Leading Fundie Radio Host Questions Patriotism Of A Gold Star Dad (WITH AUDIO)

Sandy Rios at a tea party rally in 2013 (image from Rios' Facebook)
Sandy Rios at a tea party rally in 2013 (image from Rios’ Facebook)

By now, you’ve heard about Donald Trump’s disgraceful smearing of Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of the late Army Captain Humayun Khan. But it turns out that on the day Trump first began his outrageous attacks on a Gold Star couple, a prominent Christianist radio host managed to outdo the Donald in smearing the Khans. How do you get worse than suggesting that a Muslim Gold Star mom who is still raw from her son’s death didn’t speak for herself because her husband didn’t allow it? Easy. Suggesting that a Muslim Gold Star dad doesn’t really love his adopted country.

Sandy Rios, the morning drive time host on American Family Radio, felt that she needed to use Friday’s show to bring some “clarity” to Khizr’s riveting speech. Her idea of “clarity,” however, amounted to modern-day McCarthyism. People for the American Way’s Right Wing Watch got a clip.

Rios declared that Khizr had an obligation to “distinguish himself from the Muslim Brotherhood, whose treatise is to destroy us from within.” As far as she was concerned, no truly “patriotic, loyal, American Muslim” has the right to attack Trump or anyone else “for having concerns about Muslims in our midst.” As far as Rios is concerned, the only way Khizr will have any credibility with her is if he would “stop waving the Constitution” and instead condemned radical Islam with the same fury that he used to condemn Trump.

Really, Sandy? So if American Muslims really love this country, they wouldn’t speak out against a man who first called for a blanket ban on Muslim immigration, then “softened” it to a ban on countries that have been “compromised” by terror. Either definition would have kept the Khans from even coming to the United States in the first place. Expecting a “patriotic, loyal, American Muslim” to keep quiet about such blatant discrimination is no different from telling me, a black man, to sit down and shut up about racism.

It went downhill from there. Rios repeated the old far-right shibboleth that a true believer in Islam “cannot embrace the Constitution.” While she’s willing to be persuaded that Khizr has “a different view,” she added that he has no right to speak out against those who have “genuine and rightful concerns about Muslims in our midst when we have no idea who they are or what they really believe.”

Then Rios engaged in her lowest blow of all.

“And we’re not even sure about you, sir, because we know about taqiyya, which is the practice of lying to the infidel in order to advance the Muslim cause.”

I had to listen to this twice to believe what I was hearing. Unless I heard this wrong, Rios seemed to suggest that the only reason Khizr went after Trump is because he’s a closet Islamist. I can’t even.

I’ve learned to expect very little from AFR. After all, it plays host to the likes of Bryan Fischer, a guy who thinks that the First Amendment only protects Christians and would have you believe that opposing special status for the Bible amounts to “doing the devil’s work.” Rios herself apparently thinks that when someone calls for liberal professors to be “taken out and shot,” he’s only speaking “words of life” to them. But even by religious right talk show host standards, this is beyond outrageous.

Let’s review, folks. Humayun Khan was a hero by any definition. He was blown up by an IED in 2004 after getting his men to safety. His father and mother were so outraged by Trump calling for measures that wouldn’t have allowed them to even come to this country, let alone allow their son to serve his adopted country, that they felt they had to take a stand. Ghazala is still so shaken by the loss of her son that even now, 12 years later, she can’t bring herself to look at his picture–the main reason she merely stood in silence and let the nation feel her pain while her husband laid into Trump.

And now Rios suggests that by speaking out against Trump, Khizr is only waving the Constitution to hide that he’s really a radical Islamist. Riddle me this, Sandy. Would you be willing to say that to Khizr and Ghazala’s faces, rather than from the comfort of your studio?

I’ve heard some pretty outrageous things from fundies and Christianists over the years. But this has to stand as one of the worst, if not the worst. It would be no less outrageous if Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow, or Lawrence O’Donnell suggested that Patricia Smith could only blame Hillary for her son’s death in Benghazi if she had been a closet birther. They would have been forced to apologize right away, and even that may not have been enough to save their jobs.

This should be no different. Rios must issue a full and unreserved apology to the Khans. And if she isn’t willing to do it, AFR needs to show some decency for once and fire her. It’s one thing to smear politicians. But smearing a Gold Star family in this way is not acceptable. Period. Let Rios know what you think–politely, of course–on Facebook and on Twitter. You can also tell AFR what you think on their Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Darrell is a 30-something graduate of the University of North Carolina who considers himself a journalist of the old school. An attempt to turn him into a member of the religious right in college only succeeded in turning him into the religious right's worst nightmare--a charismatic Christian who is an unapologetic liberal. His desire to stand up for those who have been scared into silence only increased when he survived an abusive three-year marriage. You may know him on Daily Kos as Christian Dem in NC. Follow him on Twitter @DarrellLucus or connect with him on Facebook. Click here to buy Darrell a Mello Yello.