“Greater love hath no man than this,” the Bible tells us, “that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Surely none hath a greater sacrifice than the woman who lays down the life of her son for his country. On that, even in these parlous and precarious times riven 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 the sacrifice was made.
The mainstream media has been in a righteous froth for days over what it calls Donald Trump’s disrespect, or worse, of the parents of a Muslim soldier who died an American hero at the hands of radical Islamic terrorists in Iraq. It’s not at all clear that Mr. Trump intended disrespect, or that it was he who started what became a bitter public feud with Khizr Khan, a Pakistani-born Muslim immigration lawyer who attacked the Donald in a fiery speech at the Democratic National Convention, just now concluded in Philadelphia. Mr. Khan, from the depths of a father’s grief, said Mr. Trump was a man with “a black soul.” Mr. Trump answered in kind, as he always does, and the feud was on.
Mr. Trump has been painted in vivid colors by newspapers, magazines, television networks and internet news sites as the man with the blackened soul who hates dead soldiers.
Mr. Khan’s convention speech, given at the planning of Hillary Clinton, followed by a week a speech at the Republican convention by Patricia Smith, whose son Sean was one of the four Americans who died at the American consulate in Benghazi waiting for the rescue that Hillary, as secretary of state, never ordered. Mrs. Smith, unlike Ghazala Khan, was not a Gold Star mother, but she loved her son well, and like Ghazala Khan and other women who have given up sons, has never recovered from her grief. She never will.
She denounced Hillary Clinton with the fire and passion that Khzir Khan denounced Donald Trump, and said she holds Mrs. Clinton “personally responsible” for her son’s death in Benghazi. But neither she nor her dead son became the toast of an angry media. They became pariahs and figures of icy scorn from the media who celebrate Mr. Khan’s putdown of Donald Trump.
No sooner had Patricia Smith stepped down from the Republican platform in Cleveland than the personal attacks began. “I don’t care how that woman felt,” said Chris Matthews of MSNBC. Rachel Maddow of MSNBC said the mother’s speaking from a broken heart was “a spectacle so offensive it was hard even to comprehend.” Nation magazine said the speech was “a cynical exploitation of grief.” The New Yorker magazine called her remarks “a weaponization of grief.” The Washington Post said what Mrs. Smith represented was “an early dip into the gutter.” A writer for GQ magazine wanted “to beat her to death.”
Such reaction seems wildly out of proportion to one speech by one woman, particularly from those presumed to have been prepared by training and experience to observe, weigh and offer measured comment on the passing parade. Patricia Smith touched a raw and supersensitive nerve, and set the hounds howling.
The nerve, of course, is Benghazi, and Hillary Clinton’s role in the events at the U.S. consulate and a CIA annex on the night of Sept. 11-12, 2012 — the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001 — a date, like Dec. 7, 1941, that “stands in infamy.” Benghazi and Sept. 11 have become the great unmentionables in liberal lore, the third rail of politics that anyone touches at his 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 video critical of Muslims; this led to street riots across the Middle East and eventually to the deadly violence at the legation. This was the second myth and the president and the secretary of state nurtured to it for weeks.
Months later, Hillary let her impatience show with the impertinence of being held to account for her dismissive irresponsibility, with her famous retort at a Senate hearing: “Was [the assault] 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 that her son’s life and death was not dismissed as a mere footnote to Hillary’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 candidate for president. Mothers matter, and some mothers matter more than others.
• Suzanne Fields is a columnist for The Washington Times and is nationally syndicated.