“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
Every time I come to London, my good friend Dan and I make a point of seeing one of the city’s peerless museums together, as an enjoyable way to break up the monotony of the endless meetings I must suffer through. The last time this happened we went to the Imperial War Museum and spent hours in the magnificent, haunting Holocaust exhibit. I will never forget the chill that went down both our spines as we read the doleful exhortation/warning that is the quotation beginning this article.
I for one can no longer look the other way as the American presidential election lurches toward its ugly climax. I am a rock-ribbed Republican, proud to belong to the party of Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and Reagan. I am a Republican because, in my Jeffersonian way, I cherish individual liberty, small accountable government, American patriotism, and one thing more: the old Free Soil notion that any man who comes to America and is talented enough, passionate enough and works hard enough should be honoured and welcomed to my country. There is no doubt that Khizr Kahn is just this sort of man, as was his son, Captain Humayun Kahn, who lost his life in Iraq.
Addressing the Democratic Convention, Kahn, a Harvard-educated lawyer, wryly noted that if Donald Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims entering America was in force, Captain Kahn would not have had the opportunity to give his life for the country. Speaking scathingly of Trump’s advocacy of the use of torture in the war on terrorism, Kahn offered to loan the Republican candidate his copy of the Constitution. He ended, noting that Trump has “sacrificed nothing and no one”, instead earning five deferments, avoiding Vietnam.
Trump’s typically thuggish response? He sickeningly attacked a family that have given my country the most precious thing they have; their son, who was awarded the Bronze Star. He criticised Mrs Kahn, who stood solidly beside her husband as he spoke. Instead, the schoolyard bully said, “I’d like to hear his wife say something… she probably – maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say”, broadly hinting that, as a Muslim woman, she was enslaved by her husband, thus rendering his criticism invalid as he was not a real American. Mrs Kahn later explained that the reason she had not said anything is that she still cannot look at a picture of her son, killed in 2004, without coming undone.
Enough, for God’s sake. Enough. This wickedness, this un-American bigotry must be fought by all of us who believe in Lincoln, Roosevelt, Ike, and Reagan. As expected, senator John McCain and speaker of the house Paul Ryan – both good men – strongly criticised Trump, but stopped short of withdrawing their support for his presidential candidacy. That is not nearly enough. We must all pledge not to vote for this abomination, and uphold the traditions of the Republic. This is our moral test. This is what history has given us. We must not fail all those who came before, and all those who will come after us. We must not do nothing. We must actively vote against the darkness this man is peddling.
Trust me, I know how hard this is. Voting for Hillary Clinton is the last thing I ever thought I would have to do. She is a truly awful candidate. Throughout her long career, it has always seemed as if she thought the rules of the game were for little people, as though she were entitled to ignore them if they got in her way. This was true about the billing records which were magically found in the White House from her legal firm at the height of the Whitewater Affair, and her making a fortune speaking for Goldman Sachs, all the while sickeningly posing as a tribune of the people.
The email server controversy has taken this annoying tendency to a whole new level. There have simply been way too many of these issues for Clinton to evade the general sense that she is emblematic of the problem of a system that more and more Americans find corrupt.
American political dysfunction, and the global political risk that increasingly flows from it, is going to be with us for a long time. But that is for later. For now, in the name of the Republic, all good men must do something, and Trump must be stopped.