The Non Sequitur of Khazir Khan

in Politics

 Donald Trump is doomed.

This, at any rate, is what we are expected to believe given his latest skirmish, a media-created dustup with Khazir Khan.  The latter is a Muslim transplant to America, a lawyer who specializes in Islamic immigration, and the father of a son who was killed while on a combat mission in Iraq back in 2004.

Khan initiated this altercation with Trump when, while speaking at the Democratic National Convention last week, he accused Trump of both ignorance of the Constitution as well as a lack of patriotism, a life-long unwillingness to make “sacrifices.”

Trump, daring to come to his own defense, noted that he has indeed sacrificed much in risking his resources to both create tens of thousands of jobs as well as a comparable number of services for people both here and around the world. Yet he also insinuated that Khan’s wife—who stood silently by his side in Philly adorned in a head scarf—typified the female oppression that so many Westerners associate with Islam.

Well, that’s the final straw.  For the 2,743rd time since last summer, all of the “experts” in both the “mainstream” and “conservative” media are once again assuring us that Trump’s goose is cooked, for now he’s gone and attacked the father of a war “hero.”

What a load—all of it.

This is political theater at its absolute best (or worst). And it’s rich with hypocrisy.

First, whether the stories regarding Khan’s affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood and the like are true, it is the case that he is both professionally and thus materially invested in facilitating Islamic immigration to the United States.

That is, Khan is invested in seeing to it that Trump’s proposed ban on immigration from terrorist hot-spots never sees the light of day.

Hence, unlike—radically unlike—those non-politicians who spoke at the GOP convention (Pat Smith, a Gold Star mother whose son was left to die in Benghazi, and the black and white parents of children who had been murdered by illegal immigrants) Khan wasn’t looking for answers from politicians whose policies resulted in the loss of his son’s life.

Unlike the speakers at the RNC, Khan wasn’t in search of a change of course that would spare other parents the pain that he and his wife have had to suffer.

Khan, rather, was motivated first and foremost to insure that the stream of Muslim immigration to the United States would continue to flow—and so he personally insulted the one person who threatened to frustrate his desires.

Second, it is precisely this profound distinction between him and the grieving parents who addressed the RNC that reveals just how “politically motivated,” in the worse sense of this term, Khan has been.

To repeat:

Khan is not looking to hold accountable the politicians whose policies resulted in his son’s death.

He is not speaking out for a dramatic change in America’s foreign policy.

But it’s even worse than this. And this brings us to our third point:

Not only is Khan refraining from criticizing the likes of Hillary Clinton, a politician who voted to authorize President George W. Bush to deploy his son to die in Iraq, but his presence at the DNC can only be taken as an endorsement of Clinton.

Khan’s blatant political posturing becomes that much more obvious once it is recognized that the one candidate who rejected from very early on Congress’ decision to authorize the war that took his son’s life is the same candidate who he is now blasting.

Fourth, even more so than Khan, the Democrats’ politicking on this score is truly shameless, for over the span of at least the last twelve years, they have been insisting—and, unsurprisingly, at no time more so than when Republicans still retained control over Congress and the White House—that the Iraq War was both immoral and illegal.

But now they praise Khan’s son for being a “hero,” someone who made the ultimate “sacrifice” in order to keep America safe and free.

Morally, even logically, this assessment of Khan’s son—and, by implication, of every other soldier who participated in that immoral and illegal enterprise—is incompatible with this assessment of the war.  If the war was immoral and illegal, then it couldn’t have been necessary to “defend our way of life,” and those who waged it, far from being “heroes,” could only be reprobates and criminals.

Or, conversely, if the war in Iraq was necessary to defend America and soldiers like Khan’s son were heroes, then the war was good and just and the President who launched that war—George W. Bush—was also a hero.  I very much doubt, though, that either Khan—who I don’t recall having seen at the RNC of ’04—or anyone else in attendance in Philly would agree with the latter judgment.

Fifth, in spite of the ease with which he waved it around, Khan does not know the Constitution, for if he did, he would know that there is nothing in the least unconstitutional about the American government shaping the country’s immigration policy in whichever way or ways it deems fit.  Moreover, he would also know that while the Constitution delineates formal rules for immigration, it doesn’t require immigration at all.     

Since immigration is not an entitlement, the government no more acts unconstitutionally in discriminating between those who it will permit to immigrate and those who it will not than it acts unconstitutionally in discriminating between those countries with which it will to go war and those that it will not.

And since immigration is not an entitlement, the government no more acts unconstitutionally in banning all immigration than it acts unconstitutionally in refusing to go to war (unless, of course, doing so is necessary to provide for the “common defense”).

Finally, ultimately, Khan is a non sequitur.  The fact that there are Muslim Americans who have fought against Muslims in the Middle East is undeniable, and among these, a small (actually, a very small) number have been killed.  Far greater numbers of Americans, both civilians and soldiers, have been killed right here at home by Muslims, both foreign and American born.

That there are doubtless decent Muslim immigrants doesn’t negate the fact that there are doubtless indecent immigrants.  Furthermore, neither consideration speaks to Trump’s call for a temporary ban on immigration from those countries—and only those countries—that are bastions of terrorism.

Jack Kerwick received his doctoral degree in philosophy from Temple University. His area of specialization is ethics and political philosophy. He is a professor of philosophy at several colleges and universities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

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