Have we lost sight of an Amer­i­can hero?

Cecil Whig - - OPINION - Ruben Navarette Jr.

— It’s hard crit­i­ciz­ing peo­ple you re­spect, and twice as hard if the crit­i­cism might be mis­in­ter­preted as de­fend­ing some­one you don’t.

Since I’m “Never Trump,” I’m free of the moral con­flict of sup­port­ing a nom­i­nee who would stoop so low as to in­sult the par­ents of a dead sol­dier.

This sort of thing should dis­qual­ify some­one from serv­ing as pres­i­dent. But then again, so does call­ing Mex­i­can im­mi­grants crim­i­nals and rapists, mock­ing the dis­abled, de­mean­ing women, suggest­ing that Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush knew about the at­tacks of Sept 11,

SAN DIEGO

2001, be­fore­hand, prais­ing Sad­dam Hus­sein and Vlad­mir Putin, and threat­en­ing to ban an en­tire re­li­gion from the United States.

Yet be­cause of my line of work, I’m not free to ig­nore the truth, even when it’s un­com­fort­able — es­pe­cially when it’s un­com­fort­able.

Here’s the truth: There are many good ways for par­ents to re­mem­ber and honor a child they’ve lost. But us­ing their an­guish as a spring­board to en­ter the po­lit­i­cal rough and tum­ble by pick­ing a fight with a party’s nom­i­nee isn’t one of them.

When Khizr and Ghaz­ala Khan — the Gold Star par­ents of Capt. Hu­mayun Khan, an Amer­i­can sol­dier killed in Iraq — at­tacked Trump with a sting­ing per­sonal rebuke at the Demo­cratic National Con­ven­tion, they did Hil­lary Clin­ton a big fa­vor.

Yet, with those re­marks and later tele­vi­sion ap­pear- an­ces, the Khans did noth­ing to serve the mem­ory of their fallen son.

I’ve in­ter­viewed Gold Star par­ents, and they have a spe­cial bur­den to watch what they say and do so as not to let pol­i­tics in any way di­min­ish their sac­ri­fice. Some have fallen short, and both po­lit­i­cal par­ties have shame­lessly ex­ploited their anger.

The Khans are now in a me­dia-fueled tit-for-tat with Trump who — in a star­tling lack of so­cial skills — sug­gested that the rea­son that Ghaz­ala Khan, a griev­ing mother, kept quiet as her hus­band spoke was be­cause Is­lam com­mands it.

Even Repub­li­cans couldn’t stom­ach such dis­re­spect, and many of them have fired at Trump. Good for them.

But, amid all the in­sults fly­ing about, haven’t we lost sight of some­thing rather im­por­tant — like an Amer­i­can hero?

Hu­mayun Khan was the real deal. On June 8, 2004, he lost his life when he ran to­ward the ve­hi­cle of a sui­cide bomber who was ac­cel­er­at­ing to­ward a fa­cil­ity with hun­dreds of Amer­i­can soldiers.

Where do we find such peo­ple? And how did Amer­ica get so lucky as to have more than her share?

That Hu­mayun Khan died serv­ing his coun­try is a tragedy, but how he died makes for a great story. It’s a tale that I might have ex­pected to hear from his par­ents when they had the chance to ad­dress the na­tion dur­ing the Demo­cratic con­ven­tion.

But I didn’t hear it from them. In­stead, I heard it from sub­se­quent me­dia ac­counts and from Sen. John McCain’s of­fi­cial state­ment con­demn­ing Trump for his dis­par­age­ment of “a fallen sol­dier’s par­ents” and reem­pha­siz­ing — as Clin­ton did — that Hu­mayun Khan rep­re­sented “the best of Amer­ica.”

Maybe the rea­son I didn’t hear the heroic story of Hu­mayun Khan from his par­ents is be­cause, of the 300 words in Khizr Khan’s con­ven­tion speech, al­most half — 134 words — were about Trump. Khan started out crit­i­ciz­ing the real es­tate de­vel­oper for smear­ing “the char­ac­ter of Mus­lims,” dis­re­spect­ing mi­nori­ties, at­tack­ing fel­low Repub­li­cans, and vow­ing to build walls and ban Mus­lims from the United States. He in­sin­u­ated that Trump had never read the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion, and of­fered to lend the GOP nom­i­nee his copy. He fol­lowed that broad­side by ask­ing if Trump had been to Ar­ling­ton National Ceme­tery and seen the grave sites of pa­tri­ots who come in “all faiths, gen­ders and eth­nic­i­ties.” He then ac­cused Trump of hav­ing sac­ri­ficed noth­ing in life, and fi­nally in­sisted that Amer­i­cans “can’t solve our prob­lems by build­ing walls and sow­ing di­vi­sion.”

It was an ef­fec­tive po­lit­i­cal speech, the kind you ex­pect to hear at a party con­ven­tion — but not what you should hear from par­ents of a fallen sol­dier.

The Khans had the chance to honor their son by telling his story to the coun­try. In­stead, they wasted the op­por­tu­nity by crit­i­ciz­ing a self-cen­tered con man and car­ni­val barker with a mean streak who used de­fer­ments to skip out on the Viet­nam War and isn’t fit to have car­ried their son’s duf­fel bag.

It’s just one more tragic el­e­ment of a tale that was al­ready guar­an­teed to break your heart.

Ruben Navarette Jr. is a syn­di­cated colum­nist from the Wash­ing­ton Post. His email is reuben@ruben­navarette.com.

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