Arrested Gold Star Dad Doesn’t Regret SOTU Outburst: ‘Don’t Think I Dishonored My Son.’ | Eastern North Carolina Now

    Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of the The Daily Wire. The author of this post is Megan Basham.

    Steve Nikoui, the Gold Star father arrested Thursday night for disrupting President Joe Biden's State of the Union address, tells The Daily Wire his only goal was to get Biden to acknowledge his son and 12 other service members who were killed during the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

    Nikoui said he struggled with the decision over whether or not to even attend the speech as a guest of Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL), who had invited him because Nikoui's son, U.S. Marine Kareem Nikoui, was one of thirteen troops killed when a terrorist set off a bomb at Abbey Gate in Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai International Airport.

    "It was an awkward dynamic," he says of his attendance at the speech. "I wanted to go, but I also didn't want to go. And when I was there, seeing the theatrics, the circus ... it just got to me."

    So when the president said Thursday that "America is safer today than when I took office," Nikoui recalled thinking, "Do you remember that my kid was not safe?" And that's when he stood and shouted his son's name and asked the president, "Do you remember Abbey Gate? U.S Marines?"

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    He then peacefully exited at the order of Capitol police. Once outside the chamber, the grieving father was placed in handcuffs and charged with a misdemeanor for "crowding, obstructing, or incommoding" during a protest - a charge that carries a fine of up to $500 and 90 days in prison.

    In a conversation that lasted more than an hour on Zoom, Nikoui presents himself as a typical dad on a typical weekend. He has no talking points or artful phrases, and he frequently digresses and loses himself in a memory before returning to an initial train of thought. He says he surprised himself as much as anyone when he found himself on his feet, interjecting from the balcony during the president's speech.

    Nikoui tells The Daily Wire he has the highest respect for the office of the presidency. But he was deeply offended during the 2022 State of the Union address when Biden brought up Afghanistan and, instead of honoring the sacrifices of the 13 KIA service members, immediately pivoted to talking about his own son, Beau, and climate change.

    "I remember I watched for like 56 minutes," he recalls, his voice cracking a bit with emotion. "And then finally [Biden] brings up Afghanistan. But he never said my kid's name, you know? I didn't even need him to say he made a mistake or take blame. I just wanted him to say, 'The United States will never forget the brave service of Staff Sergeant Taylor Hoover...' and then go on down the list of the other 12. Just say, 'We will never forget.' That's all he had to do. But he didn't do that. Instead, he beelined for, 'My son Beau died of cancer, and that's why I think the existential threat to our military is the burning of diesel fuel in burning pits. Because I think that's how Beau got his cancer.' I just started crying."

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    Nikoui has often since wondered why those closest to Biden - his wife and his other son, Hunter Biden - haven't encouraged him to show more honor to parents who have lost their children in Afghanistan: "Why isn't his wife isn't saying, 'Honey, you lost your own son when he was in the military. Say their names?' Why isn't Hunter saying that?"

    His arrest has shocked people on both sides of the aisle, including Democratic Congressman Dean Phillips (MN). "As a Gold Star Son myself, I can only imagine the pain he has felt since losing his son in Afghanistan," Phillips posted on X. "No one should interrupt a State of the Union Address, but if Marjorie Taylor Greene wasn't arrested for her outbursts, why should he [be]?"

    Nikoui blames the Biden administration for his son's death.

    "They were told to leave 2,500 troops there. 2,000 troops could have manned Bagram and then 500 extra to help. And that was in place in the agreement," he explained, referencing a withdrawal agreement made by former President Donald Trump. "But [Biden] took it to something like 136 troops. If they would have followed Trump's agreement, my son would be alive."

    "That's what America doesn't know," Nikoui said. "That [Biden] actually didn't follow the agreement."

    At a number of points during a lengthy conversation on Zoom, Nikoui pauses, however, to explain how important his Christian faith is to him, and how it compels him to forgive.

    "Even if Biden is the man who I believe killed my kid, for lack of a better phrase, my religion commands me that I have to forgive him," he says.

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    But still, he would like to see the administration held accountable for what he believes were serious errors in judgment that left U.S. troops in Afghanistan vulnerable. And for that reason, no matter what happens with his misdemeanor charge, he doesn't regret speaking up.

    "I don't think I disrespected anyone," he tells me before taking a deep breath, struggling to speak without breaking down. "I don't think I dishonored my son."

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