I have great empathy for Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the couple who attacked Donald Trump at the Democratic National Convention. The loss of a son in war is an unimaginable horror, albeit one many other Americans have had to suffer through.
What I cannot understand is Republicans agreeing to pronounce the Khans as unassailable once they have voluntarily submitted themselves to the political discourse and used the death of their son to promote the political ambitions of Hillary Clinton.
As you are probably aware, the Khans spoke against Trump not in mild, but rather, in searing terms. And yet House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have chosen to side with the Khans over Trump.
During his remarks to the DNC, Khan said Trump “disrespects other minorities; women; judges; even his own party leadership.”
And then he went on to mock the GOP nominee. “Let me ask you: have you even read the United States constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy,” Khan said to Trump, pulling out a pocket-sized Constitution for dramatic effect.
Trump, naturally responded. He overdid it, perhaps, wondering why Ghazala Khan did not speak, offering the clear implication that it was because, as a Muslim woman, she was silenced. Ghazala did speak in a TV interview the next day.
I think Trump was mainly being flippant, though a man speaking while a woman stands silent next to him is not something one normally sees in the United States these days. What’s more, Trump was raising a serious point that is almost completely neglected by the media: the discrimination against of women in Islamic cultures that extends even to physical abuse and, mainly overseas, murder.
Trump’s comments prompted an uproar in the media and are being used by the Clinton campaign against him. This is to be expected.
“To launch an attack as he did on Captain Khan’s mother, a Gold Star mother, who stood there on that stage with her husband honoring the sacrifice of their son,” Hillary Clinton said. “I don’t know where the bottom is.”
What disgusts is that Republicans, including even vice presidential candidate Mike Pence, are prostrating themselves on the alter of political correctness and saying that the Khans are to be held pristine because of their son. This, even though they flung themselves willingly into the political mud, wrapping themselves in their son’s memory.
“His sacrifice — and that of Khizr and Ghazala Khan — should always be honored,” said Ryan in a written statement.
“I am appalled that Donald Trump would disparage them,” said New Hampshire Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who faces a tough fight for reelection.
Jeb Bush, eviscerated by Trump in the primaries, couldn’t help chiming in.
“This is so incredibly disrespectful of a family that endured the ultimate sacrifice for our country,” Bush tweeted.
Said McConnell in a statement: “Like all Americans, I’m grateful for the sacrifices that selfless young men like Capt. Khan and their families have made in the war on terror.”
We’re all grateful to them. But in the context of the current dispute, the message from McConnell and Ryan and the others is clear: Back off the Khans, they are sacred.
Well, they were sacred, until Khan said this at the convention:
“This is a historic election, and I request to honor the sacrifice of my son – and on Election Day, take the time to get out and vote,” Khan said. “And vote for the healer. Vote for the strongest, most qualified candidate, Hillary Clinton, not the divider.”
Khan, in turns out, wasn’t just “honoring the sacrifice” of his son, as Clinton said. He was using the sacrifice of his son as a platform to promote the election of Hillary Clinton to the White House.
After hearing Trump’s criticisms, Khan upped the ante by saying that Trump has “no soul,” or, at least, “a black soul.”
So Mr. Khan is not just some innocent lamb who wandered into the political crossfire. He is attacking the Republican nominee in the most derogatory terms.
And yet, even Mike Pence eventually threw in the towel, saying that he and Trump believed the Khans should be “cherished.”
Yes, they should be cherished as long as they don’t start attacking people. Once they do, all bets are off.
The Democratic National Convention was not some mass psychotherapy session where people air their sorrows. It was political theater, and the Khans chose to give themselves a starring role in it.
And pusillanimous Republicans collapsing in fear of political consequences should instead call out this cynical — and quite successful — attempt by the Clinton campaign to unleash a fierce attack against Trump, knowingly insulated from return fire by the memory of a dead American hero.