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Thursday, August 04, 2016

Gold Star family exposes Donald Trump cruelty

"...what kind of barbarian would attack the parents of a fallen soldier?"- Meghan McCain

Certainly ironic, to say the least. When Donald Trump opened his unqualified attempt to become leader of the free world, he began with an attack on immigrants. Now, an immigrant Muslim family is ripping the mask off of Donald Trump's dangerously flawed stereotypes of brave and patriotic immigrants.

The Hill
Trump's McCarthy moment? By Gregory J. Wallance, contributor

Khizr and Ghazala Khan, Muslim-Americans

In 1954, an incandescent moral spotlight finlly revelaed the evils of McCarthyism- an era known for the Senate witch hunts led by Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy (1908-1957).
In fact, the blinders finally came off the eyes of millions of American who had approved, or at least not objected, to McCarthy's demagogic witch hunt against communists that ruined countless innocent lives. McCarthy did not look like an anticommunist crusader protecting America from its enemies. Rather, he looked like a thug and a bully. And that was the end of Joe McCarthy. His popularity sank and he was censored by the Senate.
He died three years later in disgrace, and has been a reviled figure ever since.
Republican nominee Donald Trump had his McCarthy moment at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Philadelphia.
His attack on a Gold Star mother was a moral blasphemy that cannot be defended, explained or forgiven. Of course, that's also true for his other attacks, such as on Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona for having been captured during the Vietnam War, on a federal judge because of his Mexican heritage and on a reporter for being disabled, among others far too numerous to list here.

But Gold Star mothers have a unique place in American history because membership comes at such an unimaginably painful price; being a Gold Star mother is akin to sainthood.

One Gold Star mother was Alleta Sullivan of Waterloo, Iowa, whose five sons, Joseph, Francis, Albert, Madison and George, had received special permission to serve together on the USS Juneau in World War II. On Nov. 13, 1943, the USS Juneau was sunk by the Japanese Navy during the Battle of Guadalcanal.

On the morning of Jan. 12, 1943, naval officers came to the Sullivan house and told the family — still wearing bathrobes and slippers in their living room — that all five sons had been lost.

Alleta Sullivan later wrote that, "In my first blind grief, it seemed like everything I had lived for was gone. I couldn't eat or sleep and I cried a lot." She and her husband later spoke at defense plants around the country.

In 2004, like thousands of other Gold Star families in the Iraq War, Khizr and Ghazala Khan, Muslim-Americans, were notified that their son, Army Capt. Humayun Khan, had died in Iraq.

Khizr spoke last week at the Democratic National Convention with Ghazala standing on the platform by his side. Trump suggested that Ghazala remained silent during her husband's speech because she was a subservient Muslim wife. "If you look at his wife," Trump said on ABC, "she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably — maybe she wasn't allowed to have anything to say. You tell me."

No, Ghazala Khan replied in an op-ed in The Washington Post, she didn't speak because, with her son's portrait looming above her, "What mother could? Donald Trump has children whom he loves. Does he really need to wonder why I did not speak?"

This was our era's McCarthy moment of moral clarity.

Henceforth, the issue isn't who Trump is or what he stands for, because it's crystal clear.
As Meghan McCain, Sen. McCain's daughter, put it, "I would ask what kind of barbarian would attack the parents of a fallen soldier?" The only issue now is whether the American people will finally gauge the recklessness and cruelty of Donald Trump.

(Contributor Gregory Wallance is a writer and lawyer in New York City, and a former federal prosecutor, is the author most recently of "America's Soul in the Balance: The Holocaust, FDR's State Department, and the Moral Disgrace of an American Aristocracy.")

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