Kudos to Gov. Greg Abbott and U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry for breaking the silence in Texas among state leaders regarding Donald Trump’s attack on the family of a fallen Muslim American soldier, who gave his life for country and flag while serving in Iraq.
Abbott spoke if not for all Texans than for many in his statement this week to The Texas Tribune applauding the service of Humayun Khan and defending his parents.
“The service and devotion of Gold Star families to America cannot be questioned,” Abbott said. “Captain [Humayun] Khan, like many heroes who paid the ultimate sacrifice, will be forever remembered for their service in protecting the freedoms we cherish in America.”
Abbott’s words are welcome as is the statement from U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry of Clarendon, a member of the Texas congressional delegation, who said he is “dismayed at the attacks Khizr Khan and his wife Ghazala have endured after they spoke about their son’s service and sacrifice.”
“There is never enough honor we can show to the families of those whose loved ones have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country,” said Thornberry, who chairs the House Armed Services Committee. “I believe that each of us are called every day to show our deepest respect and gratitude to all of those who protect our freedom and their families.”
In defending the Khan family, Abbott and Thornberry have put some matters in their correct order, elevating country above partisanship.
It is disappointing that we have not heard (at least not yet) similar words from either of Texas’ two U.S. senators — John Cornyn or Ted Cruz — or from other statewide elected leaders, such as Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Attorney General Ken Paxton, or Land Commissioner George P. Bush. As The Tribune reported, former Gov. Rick Perry, who served in the U.S. Air Force, also has been mum on Trump’s war of words with the Khan family, who immigrated to the U.S. in 1980.
Those leaders have had plenty of time to figure out which way the political winds have been blowing since the controversy broke following Khizr Khan’s rebuke of Trump last week at the Democratic National Convention criticizing Trump for his anti-Muslim statements and proposal to temporarily ban Muslims immigrating to the U.S.
With grief heavy in his voice, his wife standing beside him, Khizr Khan told of his son’s heroism in 2004, when Army Capt. Humayun Khan stepped forward – while ordering his soldiers to take cover — so he could check out a suspicious vehicle approaching the gate of his compound near Baqubah, Iraq. The vehicle was full of explosives, which went off and killed the 27-year-old officer before he reached the vehicle. For his valor, Humayun Khan earned a Purple Heart and Bronze Star posthumously.
“We were blessed to raise our three sons in a nation where they were free to be themselves and follow their dreams,” said Khizr Khan. “Our son, Humayun, had dreams of being a military lawyer. But he put those dreams aside the day he sacrificed his life to save his fellow soldiers.”
The father continued: “Donald Trump, you are asking Americans to trust you with our future.”
He then pulled a worn copy of the U.S. Constitution from his jacket pocket.
“Let me ask you: Have you even read the U.S. Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy. In this document, look for the words “liberty” and “equal protection of law.”
It was an emotional moment that brought the Virginia couple into the national spotlight. And a moment that sent Trump once again counterpunching through Tweets and other media. But Trump’s responses attacking the couple and their religion were too cold-hearted even for many Republicans who endorsed Trump. Condemnation has come from respected GOP Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and from the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
“Election year or not, the VFW will not tolerate anyone berating a Gold Star family member for exercising his or her right of speech or expression,” said VFW leader Brian Duffy in a statement.
It’s heartening that Abbott and Thornberry have acknowledged the patriotism and sacrifice of the Khan family. It’s disappointing that other Texas leaders, who readily wrap themselves in the flag when it suits their political purpose, have not come to the defense of this Gold Star family.
Yes, they are Muslims. Yes, they are immigrants. But at this moment they have more of the U.S. Constitution’s values running through their veins than Trump or his apologists.