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EDITORIAL: Trump train or high road?

York Dispatch
  • Donald Trump’s criticism of a bereaved military family may be hurting his campaign.
  • Republican lawmakers and veterans groups hastened to distance themselves from Trump's behavior.
  • Those who continue to stand behind Trump send a message they condone his words and deeds.

Michelle Obama’s Democratic National Convention speech, widely regarded as one of the most affecting moments of the week-long event, provided one impressive moment after another in a year when many Americans are scratching their heads about the unlikely rise of Republican candidate Donald Trump — no matter what he does or says.

FILE - In this Thursday, July 28, 2016 file photo, Khizr Khan, father of fallen US Army Capt. Humayun S. M. Khan and his wife Ghazala speak during the final day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump broke a major American political and societal taboo over the weekend when he engaged in an emotionally-charged feud with Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the bereaved parents of a decorated Muslim Army captain killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq. He further stoked outrage by implying Ghazala Khan did not speak while standing alongside her husband at last week's Democratic convention because they are Muslim. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

He himself — now infamously — said he could go out onto Fifth Avenue in New York City and shoot someone and his supporters wouldn't desert him.


At the convention, Obama’s speech contained one of many phrases that seem particularly apropos at this moment in history:

“When they go low, we go high.”

The Latest: First lady calls out Trump, 'hateful language'

The latest, and some believe most outrageous, case in point: Trump’s repeated criticism of a bereaved military family, who also spoke at the convention in Philadelphia.

Republican lawmakers and veterans groups hastened to distance themselves from Trump's behavior, according to an Associated Press report, but he refused to back down. He complained that he had been "viciously attacked" by the parents of a Muslim U.S. Army captain who was killed in Iraq.

Arizona Sen. John McCain, a former prisoner of war, led the charge, saying Trump did not have "unfettered license to defame those who are the best among us." The Veterans of Foreign Wars, the nation's oldest and largest veterans organization, called Trump out of bounds for tangling with Khizr and Ghazala Khan, whose son was killed in 2004, the AP reports.

"Election year or not, the VFW will not tolerate anyone berating a Gold Star family member for exercising his or her right of speech or expression," VFW leader Brian Duffy said.

In an emotional appearance at last week's convention, Khizr Khan criticized Trump for proposing to temporarily freeze the entry of foreign Muslims into the U.S. and accused him of making no sacrifices for his country. The billionaire businessman challenged that assertion and also implied Ghazala Khan's religion prevented her from speaking. She later said in an interview that she was simply overcome with emotion at the magnitude of the moment.

Bipartisan backlash for Trump

Amid the controversy, in Pennsylvania, William Cinfici, John Fielding and Connor Kurtz quit the Berks County Republican Committee on Monday. The men said they disagree with Trump's policies and say he doesn't uphold Republican principles and is unfit to be president.

Kurtz called Trump "an unstable wannabe strongman" and quoted President Abraham Lincoln in resigning, saying, “A house divided against itself cannot stand." Kurtz also says, "The modern Republican Party would have done well to apply Lincoln's logic to our own party."

Other voters and politicos have begun to jump off of the low — but fast-moving — Trump train in favor of traveling the high road, as well.

Because at the end of the day, you really can't say you endorse him, or will vote for him, without having his words, values and deeds ascribed to you, as part of a value system you condone. There is no compartmentalizing here, at least none that anyone will truly buy.

Trump isn't the school bully that supporters can stand behind, a bully who will do their name-calling and other, more egregious, bidding for them while their hands remain clean.

He has now bullied a Gold Star family.

And if you stand behind him, you stand with him — and all he stands for.

— The Associated Press contributed to this editorial