The time to ask for forgiveness

by: César J. Blanco, Latino Victory interim director

In the moment that U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan stood in front of a car bomb in a military base in Iraq, he did not think about the race, gender or economic status of the people he protected. In a heroic act, he saved the life of his military colleagues paying with the ultimate sacrifice — his life. As residents of this country, we are tasked with honoring the memory of these heroes and thanking their families for their sons’ and daughters’ sacrifices. That is the decent and correct thing to do, the least we can do.

But last week, it was clear that the Khan family’s sacrifice meant nothing to Donald Trump, who, upon being criticized by Khan’s parents for his racist policies against Muslims and other groups, showed a new level of intolerance and disrespect by insulting and attacking the Khan family. What Trump does not understand is that in attacking them, he attacked all of us veterans, military service men and women, and Gold Star families. He attacked those of us who recognize that heroes like Humayun are what make this country great and that they and their families deserve respect and honor, more than anyone.

As a veteran, I had the honor of serving our country in the U.S. Navy. Trump’s comments are an insult to my service and to the service of those with whom I served. The verdict is clear; the hour has come for the Republican Party to denounce Trump. And the time has come for Trump to apologize.

Since Khan’s parents paid tribute to their son, their life, on stage at the Democratic National Convention, Trump showed that his cynicism and insolence do not have a limit. His offenses were to such degree that even some of his closest allies have distanced themselves from his comments. For example, Sally Bradshaw, who is one of the Republican strategists who helped write the GOP’s autopsy after they lost the presidential election in 2012, announced yesterday that she left the Republican Party thanks to Trump and his latest insults and attacks against Khan’s family.

Members of the U.S House of Representatives who are war veterans, Ted Lieu, Seth Moulton and Rubén Gallego, sent a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan, demanding that he retract his support of Trump’s candidacy. Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell both defended the Khan family and have denounced Trump’s call for a Muslim ban. Republican Senator John McCain, Republican Party leader and decorated veteran who was also a prisoner of war, joined these voices by releasing an emotive statement in which he called Trump’s comments unacceptable and reiterates Khan’s and his parents’ bravery and heroism. However, the Republican Party leadership, Ryan, McConnell and McCain included, are still supporting Trump, who has insulted the memory of heroes like Humayun and their families and who has caused severe damage to our country.

This week a coalition of Gold Star families and veterans sent a letter to Trump, telling him that he has insulted each and every one of them and asking for an apology. However, Trump has not dignified himself to give a response.

Trump’s delusion of grandeur has reached its limit. He has minimized the life of a man who literally stood in between a bomb and a group of American soldiers and who will be remembered in our nation’s history as a hero who gave his life for his country. Humayun was an American patriot who loved our country, who was admired by his military brothers and sisters and who served his country until the last minute. Humayun Khan was everything that Trump imagines himself to be, but which he will never be. Trump would not think for one second of risking his life for his fellow man or woman, in fact, he refused to serve in the military five times, offering nothing but excuses not to serve his country.

If he had one ounce of dignity and empathy, or of the patriotism that he speaks so much of, Trump would offer an apology to the Khan family and to the military. It is the least he can do for a nation’s hero. If he does not, the Republican leadership must retract their support for Trump’s candidacy to send a direct message that in this country, we respect those who have served and their families regardless of their race, opinions or political affiliations.

*This column was first published on Univision.