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Veterans Groups Outraged At Trump Comments About The Khan Family

After Donald Trump attacked the family of a fallen Muslim army captain, veterans’ groups from across the political spectrum are pushing back.

Paul Ethan, the managing director of the Vet Voice Foundation—a non-profit that looks to promote political activity among military veterans—said in an interview with The National Memo that Trump’s behavior was “stunning.”

Following a speech from Khizr Khan on the final night of the Democratic National Convention, the Republican candidate suggested that his wife Ghazala was not allowed to speak at the convention because of her religion and compared the family’s sacrifice to his own as a businessman.

“I’m stunned that this guy would behave so badly to a wonderful family and parents of an American hero,” said Ethan, who—having lost his father in the Vietnam War—is a Gold Star family member himself. “It’s tough to find words to describe how appalling a human being Trump is.”

Alexander McCoy, an organizer with Vets vs Hate—a grassroots network of veterans organizing rallies against the GOP candidate’s bigotry—said that Trump’s comments suggest a dangerous reality for his potential presidency.

“When I see the Khan family, I picture my own parents, and that’s what the other veterans I know do as well,” he said in an interview with The National Memo. “Should one of us have been killed overseas, the idea that the president of the United States would show disrespect or slander or attack our parents, no matter what they have to say, is fundamentally unacceptable.”

After rallies at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland and in Colorado, Vets vs Hate organized a protest outside Trump Tower in New York City on Monday with Muslim leaders as well as other faith leaders from the area.

“We wanted to empower the voices of Muslims and Muslim women, who Trump has attacked and spread stereotypes about how they’re supposedly silent,” he said.

While Trump has in the past attempted to frame himself as a candidate that works for veterans specifically, both Ethan and McCoy pointed out that his record as well as his stated policy beliefs don’t show this same level of support.

Ethan said that by advocating for illegal practices—such as the use of torture or killing after the families of enemies–Trump is creating a “real problem” in which active duty members and veterans will be tested on their oath if asked to perform illegal activities.

“The military is going to obey the Constitution,” he said. “They take an oath to obey the constitution, not the president of the United States.”

And according to McCoy, many of Trump’s proposed veterans policies—such as privatizing the Department of Veterans Affairs—are opposed by a majority of even Republican veterans, while solutions such as a phone hotline are already in place.

“This is the latest in a long series of incidents of Donald Trump trying to use veterans as political props and lashing out when they refuse to be exploited,” McCoy said.

Indeed, after Trump backed out of a Republican debate in order to attend a veterans fundraiser, Vets vs Hate organized rallies to hold the GOP candidate accountable when it was revealed that he hadn’t even followed through on his promise to donate the money.

Looking forward, he said that Trump’s comments on Khan may push voters away.

“He must be so focused on himself that he lacks the fundamental empathy required to be a president,” McCoy said. “Voters are seeing his true colors in a way that is especially clear now but has been especially clear before too.”

For his part, Ethan—who has voted for candidates on either side of the aisle in the past—suggested that the outrage that Trump’s recent comments have inspired will continue to November.

“We have the emotion of the moment right now,” Ethan said. “The motion must carry forward to a real messaging effort that Mr. Trump’s statements are unacceptable, that they run counter to the values that we hold dear in the military and in the United States.”

 

Photo: Republican U.S. Presidential nominee Donald Trump attends a campaign event at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio August 1, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

#EndorseThis: Morning Joe: Trump Will ‘Never Win A Fight With A Gold Star Family’

Today on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, panelists and host Joe Scarborough excoriated Donald Trump for his remarks against Gold Star parents Khizr and Ghazala Khan, whose son, U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan, was killed by a suicide bomber in 2004 in Iraq.

“When you’re in a hole, stop digging,” said panelist Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations. “And this is not just digging with a small shovel. This is digging with one of those big earth movers.”

While other commentators and politicians have criticized Trump’s comments as highly disrespectful, the Morning Joe panelists added that what he was doing was just plain dumb.

The two bereaved parents first appeared publicly at the Democratic National Convention last Thursday, where Khizr held up a pocket copy of the Constitution as his wife stood next to him. “Let me ask you: Have you even read the US Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy,” he said. “In this document, look for the words ‘liberty’ and ‘equal protection of law.”

Trump responded by pointing to Ghazala Khan’s silence in interviews with the New York Times’s Maureen Dowd and ABC News’ George Stephanopolous, suggesting that she was not allowed to speak because of her Muslim faith. Ghazala Khan quickly responded by appearing on The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell on Friday, explaining that she had been unable to speak because the sight of her son’s photograph made her too emotional.

Ghazala Khan then published an op-ed in Sunday’s Washington Post. Referencing Trump’s ABC interview, where he claimed that his business and construction experience had involved him making many sacrifices, she wrote, “Donald Trump said he has made a lot of sacrifices. He doesn’t know what the word sacrifice means.”

A queue of veterans’ families, Democrats, and Republicans have criticized Trump since his remarks. This morning, Sen. John McCain released a harshly-worded statement condemning Trump’s remarks. Other groups, like the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the left-leaning VoteVets.org have published statements rebuking Trump. And Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Trump’s running mate, has been rushing to clean up the mess.

But the Morning Joe crew is right. Apart from the issues of morality and respect for American troops and their families regardless of religion, Trump’s bizarre determination to continue responding to the Khan storyline is an asinine campaign strategy. There is no winning battle against Gold Star families, because the sacrifices that they have made are unimaginable, and because of the respect that they have (and deserve) from Americans (just look at the high-profile speaking slots given to veterans who do not hold political office in both parties’ conventions). And Trump’s actions over the past few days only fortify the Clinton campaign’s narrative that he is temperamentally unfit to be president.

Photo: YouTube/CNN

Watch: John Oliver Blasts Trump’s ‘Damaged, Sociopathic’ Comments On The Khan Family

Calling Donald Trump a “self-serving half-man,” John Oliver slammed the Republican nominee for his comments regarding Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the Muslim military parents who appeared during the final night of the Democratic convention.

Sunday’s episode of Last Week Tonight Oliver juxtaposed a clip from Khizr Khan’s speech with a recent Trump interview, in which The Donald suggested that the Khans’ loss of their army captain son was akin to his efforts building skyscrapers.

“We may be on the brink of electing such a damaged, sociopathic narcissist that the simple presidential duty of comforting the families of fallen soldiers may actually be beyond his capabilities,” Oliver said of Trump.

The GOP candidate has been drawing serious criticism after an interview with George Stephanopoulos this weekend (included in Oliver’s show), during which he suggested that Ghazala Khan was not allowed to speak because of her religion.

That particular comment led Oliver to wonder if Trump would even be able to comfort the families of fallen soldiers—even though the late-night host “genuinely did not think that was part of the job that someone could be bad at.”

Watch the full clip below:

Photo: Screenshot via YouTube