"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends," the Christian Bible tells us. Surely, none hath a greater sacrifice than the woman who lays down the life of her son for his country. Even in these parlous and precarious times driven by strife, anger and irreconcilable conflict, we can all surely agree and pay honor and tribute to such a woman.
Well, not quite. For some it depends on the sacrifice, who made it and where it was made.
Mainstream media has been in a righteous froth for days over what it calls Donald Trump's disrespect (or worse) of the parents of Humayun Khan, a Muslim soldier who died an American hero at the hands of radical Islamic terrorists in Iraq. It's not at all clear that Trump intended to disrespect, nor that he started what became a bitter public feud with the soldier's father, Khizr Khan, a Muslim Pakistani-born immigration lawyer, who attacked the Donald in a fiery speech at the Democratic National Convention. From the depths of a father's grief, Khan called Trump a man with a "black soul." Trump answered in kind, as he always does, and the feud was on.
Trump has been painted in vivid colors by newspapers, magazines, television networks and news sites as the man with the blackened soul who hates dead soldiers
Khan's speech, given at the planning of Hillary Clinton, followed a speech given the week prior at the Republican convention by Patricia Smith, whose son, Sean, was one of the four Americans who died in the 2012 consulate attack in Benghazi while waiting for a rescue that then-Secretary of State Clinton never ordered. Unlike Humayun Khan's mother, Ghazala Khan, Smith is not a gold star mother, but she loved her son well. And, like Khan and other women who have lost their sons, she has never recovered from her grief. She never will.
Smith denounced Clinton with the fire and passion that Khizr Khan denounced Trump, saying she "(blames) Hillary Clinton personally" for her son's death. But neither she nor her dead son became the toast of an angry media. Rather, they were made pariahs and figures of icy scorn by the media that celebrate Khan's put-down of Trump.
No sooner had Smith stepped down from the platform in Cleveland than the personal attacks began. "I don't care what that woman up there — that mother — has felt," said MSNBC's Chris Matthews. Steve Benen of MSNBC said that Smith's speaking from her broken heart was "a spectacle so offensive it was hard even to comprehend." The Nation magazine said the speech was "a cynical exploitation of grief." The Washington Post said that Smith represented "an early dip into the gutter." A writer for GQ Magazine wanted to "beat her to death."
Such reactions seem wildly out of proportion for one speech by one woman, particularly from those presumed to have been prepared by training and experience to observe, weigh and offer measured comments on the passing parade. Patricia Smith touched a raw and super-sensitive nerve and set the hounds howling.
The nerve, of course, is Benghazi, and Clinton's role in the events that occurred at the U.S. consulate and CIA annex there on September 11-12, 2012 — the anniversary of Sept. 11, a date that lives "in infamy" like December 7, 1941. Both Benghazi and Sept. 11 have become the great unmentionables in liberal lore, the third rail of politics that anyone touches at their mortal peril.
The Obama White House, which had peddled the myth that it had more or less eliminated terrorism in the Middle East, quickly blamed the legation attack on an obscure anti-Muslim video, saying it led to street riots across the Middle East and eventually to the deadly violence at the consulate. This was the second myth, and the president and secretary of state nurtured it for weeks.
Months later, Clinton showed her impatience with the impertinence of being held to account for her dismissive irresponsibility. At a Senate hearing, she famously retorted: "Was it because of a protest, or was it because of guys out for a walk one night and decided they'd go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?"
It made a lot of difference to Patricia Smith, who was determined to ensure that her son's life and death were not dismissed as a mere footnote to Clinton's blind ambition. The cheesy retinue of Clinton enablers and defenders in the media would not forgive a mother's relentless chipping away at the rings of media defense of their presidential candidate. Mothers matter, and some mothers matter more than others.
Photo credit: Melissa Hillier