Donald Trump’s Joseph McCarthy Moment: ‘Have You No Sense Of Decency, Sir?’

When Senator Joseph McCarthy implied on nationwide television that a young Boston lawyer was a communist, Army Counsel Joseph Welch stood up for his colleague and famously rebuked the Wisconsin senator:

“Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness….Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

Welch’s famous interchange with McCarthy, when an honorable man stood up to a bully, is seen as a moment when the country started to turn against McCarthy’s witch hunt.

Perhaps a later generation will look back at Khizr Khan and see a similar turning point.

For it is Khan, the humble soft-spoken Muslim immigrant father whose son was killed in Iraq heroically running toward a suicide car bomber and thus saving the lives of his fellow soldiers, who has landed some of the most telling blows against Trump.

“Have you even read the United States Constitution?” Khan challenged Trump from the stage at the Democratic National Convention. “Look for the words liberty and equal protection under the law.”

It is the calm and reasonable Khan, the grieving father, who speaks of the need for candidates to have a “moral compass” and “empathy,” and challenged Republican party leaders Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan to disavow Trump.

The New York tycoon is “incapable of empathy,” Khan said sorrowfully, asking that Trump’s family counsel him: “he will be a better person,” if he gets help.

Trump is a “black soul” who is “totally unfit for the leadership of this beautiful country.”

Donald Trump’s furious and unremitting attacks on the Khan family in response to the DNC speech may display a callousness too far.

Trump challenged Humayun Khan’s mother Ghazala to talk, which she did, tearfully, on television shows, telling of her son’s last phone call to her, on Mother’s Day 2004.

Ghazala Khan wrote in the Washington Post:  “Donald Trump said I had nothing to say. I do. My son Humayun Khan, an Army captain, died 12 years ago in Iraq. He loved America, where we moved when he was 2 years old….Donald Trump has children whom he loves. Does he really need to wonder why I did not speak?”

Trump, whose series of draft deferments ensured that he did not see service in Vietnam, has a different idea of service and of sacrifice. “I think I have made a lot of sacrifices,” Trump told talk show host George Stephanopoulos.

“I’ve worked very, very hard. I’ve created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures … I’ve had tremendous success.” When Stephanopoulos asked whether Trump really meant that these were sacrifices, Trump replied: “Oh, sure. I think they’re sacrifices.”

When Trump was asked what he would say to Khizr Khan, Trump responded, “I’d say ‘We’ve had a lot of problems with radical Islamic terrorism.’”

To which Joseph Welch might have responded: “You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

Perhaps not. Trump counted Roy Cohn, who was Joseph McCarthy’s chief counsel and Welch’s sparring partner in the hearings, as a close friend. History doesn’t repeat itself, but it sure does rhyme sometimes.

It has taken a Muslim immigrant couple, soft-spoken Gold Star parents, to ensure that Americans we hear a gentler counterpoint to Trump’s angry rhythms.

Is China Doing Enough for the Environment?

Let’s congratulate China for what it‘s doing to fight environmental damage and climate change. It has the world’s most ambitious clean-tech program, investing $110 billion in clean-energy technologies last year, almost as much as the U.S. and the E.U. combined.

From almost nothing five years ago, China now has the world’s largest installed base of wind power and solar power. Coal use has dropped each of the past two years. Electricity generated by coal was less than 70 percent last year, down 10 percentage points from 2011. Low-carbon source such as hydro and wind have made up the difference and are now significant sources of electricity generation in China.

Energy intensity is falling, as China shifts away from its traditional reliance on heavy industry to embrace the service sector. Indeed, China is responsible for much of the good, and unexpected, news from the International Energy Agency that global carbon emissions have plateaued in the past two years despite continued economic growth.

When Chinese President Xi Jinping signed a historic agreement with Barack Obama in November 2014 promising that China’s CO2 emissions would peak “around 2030,’” the agreement was hailed as a big step forward. And it was. At last, China formally put a date on peak emissions.

Good as this news is, China needs to do more.

Originally published as part of an Asia Society ChinaFile Conversation. Can be accessed here

Through the Eyes of Asia’s Tiger Cubs

Asia’s post–Cold War generation of young professionals have a decidedly optimistic outlook on the future – as revealed by the Asia’s Challenge 2020 essay competion organized by the Asia Business Council, Time magazine and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. Mark L. Clifford, executive director of the Hong Kong-based Asia Business Council, co-authored a book, “Through the Eyes of Tiger Cubs: Views of Asia’s Next Generation,” which showcases the visionary thinking of young essayists from China, India and other Asian nations. Beneficiaries of their parents’ hard work and sacrifices, the so-called Tiger Cubs expect Asia’s prosperity to continue. The group generally has faith in government and technology and keen awareness of the competing priorities of Asia’s diverse ethnic groups. The group also values regional economic integration and mutual support among nations. Tiger Cubs” are comfortable with their identities and opportunities, and as one essayist, India’s Rohit Pathak, suggests, “There is no doubt that the coming decade will be Asia’s.” – YaleGlobal

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