Chris Collins Takes on Uppity Gold Star Muslims

by / Aug. 2, 2016 7am EST

The genius of the Trump campaign is the way in which the candidate can be so easily baited into making an outrageously racist or otherwise insensitive statement, allowing the matter to pivot from the substance of the underlying claim to Trump’s own petulant demeanor. 

It is now August 2nd. Khizr and Ghizala Khan appeared at the DNC on July 28th. They spoke early in the proceedings — not in prime time. People loved the speech and it went viral, which prompted The Toddler to hit back. It’s still in the headlines, and we have Trump to thank for that. The only people who feel happy about Trump’s treatment of the Khans are his core base — Trump dead-enders. Just about everyone else, regardless of political persuasion, is aghast not just at the substance of his attacks, but its procedural ineptitude. 

It bears mentioning that the Khans were not duped into helping Hillary Clinton — the Khans spoke out spontaneously against Trump back in December 2015. Immigrants put up with a lot of shit in this country; even more so immigrants who look or sound or pray differently from what is supposed to be the mainstream. Even today, as the Khans articulate that they merely wish to be treated with some modicum of respect, Donald Trump’s allies and surrogates smear them as foreign agents or terrorist sympathizers. It’s such a simple smear — every outspoken but devout Muslim has terrorist ties. It’s the same libel as Trump’s original smear, birtherism. It is a way to dehumanize and disrespect immigrants — especially non-white, non-Christian immigrants — as being beholden to forces opposed to America or democracy or Christianity. 

It isn’t fair commentary, it’s bigotry. It’s bigotry when Roger Stone accuses Gold Star parents of being terrorist sympathizers. It’s bigotry when Donald Trump spends over a year going birther, or suggests that a federal judge of Mexican ancestry is disloyal or unfit. It’s bigotry for Trump to recommend an indefinite ban on people of the Muslim faith — including US citizens - entry or re-entry to the United States. 

I don’t have much to add to the overall media storm over Trump’s incredible, unhinged interaction with the Khans. It all speaks for itself. I want to focus on local Congressman Chris Collins — a Clarence millionaire who treats his elected office as a peerage, and who was the first Congressman to endorse Trump, and a guy pandering to the worst forces in his party

Collins appeared on MSNBC and attacked the Khans — a Muslim couple who came to this country from Pakistan, and whose son was killed while fighting in our military for our country. The reason why Gold Star parents should be left alone by craven politicians? Their family sacrifice is to be honored and respected, regardless of what they say. Here is how George W. Bush — a President whom I think to be among the worst in history — showed his respect for military parents

One mom and dad of a dying soldier from the Caribbean were devastated, the mom beside herself with grief. She yelled at the president, wanting to know why it was her child and not his who lay in that hospital bed.

Her husband tried to calm her and I noticed the president wasn’t in a hurry to leave—he tried offering comfort but then just stood and took it, like he expected and needed to hear the anguish, to try to soak up some of her suffering if he could.

Later as we rode back on Marine One to the White House, no one spoke.

But as the helicopter took off, the president looked at me and said, “That mama sure was mad at me.” Then he turned to look out the window of the helicopter. “And I don’t blame her a bit.”

One tear slipped out the side of his eye and down his face. He didn’t wipe it away, and we flew back to the White House.

Sending your child off to war. Sending young people off to war. It’s the hardest thing a parent could do, and it’s one of the hardest things a President can do. Love him or hate him, Bush at least understood to some extent the gravity of what he had done. For Trump, however, it’s all a game. It’s all reality TV. 

Donald Trump is the Kardashian candidate. 

Chris Collins, who is gunning for a cabinet post in what would probably be America’s last government, doubled down on Trump’s disrespect for the Khans specifically, and Gold Star parents generally. The VFW took the unprecedented step of condemning Trump’s insane treatment of the Khans

Collins told MSNBC that the Khans had no right to attack Donald Trump, and that once they did, it’s open season. 

Here’s the funny thing: the Republicans in Trump’s thrall are all whining, accusing the Democrats of trotting out these Gold Star parents to attack Donald Trump with impunity. This is a tactic the Republicans have engaged in forever. This crowd is respectful of military service only when it politically suits them — when it doesn’t, they do stuff like put on Band-Aids with Purple Hearts printed on them to attack Vietnam Veteran John Kerry — attacks that have entered the political lexicon as “Swift Boating”. The Republicans are now Swift Boating the Khans because they do not believe that these immigrant Muslims cannot don the mantle of patriotism; they look, sound, and pray differently and can be more easily libeled and dehumanized. They have come out to support a Democrat, which makes their sacrifice an afterthought. From TPM

At this point, 12 years later, Mr. Khan has decided to enter the fray, attack Mr. Trump in a very inappropriate way when, in fact, it’s Hillary Clinton that ignores the First, Second and Tenth Amendments,” he said. “At that point, I can’t blame Mr. Trump for saying, I’m going to defend my integrity and my understanding of the Constitution.

I can. I can blame him. Here’s an idea for Donald Trump and all his surrogates: it’s ok to shut the fuck up every once in a while. It’s ok to shut the fuck up when the grieving mom and dad of a hero criticize you for calling them less than American. 

Pretty much anyone with any real political experience agrees that if Trump felt compelled to say anything, he should have thanked the Khans and reiterated how he would “make America safe again”. Instead, he launched into almost a week’s worth of ad hominem attacks on them, cheapening their sacrifice because they humiliated him.

In the Trump cult, humiliating the Leader is haram

It doesn’t matter that the Khans launched their criticism twelve years after their son’s sacrifice — they are addressing a candidate who has already cheapened it by suggesting that the Khans are unqualified for entry to the United States based on their religion, regardless of Passport. They have a right to be angry and indignant at this clown who suggests that they are insufficiently American. 

Maybe Chris Collins thinks being a Boy Scout is the same as being deployed to a war zone. 

Collins went on to point out that Clinton supported the Iraq War, a position Trump repeatedly attacked her for. He then cast Khan as an “attack dog” for Clinton and said that he uses his late son as a “shield” from criticism.

No, that’s decent Americans saying that attacking the Khans is going too far. Donald Trump even accused Mrs. Khan of being religiously forbidden from speaking at the DNC; he attacked a woman who had quite literally said nothing against him. Trump then said that Mr. Khan, “has no right to stand in front of millions of people and claim I have never read the Constitution.” Actually, the Constitution itself holds that he has exactly that right. 

“He’s become Hillary’s attack dog, and every time Donald Trump will say something, he puts up the shield, if you will, of the loss of his son,” he said.

It’s brilliant trolling. Every time Trump responds insensitively, attacking the Khans, this sweet couple shows their sympathetic faces and reminds everyone that their son died for their country, and Donald Trump can’t help but attack them more. 

“Mr. Khan is saying I’m immune from anyone criticizing me because my son died in a very heroic loss to the family and also in service of the country,” he continued. “But today he’s taken on a political role as an attack dog for Hillary Clinton, and I think, in that regard, he’s got to take what comes back at him.”

No matter what, apparently. 

Collins concluded the interview by saying he didn’t not blame Trump at all for the way he acted in response to Khan’s Democratic National Convention speech.

“That was very hypocritical, frankly, of someone to stand next to someone who has absolute disregard for the Constitution and then wave a pocket Constitution out in front of the camera,” Collins said. “That was an insult. We all know Mr. Trump. You take a swing at him, he’s going to punch back. Maybe some of the rest of us in the political world aren’t quite made up of that, but that’s Mr. Trump’s character, and, frankly, I don’t blame him.”

Collins also expressly disagreed with what former POW John McCain — a person whose military service Trump similarly disrespected and insulted — had to say: 

The Republican Party I know and love is the party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan.”I wear a bracelet bearing the name of a fallen hero, Matthew Stanley, which his mother, Lynn, gave me in 2007, at a town hall meeting in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. His memory and the memory of our great leaders deserve better from me.

In recent days, Donald Trump disparaged a fallen soldier’s parents. He has suggested that the likes of their son should not be allowed in the United States — to say nothing of entering its service. I cannot emphasize enough how deeply I disagree with Mr. Trump’s statement. I hope Americans understand that the remarks do not represent the views of our Republican Party, its officers, or candidates.

Make no mistake: I do not valorize our military out of some unfamiliar instinct. I grew up in a military family, and have my own record of service, and have stayed closely engaged with our armed forces throughout my public career. In the American system, the military has value only inasmuch as it protects and defends the liberties of the people.

My father was a career naval officer, as was his father. For hundreds of years, every generation of McCains has served the United States in uniform.

My sons serve today, and I’m proud of them. My youngest served in the war that claimed Captain Khan’s life as well as in Afghanistan. I want them to be proud of me. I want to do the right thing by them and their comrades.

Humayun Khan did exactly that — and he did it for all the right reasons. This accomplished young man was not driven to service as a United States Army officer because he was compelled to by any material need. He was inspired as a young man by his reading of Thomas Jefferson — and he wanted to give back to the country that had taken him and his parents in as immigrants when he was only two years old.

Captain Khan’s death in Iraq, on June 8th, 2004, was a shining example of the valor and bravery inculcated into our military. When a suicide bomber accelerated his vehicle toward a facility with hundreds of American soldiers, Captain Khan ordered his subordinates away from the danger.

Then he ran toward it.

The suicide bomber, striking prematurely, claimed the life of Captain Khan — and Captain Khan, through his selfless action and sacrifice, saved the lives of hundreds of his brothers and sisters.

Scripture tells us that ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’

Captain Humayun Khan of the United States Army showed in his final moments that he was filled and motivated by this love. His name will live forever in American memory, as an example of true American greatness.

In the end, I am morally bound to speak only to the things that command my allegiance, and to which I have dedicated my life’s work: the Republican Party, and more importantly, the United States of America. I will not refrain from doing my utmost by those lights simply because it may benefit others with whom I disagree.

I claim no moral superiority over Donald Trump. I have a long and well-known public and private record for which I will have to answer at the Final Judgment, and I repose my hope in the promise of mercy and the moderation of age. I challenge the nominee to set the example for what our country can and should represent.

Arizona is watching. It is time for Donald Trump to set the example for our country and the future of the Republican Party. While our Party has bestowed upon him the nomination, it is not accompanied by unfettered license to defame those who are the best among us.

Lastly, I’d like to say to Mr. and Mrs. Khan: thank you for immigrating to America. We’re a better country because of you. And you are certainly right; your son was the best of America, and the memory of his sacrifice will make us a better nation — and he will never be forgotten.

Chris Collins, Nick Langworthy, Carl Paladino — all of them have fallen in line behind the Donald Trump cult. Their obeisance to the Leader trumps even their loyalty to country, their duty to constituents, and their respect for fallen American heroes and their parents. 

Here is a statement released by Collins’ Democratic opponent, Diana Kastenbaum: 

Mr. Collins’ appearance today on MSNBC was insensitive to the Khan family and self-serving. As the representative of the people of NY-27 and a so-called advocate for Veterans it was even more thoughtless and uncaring.

Diana Kastenbaum said, “Collins continued to be Trump’s surrogate by reiterating the insults to the Khan family in his interview. To have a talking point, which he used not once but twice, saying that it happened 12 years ago made it seem somehow irrelevant. My response to Mr. Collins is — the loss of a child has no expiration date for one’s grief. Collins also stated that Mr. Khan is not immune from anything as he has entered the political fray; therefore he leaves himself open to condemnation and criticism. I would ask Mr. Collins, is that how we treat the memory of our heroes and Gold Star Mothers among us?”

Mr. Collin’s defense of the Trump attacks on the Khan family was another opportunity for him to stand by the Republican nominee and the divisiveness that he is inflicting on our country. 

The Democratic Party Chairs of the 8 counties comprising the 27th released this: 

The Democratic Chairs of the 8 counties that comprise New York’s 27th District condemn in the strongest terms Rep. Chris Collin’s outrageous statement on MSNBC this afternoon. As he desperately attempted to defend his chosen candidate’s criticism of the Kahns, the Gold Star family who criticized Donald Trump’s proposal to ban Muslim immigrants since it would have prevented their son who died heroically in the service of our nation from even entering the United States, Rep. Collins went way over the line.

Incredibly, he accused Mr. Kahn of using his dead son as a “shield” from criticism and suggested he deserved anything he got, since he had dared to enter the fray.

Veterans and their families make up a proud part of this congressional district. All of them understand better than Mr. Trump or Rep. Collins what sacrifice actually means. Capt. Khan died defending his men and our nation. His family deserves our thanks and our compassion.

Rep. Collins brags about his role as a surrogate for Mr. Trump, even saying a few weeks ago that he had appeared on cable television for Mr. Trump’s campaign over 100 times. We have to wonder how much he is even concerned with New York’s 27th district, in the midst of this whirlwind of activity.

We understand that Rep. Collins desperately wants his candidate to become president, since, as he admits, he hopes to be named Secretary of Commerce. Today’s comments prove there are no depths to which Mr. Trump can sink that he will not gladly follow. The voters of NY 27 deserve a representative who has as his priority the people of the district, not his own advancement. The many veterans and service families of NY 27 also deserve someone who understands and appreciates the sacrifices they made and continue to make. Rep. Collins clearly does not. 

The Khans were mean to the Leader? Grow up and take it like men. Your childish, petulant, and fundamentally mean-spirited hatred is unbecoming, and I hope the parents of servicemen and women throughout the 27th Congressional District are appalled by Collins’ callous and casual disregard for their family sacrifice. 

Chris Collins has no clue what valor is. He and every other Trump supporter owns the disrespect their Leader has for people like the Khans, whom they would indefinitely exclude from the United States based solely on their religion.