. He launched a scathing attack on Trump and his proposal to temporarily ban Muslim immigration into the U.S., openly denouncing it as a sheer violation of the First Amendment, which protects the free exercise of religion, as reported by Vox. Khan also lashed out at Trump for supposedly having a poor knowledge of the U.S. Constitution, claiming that he has not read the fundamental law of his country. Khan even pulled out a copy of the important document, to back up his claim, according to CNN. He labeled the businessman turned politician’s mindset as tendentious and ridiculed his policies for riding high on divisive politics and being totally anti-constitutional, as they promote discrimination against certain sections of the society. Citing the example of his martyr soldier son, the late U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan, who was killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq in 2004, a bereaved Khan stated that Trump has “sacrificed nothing and no one,” as reported by CNN. Thereby, subtly questioning the GOP nominee and his intentions to make America great again without making sacrifices.
However, this initially one-sided remark morphed into a full-blown public dispute and became a talking point both within and outside the Republican Party due to the rebuttal that Trump resorted to over the weekend. Unfortunately, it is the nature of his reactions elicited both through personal interviews, and tweets that cast doubt on Trump and his plans to make America great again without making sacrifices. Several reasons exist.
First, according to CNN, Trump was not required to respond in the first place. Irrespective of the degree of veracity or dishonesty in Khan’s remarks, they were coming from someone who is not Trump’s competitor in this race to the White House. Hence, the GOP nominee would have been better off by choosing to remain silent. By reacting to Khan’s speech, Trump deprived himself of the opportunity to clean-up his already tarnished public image laced with the perception of being a callous and a racist leader. Since, politics and public image influence each other.
This revelation was made in a recent study conducted by the University of Oxford, which found that the public image or perception of the party leader plays a crucial role in building his/her voter-base. Here, it is worth mentioning that Khan, who may or may not be right about Trump, was definitely not wrong when he highlighted the absence of two key traits, “a moral compass and empathy.” Qualities that a presidential candidate or any aspiring leader should possess, according to CNN. However, the GOP presidential nominee fails to understand this. Despite being a successful businessman, he could not read between the lines and empathize or at least pretend to have empathy for the bereaved father. Khan’s speech seemed to have traces of pain over the loss of his son and an alleged lack of recognition by Trump regarding the same. As he tried correlating them with Trump’s Muslim-unfriendly immigration policies that could also culminate into a possible ousting of his community members from the country, let alone entirely banning their entry if Trump comes to power. It is this threat that caused Khan and his supporters to be skeptical of Trump’s ability to make America great again without understanding sacrifices, much less making them.
Second, Trump became so provoked with Khan’s speech that he reacted with equal vindictiveness. His attacks were mixed with shades of immaturity and “stereotyping against Khan’s Muslim family,” as reported by CNN.
According to Red State, while listing the sacrifices he has made for his country, the GOP nominee appeared vacuous when he mindlessly attempted to equate his business challenges and the accomplishments made after overcoming them with the loss of Khan’s deceased son’s life, labeling both as sacrifices.
Further, when observing the continued silence of Khan’s wife throughout her husband’s speech, the loud-mouthed politician deemed it unfair. He indirectly referred to it as an example of subjugation of women’s rights to speak against any injustice among the Muslims, thus, attempting to portray them and their religion Islam in a poor light. Such an attitude is dangerous. It tries cutting into the very fabric of greatness of a country that prides itself on the principles of liberty and freedom of religion, speech, press, or anything else, granted by its Constitution, according to both the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan. Consequently, it sends out conflicting signals regarding his mental preparedness to handle such a coveted position. Thus, making the audience ask themselves, how would he make America great again without being able to define sacrifices, and differentiate them from overcoming business challenges?
Although Trump has successfully managed to win the primaries and is only a little more than three months away from the final elections, he should remember that both politics and public image exist together, and the latter is the steering-wheel to sway the vote-bank in any direction, at the blink if an eye. Moreover, Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” is both an asset and a liability. Since, on one hand, it is directly borrowed from the U.S. Constitution and therefore appears realistic and full of hope to the American citizens waiting to welcome their new president. However, it also suffers the risk of inflating people’s expectations to unrealistic levels, which if unmet, might cause disenchantment and disappointment. This may also end up hurting Trump’s public image. Thus, putting together the pieces of information mentioned above suggests that the flamboyant business person, before anything else, needs to come out of the entrepreneurial mode and start behaving like a politician. For this he needs to follow his country’s Constitution strictly by syncing his thoughts, words, and actions so that the public does not have to ask, can Trump make America great again without making sacrifices?
Opinion by Bashar Saajid
Edited by Cathy Milne
CNN Politics: Did Trump go too far?
CNN Politics: Khizr Khan: Trump has a ‘black soul’
Vox: Donald Trump proves he hasn’t read the Constitution in statement claiming he has
University of Oxford: Study shows how the public image of party leaders could still sway who we vote for
RedState: You Will Not Believe What Trump Said About How He Has Sacrificed For His Country
THE DAILY SIGNAL: Supreme Court Justice Scalia: Constitution, Not Bill of Rights, Makes Us Free
All Images Courtesy of Gage Skidmore’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License