It was one of the most memorable speeches of one of the most memorable conventions of my lifetime.
An American Muslim, Khizr Khan, whose son Capt. Humayun Khan was killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq, excoriated Donald Trump for his bigotry on the campaign trail.
Standing beside his wife Ghazala, Khan pushed back against the narrative that Muslims cannot be patriotic Americans. He took Trump to task for his ethnic cleansing proposals. He even pulled out a copy of his Constitution — something I do in most debates myself — and asked if Trump has ever even read it. (I’ve pulled this move so often in family court hearings I’m starting to wonder if Khizr Khan has been reading the same r/legaladvice posts!)
It was a beautiful, Sorkinesque monologue, one that the bombastic billionaire couldn’t let slide.
Trump lashed out with a fusillade of outrageous ad hominem attacks on the Khan family. He said Khizr had no right to attack him. He suggested Ghazala had been “forbidden” from speaking (she was actually too distraught over the loss of her son). He claimed to have sacrificed as much as the Khans have by being a wealthy property developer. And his allies spread ugly and untrue rumors that Khan is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.
And Mr. Khan just sat back and smiled, knowing that Mr. Trump had proven his point.
One by one Republicans, from Speaker Paul Ryan to vagrant governor John Kasich, disavowed Trump’s insults to the Gold Star mother. In fact, Americans of all parties and races and creeds came together to finally repudiate Trump’s brand of racist invective.
I believe this is a turning point in the campaign. For over a year, just about everyone from Jeb Bush to conservative intellectual “Billiards Fool” to the Fact Friends have been on the receiving end of vicious attacks from Trump and his rabid followers.
Hiding behind their anime avatars and their vile frog images, they call us “cucks.” They insult our wives. They put parentheses around our names even though that’s an incorrect use of punctuation. They Tweet nasty things at us like “fill my hole top kek” and “your round son calls Jake Tapper ‘dad.'”
These Trump supporters are exactly the same as the Bernie Bros, and in most instances are the exact same people.
Because of these nasty trolls and the fear of being beaten up at Trump’s rallies, upright citizens and respected journalists have frankly been too scared to comment publicly about Trump’s dangerous demagoguery. Many of us — particularly in cable news — have chosen to play it safe by giving Trump positive coverage or airing his speeches live for hours on end every single day. Some of us, like Chris Christie, have even endorsed him, all out of fear and despair.
Well, we’re not going to take it anymore.
At long last, Mr. Trump, I am not a cuck. I am a veteran journalist with over 30 years of experience reporting both inside the Beltway and out. And you’re gonna hear me roar.
Trump’s strategy of calling Rand Paul subhuman and stoking fervid white nationalism may have been smart politics in the Republican primary, but it’s just not going to fly now that the entire country is watching. Voters intuitively understand that Trump’s proposals of ethnically cleansing the Southwest and leading a reign of terror against non-whites would simply be dead on arrival on Capitol Hill. The last thing Americans want is more of the same partisan gridlock to distract from the serious issues, like reaching a grand bipartisan compromise to raise the retirement age and quadruple funding for NATO.
With Labor Day approaching, it’s not too late for Trump to pivot to the center. He could go on television and directly repudiate his basement-dwelling ex-Bernie Bro supporters. All it would take is for him to say “I don’t know that frog. The frog, frankly, disgusts me, okay? And as for these internet virgins who harass Carl Diggler — who is, by the way, a tremendous reporter, one of the all-time best — these incelibates who are harassing him? They’re weak. They’re losers. They’re not winners with terrific sex lives like me and Carl Diggler, who, by the way, deserves that Polk Award. Just a fabulous, fabulous reporter.”
But I wouldn’t hold my breath.
As a fellow family member of a serviceman (my dad Col. Dig Sr., who has served in every conflict since the Korean War), I salute you, Khizr Khan, and I thank your son for his sacrifice. You have stirred the conscience of a nation, and woken everyone up to the subtle racism contained in Donald Trump’s actions and proposals and explicit statements that have been reported on by every major news outlet for the past year. Because of your bravery, sir, Jeb Bush has the courage to sleep in the same bed as his wife, and I have hope in my heart that one day, I’ll be able to open my Twitter mentions and see not trolls wallowing in a dumpster fire, but thousands of earnest news-readers agreeing with every single word I say. One day.
Carl “The Dig” Diggler has covered national politics for 30 years and is the host of the Digcast, a weekly podcast on iTunes and Soundcloud. Got a question for the Dig? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet to @carl_diggler.