With millions of people watching last week, the parents of Captain Humayun Khan, a Muslim American soldier killed in Iraq in 2004, took to the stage at the Democratic National Convention. And Capt. Khan's father, Khizr Khan, delivered a speech that's still reverberating a full week later. He condemned GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump's anti-Muslim policy proposals, declared that he has "sacrificed nothing," and he asked the tycoon-turned-politico "Have you even read the United States Constitution?" And that question made a lot of sense, frankly. There have been plenty of times Donald Trump could've used Khizr Khan's pocket Constitution.
Make no mistake: Out of all the subjects Trump could try to take umbrage over, Constitutional knowledge isn't a great one. On the one hand, it's hard to know the answer to Khan's specific question ― has Trump ever sat down and actually read the document? ― since the truth lies only within himself. And even if he hasn't read it start to finish, that doesn't mean he couldn't have acquired some functional knowledge of the rights it affords.
But sadly for Trump, he's already proposed a number of things throughout his candidacy that make it hard to give him the benefit of the doubt in Constitutional areas, making reporters and voters everywhere wonder: "Huh, what does he really know?" Here are five huge examples that prove Trump could take a second look at the Constitution.
1. Trump Called For The Return Of Waterboarding, "And A Hell Of A Lot Worse"
Trump is an ardent supporter of the use of torture. And no, that's not an exaggeration. It's not even dependent on classifying waterboarding as torture (although it plainly is, no matter what Bush-era conservatives might tell you) ― Trump has routinely said that he wants to bring back waterboarding and more , arguing that "torture works," and lambasting intelligence and military experts who disagree with him.
He hasn't gotten very specific about what types of new torture he'd approve, but he likes to argue that we should be keeping up with ISIS's barbarity, commenting on how "they're cutting off heads" while America has to treat its prisoners humanely.
It's not actually true that America always respects the rights of its prisoners of war, to be clear, as has been evidenced at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, and the Bagram air base in Afghanistan. But Trump seems to be calling for something even grislier and more out in the open, which is a truly chilling thought. Those are irreversible American sins that need to be overcome, not doubled-down on.
2. Trump Said The Military Should "Take Out" Terrorists' Families
In December of 2015, Trump said that the U.S. military should "take out" the families of terrorists as a deterrent strategy in America's conflict with ISIS. This was nothing less than a call to kill people for their personal associations without any known cause or imminent threat. Months later, Trump denied ever saying this, insisting he just wanted to "go after" them. In simple terms, Trump called for the U.S. military to commit flagrant war crimes.
3. Trump Proposed A Total And Complete Shutdown Of Muslims Entering The United States
If the phrase "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States" sounds strange, extreme, or exaggerated to you, there's a reason for that. Trump and his campaign have softened, dampened, and tried to downplay the severity of his proposed (temporary, he insists) Muslim ban, framing it as being about immigration and territory, rather than about religion. But when you're the president, it matters what you say when you stand in front of a microphone, with the whole world watching. So never forget what Trump really proposed back in December of 2015, when this whole sordid saga began ― this is his interpretation of religious freedom in America. At a rally in South Carolina, Trump read his own published statement back to the crowd:
Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.
4. Trump Called For American Mosques To Be Shut Down
In November of last year, Trump settled on yet another flatly unconstitutional anti-Muslim policy proposal, something religious-freedom-loving conservatives should not have been sympathetic to. Namely, he said that the government would "absolutely" have to shut down some mosques within the United States — a general threat that lacked any real specificity, nuance, or, frankly, concern about how it'd be received. He also praised the aggressive surveillance of Islamic horses of worship which became common in New York City and New Jersey in the years following 9/11.
5. Trump Said Khizr Khan Had "No Right" To Criticize His Constitutional Knowledge
This one is way too easily. Pro tip for any would-be politicians out there: When you're being criticized by somebody who already has the moral high ground, a very credible-seeming claim, and about 9,000 percent more dignity, try to make sure you don't instantly validate their criticism in your response. Needless to say, Khan did have the right to criticize Trump, as laid out in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. You don't even need to read that far to learn that one!