Parents of a fallen Pakistani-American US Army Captain, Mr. Khizr Khan and his wife, speaking at the DNC Convention, July 2016, waving a pamphlet version of the US Constitution at Donald Trump
With his grieving wife at his side, Khizr Khan delivered a moving stump speech at the national convention of the Democratic Party of the US during the pantomime that the world knows as the 2016 Presidential Elections.
It is amazing how the man held it together and remained stoic all the while that he spoke, his wife looking up at him from time to time, a mixture of concern and devotion in her eyes. I believe that their dignity added to the impact of his address.
After he had said what he had come to say, all hell broke loose. The talk shows united on one thing – that Mr Khan struck a chord, even among many Republicans and in a ratings-driven nation, Trump’s standing took a brief nose dive. I am certain that the volume of tears shed by Americans during Mr Khan’s amazing address would be enough to fill up a football stadium.
First, here’s what their son, Capt. Humayun Saqib Muazzam Khan, did for America, as per the citation that his parents received from the US Army…..
In 2004, Khan was assigned to the 201st Forward Support Battalion, 1st Infantry Division in Vilseck, Germany, when he was deputed to Iraq.
Three months into his tour of duty in Iraq, on June 8 near Baqubah, Khan was inspecting a guard post when they observed a taxicab approaching too quickly, raising concerns that it was going to ram the guard rails and detonate an explosive device. Ordering his subordinates away from the vehicle, Khan ran forward 10–15 steps to the taxi to caution it to slow down.
His suspicions turned out to be well founded. At the wheel was a suicide bomber and the car had been rigged with a powerful remote-controlled explosive device that went off the moment Khan came close. He caught the blast before it could reach the gates or the nearby mess hall where hundreds of soldiers were eating breakfast.
By that single act of bravery, Capt. Humayun Khan probably saved 100-200 Americans that day. He rests at the Arlington National Cemetery, in Virginia, USA. That he has not been cited for the Medal of Honor for his heroic act of sacrifice is inexplicable. (Not that it matters to someone who is dead).
For those interested to lay flowers there, the location of his grave is identified below….
KHAN, HUMAYUN SAQIB MUAZZAM
CPT US ARMY
DATE OF BIRTH: 09/09/1976
DATE OF DEATH: 06/08/2004
BURIED AT: SECTION 60 SITE 7986
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
Fresh flowers around Capt. Humayun Khan’s gravestone at the Arlington National Cemetery.’
It does not matter that no one in America paused a moment to consider that Capt. Humayun Khan died fighting a war that is now universally recognized as an insanely unjust and unnecessary war. It is a war which has left the Middle-East in tatters, a war whose incomprehensibility shocks us and makes us wonder why those leaders who started it have not only not been convicted of war crimes and horrendous human rights abuses, but how it is possible that they are today walking freely among us – proud strutting puffed up men – holding forth on the lecture circuit on how they brought democracy to the Muslim world.
Instead of a prison cell at The Hague, George W. Bush drives around his Texas ranch when he isn’t appearing in TV talk shows with the Kimmels, the Fallons and the DeGenerreses of America, greeted as he steps on the stage with deafening cheers and standing ovations. (At the moment even a baboon will seem like a savior to liberal America)
But then I had been naive to believe that those cells at The Hague were ever meant for folks like Bush and not for black African heads of state. After all, look at the sterling pedigree he sports – his dad, George H W Bush, the one who pardoned all those thugs in the Iran-Contra affair and prior to that, took it upon himself to persuade a US Attorney to go easy in the prosecution of one of America’s most corrupt politicians, Spiro T. Agnew.
It does not matter that Capt. Khan voluntarily took part in an invasion of a sovereign country, on the side of the invaders, for reasons as blatantly and ludicrously facile as what the invasion’s military code name suggested – ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’.
I am confused – ultimately what does Mr. Khizr Khan’s speech at the DNC Convention tell us about America? That this is a Muslim whose son was willing to martyr himself for America? That he is not the kind that Donald Trump demonizes?
Or does it show America up as a nation that repeatedly and needlessly sends its young into the jaws of death, training them to kill on its orders thousands of innocents, a majority of whom have never lifted a finger to hurt it? And then return home – broken plastic fighting figures, ticking time bombs, riddled with PTSD and Moral Injury?
I wonder how Capt. Khan’s father’s speech has been received by Muslims, within America and without – the one’s that Mr Khan Sr. appears to want to represent? Some will surely tear up like the rest of us, but there will be many in the Muslim world who will dismiss the death of Capt Humayun Khan as something that he had coming to him. After all, Capt. Khan was not forcibly drafted – he chose to enlist.
I don’t know, help me out here – if the parents of a foot soldier in Genghiz Khan’s western divisions or Attila the Hun’s hordes made a speech about how their son gave up his life while actively engaged in the effort to subjugate and annihilate thousands in the overrun territories, were their audience then supposed to tear up?
After all, if we look closely, there is no difference between a Hun Chieftain in Attila’s legions and Capt Humayun Khan. One died securing the fig orchards in overrun Anatolia and the other gave his life securing those billion dollar no-bid reconstruction contracts for the Bechtels and the Haliburtons of America.
Or is the message hidden inside Mr Khan’s address telling us that sacrifice, any sacrifice, is noble? That war, any war and dying in that war is a heroic thing and must be honored, regardless of whether the hero fought for the invaders or the invaded?
“You have made no sacrifice, you have lost no one,” said the bereaved Mr. Khan, addressing Donald Trump in his speech, making it seem like there is no difference between a just and an unjust war, as if sacrifice and being martyred is all that matters. In a sense Mr Khan was being true to form. The Abrahamic faiths do place sacrifice and martyrdon at the very top of their to-do lists.
But then, what is the difference between the Capt. Khan who fought with the Americans and those other Khans who fight with the Taliban? When will America start seeing the bigger picture, instead of playing to the gallery every time?
Am I the only one who refuses to tear up at PR exercises?
Gary Robinson said:
Sometimes, Achyut, I think the worst thing about war, the one thing that has always driven it is the very ritual of sacrifice: the young are killed to perpetuate myths of nobility or goodness when most of the time (there are exceptions) it is about seizing another country’s property.
So, true. The world is filled with schmucks who fall for all that martyrdom crap.
Actually, my response was a bit too pat. Calling the general populace schmucks is a bit sweeping.
We just happen to live in a world where the majority of us just watch while we are lied to, looted, without any real recourse to justice, gaping as the folks we elected steal and subvert with abandon.
Will this eventually lead into a situation where there’s a vigilante force created by a billionaire do-gooder? Or will it lead to military coups in the western world? I know that the Americans view their military with a lot of respect. Will they accept a military coup? Are the generals at The Pentagon ready to take Trump down? Is the CIA training an assassin to take Putin down?
I don’t know, Gary. I don’t know what the future holds. I only know that for our sons and daughters, the future is going to be crappy.