A Veteran’s Response to Allen West

Guest post by Combat Cav Scout. His opinions as written here do not represent or reflect those of the Department of Defense or the U.S. Army. Title photo courtesy Politico.

I don’t, as a general rule, give much mind to the opinions of war criminals. So imagine my astonishment as I sit here with a browser window open and displaying a blog post written by war criminal Allen B. West. The blog post, which you can read here, is about what I would expect from West in terms of tone and position. But the topic of discussion was what caught my eye and my attention. In this instance, West states that he has “a PERSONAL message for the Muslim father whose son was killed in Iraq.” So I decided that it was high time to get my hate-read on and I dove right in. And – surprise, surprise – it left me furious.

Let’s start with the headline: “I have a PERSONAL message for the Muslim father whose son was killed in Iraq.” Grammar and unnecessary emphasis via capitalization aside, this headline pisses me off. West, a former Army officer, decides from the very beginning that he will not name the Gold Star Father whose son gave the last full measure in Iraq. He does not call him “Mr. Khan” or even “Khizr Khan” in the headline, but reduces him to “the Muslim father.” The deliberate depersonalization of Mr. Khan in the headline is telling. It is a reflection of West’s readership, to whom he is pandering – hardcore right-wing Islamophobes who will have a visceral reaction to any mention of the word “Muslim.” Mr. Khan spoke at the Democratic National Convention on national television and became an instant celebrity; there is no reason to avoid using Mr. Khan’s name in the headline other than to point out his Muslim faith to readers.

West asserts that “It appears things have devolved into such a level of immaturity relating to the speech that I believe there’s a need for a clear analysis of Mr. Khan’s address, and what he should have presented.” For those in the back who might not have heard, Allen West said that there is a need for him to educate the world on what Mr. Khan “should have said.” What a Gold Star Father whose son was killed in Iraq for this country should have said. “Hey, I know your son was killed saving his soldiers in a foreign country, but please sit down and be quiet so I can tell you how to feel and what to say.” According to West, Mr. Khan is thinking and feeling and saying the wrong things about his son’s death. Can you imagine, can you fathom a universe in which such an implication would be okay? Because I can’t. Shame on you, Allen West.

“Their son and I share an unbreakable bond,” West writes. Personally, I find it ridiculous for West to make such a statement. Captain Humayan Khan’s service to our country ended in an act of heroism which claimed his life, the life he sacrificed to protect his soldiers from a suicide bomber. Allen West’s service ended when he was forced to retire after committing a multitude of crimes against an Iraqi policeman being held as a detainee. The detained police officer was beaten in front of West, who then fired his pistol in the air, counted down from five, and fired his pistol again next to the police officer’s head. Every one of these actions is a crime. West’s service is marred by illegal and cruel treatment of a detainee. Captain Khan’s service is marked by courage, sacrifice, and heroism. For West to compare the two is unconscionable.

From here, West proceeds to harangue Mr. Khan, a man who immigrated to this country and then gave his son for love of it. And he does it in the standard way: with lies and venom and an assumption that he, West, somehow knows better.

West presumes much in his open letter to Mr. Khan. “Undoubtedly you would agree,” he writes, “we have witnessed a few unconstitutional actions from [President Barack Obama.]” Undoubtedly you would agree, Mr. Khan. Undoubtedly. West then takes the opportunity to use his presumptuous speech to Mr. Khan to attack Secretary Hillary Clinton for the scandal surrounding her use of a private e-mail server. “Perhaps Mr. Khan,” he goes on, you could have addressed the necessity for high standards of honor, integrity, and character in a commander in chief.”[sic] Here, I agree with West. These traits are incredibly important in a President. Honor – like when Donald Trump promised to give $6 million to veterans’ charities but had to be held to that promise by journalists. Integrity – like when Donald Trump has been caught in lies too numerous to mention. Character – like when Donald Trump made sexist statements about Fox reporter Megyn Kelly, publicly bullied a disabled journalist, or mocked a POW for being captured. I have to wonder if Allen West is wise to invoke these personality traits when the candidate he is supporting for President seems to have none of them. West asserts that Captain Khan would not have been treated in the same manner as Secretary Clinton had Captain Khan kept the same type of e-mail server as Clinton. I wonder what sort of sentence a junior enlisted soldier would receive for allowing a detainee to be beaten and then performing a mock execution, because I seriously doubt it would end at a $5,000 fine and a retirement with full benefits.

West then doubles down on the right-wing histrionics by writing that he finds it “interesting” that Mr. and Mrs. Khan “would take the stage to support a sitting president and one desiring to be president, who had abandoned Americans in a combat zone and lied about it.” Here, one can only assume that West is referring to the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya that resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Except, according to the House Select Committee on Benghazi led by Republican Representative Trey Gowdy, President Obama actually did attempt to help the Americans under siege in Libya. “Despite President Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s clear orders to deploy military assets, nothing was sent to Benghazi, and nothing was en route to Libya at the time the last two Americans were killed almost 8 hours after the attacks began.” (pages 141-142) The Secretary of State (that being, at the time, Hillary Clinton) doesn’t deploy military forces. That’s not her job. That’s the job of the Secretary of Defense, as directed by the President – both of whom ordered military forces to Benghazi to render aid. Neither the President nor Secretary Clinton “abandoned Americans in a combat zone.” Again, remember that these are the words from the official findings of the House Select Committee on Benghazi. This committee worked very publicly to find any possible blame which they could lay at the feet of President Obama and – especially – Secretary Clinton. If the Committee had found such evidence of betrayal or abandonment, one would imagine that it would have been shouted from the rooftops. This means that Allen West is either outright lying, or he is woefully and willfully uninformed considering that the report is available publicly online.

“Or perhaps, as it seems, your speech was politically driven, and not based on principle? After all, you did take the stage before a crowd that disrespected a Medal of Honor recipient…is that cool with you?” It’s funny to me that West would accuse a Gold Star family of using their son for selfish political ends, then immediately decry the disrespect which a small fraction of the audience showed toward Medal of Honor recipient Captain Florent Groberg. (By the way, Florent Ahmed Groberg is also an immigrant of French and Algerian descent, but no one from the Republican party is admonishing him for endorsing Hillary Clinton for President. It would be super nice if the GOP could at least spout consistent vile rhetoric.) Why doesn’t West reprimand General Allen for appearing on the stage in front of a crowd which disrespected Captain Groberg? Why doesn’t West rebuke Captain Groberg for appearing on the same stage, in front of an audience which disrespected General Allen? West is punching down in the most obvious way, but it couldn’t be because the Khans are Muslim, could it? I mean, it’s not like West has a history of abuse toward Muslim people… oh, wait.

Now come perhaps the most vile parts of West’s blog post. Addressing Mr. Khan, West writes that “those of us with knowledge could just as easily bring attention to SGT Hasan Karim Akbar and Major Nidal Hasan, both Muslims serving in the U.S. Army.” Sure, your son was a hero, but what about the two Muslims who committed acts of terrorism?! I don’t recall West ever mentioning men like Lee Harvey Oswald, Timothy McVeigh, Edward Lin, Charles Whitman, or any of the veterans who have joined the so-called militia movement. According to the Department of Defense, there are over 5,000 Muslims currently serving in the United States armed forces. But because West can name two, he insists that Captain Khan’s noble and heroic sacrifice – and the service of all the other Muslim service members – is cancelled out. I wonder how West would feel if someone were to pigheadedly suggest that we should cancel out all black service members’ deeds because of his misconduct.

The remainder of the blog post is spent informing Mr. Khan what he should have said during his speech at the Democratic National Convention. According to West, Mr. Khan should have explained how “humble and thankful” he is to live in America (which he did). According to West, Mr. Khan should have repeated the lie about President Obama abandoning “Americans in combat.” According to West, Mr. Khan should have expounded upon the incredibly bigoted words of Winston Churchill wrote about Islam. These parents stood on that stage in front of the world to honor their son – killed in combat against the enemies of the United States – and to state their opposition to Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant policies. And West insists that, instead, they should have spent their time denouncing their own religious faith. The amount of gall it takes to contend such a thing is mind-boggling.

West decides to finish strong, of course, admonishing a Gold Star Father for having the nerve to speak his mind about his own son. “Mr. Khan, I grieve for the loss of your son. However, I grieve even more that you used his sacrifice and loss as nothing more than a damn politicized stunt. May God forgive you for it.” I eagerly await West’s blog post featuring a similar tongue-lashing to Patricia Smith after her speech at the Republican National Convention.

West is either willfully ignorant or a blatant liar. He is a dishonored criminal and a disgrace to all who wear or have worn the uniform. He is not fit to speak to the manner of Captain Khan’s service, nor to the opinions of Mr. and Mrs. Khan. He has a forest full of timber in his eye, and he has the nerve to dress down the parents of a fallen war hero who don’t owe anyone an explanation as to their opinions. Allen West should be ashamed of himself for daring to write this vile hit piece, and I hope he understands that he will never be half the American that Khizr, Ghazala, and Captain Humayun Khan are.

Shame on you, Allen West.

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