Donald Trump has responded to the anguished father of deceased US Army Captain Humayun Khan in a way that, as Ezra Klein described, was despicable even for Trump.
Khan’s father — Khizr Khan — spoke at the Democratic National Convention, arguing that Trump’s calls to ban Muslims from entering the US violate the Constitution, and that Trump hadn’t made any sacrifices like the Khans for their country. But during the speech, his wife Ghazala stood silently beside him. On Saturday, Trump implied that she didn’t speak because the Khans’ Muslim faith didn’t allow her to, and suggested that he, as a wealthy billionaire running a business, had made sacrifices, too.
The latter suggestion is obviously wrong — working really hard at your job is not like losing a child to war. But based on an interview with MSNBC, Trump’s first suggestion was totally wrong, as well: Ghazala Khan didn’t speak because she was just too grief-stricken to, not because her Muslim faith stopped her. (Plus, the Khans were endorsing a woman for president — giving a pretty powerful voice to women.)
Here’s the transcript of the MSNBC interview:
Ghazala Khan: First of all, I think all America who listened from their heart to my husband’s and my heart, and I’m so grateful for that. It was very nervous because I cannot [look at] my son’s picture. I cannot even come in the room where his pictures are. And that’s why when, I saw [his] picture [on the video screen behind me], I couldn’t take it. I controlled myself at the time. So it was, it is very hard.
Khizr Khan: … She is my coach. I would think of something … and she would say, ‘No, don’t say this.’ So she was my coach. She was there. I was strengthened by her presence. Forty years of marriage has brought us in a position where we are strength for one another. So her being there was the strength that I could hold my composure. I am much weaker than she is in such matters. So it was her strength that made me stand there and address a candidate for a major party for the highest office of this country. And nobody has been able to convince this candidate for the highest office of this exemplary democracy in the world to not violate the Constitution of the United States. We have quietly watched his speeches, his bullying — schoolyard bullying — and we have sat — some intelligent people like yourself and others have commented — yet nothing has made the difference.
So Ghazala Khan chose not to speak because it was just too difficult for her, emotionally, to speak about her son. Still, she actually coached her husband as he prepared for the speech, letting her voice and emotions speak through him. She was, as Khizr described, an invaluable partner through the whole event — perhaps the most powerful speech at the Democratic convention.
To sum up, Trump’s response to mourning parents who had lost their son to war was to lash out at their religion — by suggesting that their faith forced the mom into silence. This not only shows a total lack of empathy and sympathy for grieving parents of a veteran, but it was just totally wrong, based on the Khans’ account.