How else can we get Trump to respond to the parents of fallen war hero Army Captain Humayun Khan - who died in Iraq (note: I erroneously had this as Afghanistan earlier) warning off his unit from what turned out to be a suicide bomber - by questioning and belittling the parents' grief and rage? (via Ezra Klein at Vox)
...And, yes, the Khan family is Muslim. Under Trump’s proposed policies, they would be innately suspect; had he been president when they immigrated to America, they would’ve been barred from entering, and Humayun Khan never would have served.
"Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery?" Khan asked Trump. "Go look at the graves of brave patriots who died defending the United States of America. You will see all faiths, genders and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing and no one."
Trump responded to Khan’s speech. I don’t know what I expected from Trump. Maybe he would show some gentleness. Maybe he would show some empathy. Maybe he would refuse to comment. Maybe he would attack Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s foreign policy leadership. All of those responses would have been fine.
Trump’s actual response, though, wasn’t fine.
"If you look at his wife, she was standing there," he said, on national television. "She had nothing to say. She probably, maybe she wasn't allowed to have anything to say. You tell me."
This wasn’t a slip of the tongue. In an interview with Maureen Dowd, Trump took the same tack. "I’d like to hear his wife say something," he said.
Let’s be very clear about what Trump is doing here: as ABC wrote, he’s suggesting "Khan’s wife didn’t speak because she was forbidden to as a Muslim." This is bullshit. It is flatly, verifiably, false. But that’s almost beside the point.
Trump listened to a speech by the bereaved father of a fallen Muslim soldier and used it to slander the fallen soldier’s family. That was his response. That is his character...
...If you would like to see Ghazala Khan speak, you can do so in this interview she gave to MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell. As Fallows writes, she breaks down sobbing while speaking of her son. It suggests she let her husband give the DNC speech for a simple reason: she remains overwhelmed by grief...
A sane response to being called out by a grieving family over the death of their child - sons and daughters all - on the battlefield is to express sorrow at their loss, and try to deflect their anger with a reasoned yet compassionate reply.
If Trump had any decency, he could have done as Klein suggested and shown some empathy: "I'm so sorry your son had to die like that." He could have said along the lines of "I would think every American should be proud your son saved lives in sacrifice of his own." Given Trump's political stance, he could have easily gone with "I understand you're upset about my wanting to block Muslims from coming to America as immigrants, but I'm looking at a bigger picture of stopping terrorists who come from radical Islamic regions and I'd like to think we can all work towards something that would be reasonable and fair." THAT would have fit exactly into Trump's messaging and he could have trudged on as uncaring as before.
He did none of that.
Trump's response was to ignore their pain altogether and attempt to mock the culture that the fallen soldier's parents come from. Which wasn't even remotely accurate in the first place.
As Klein notes, Mrs. Khan has a voice and has every right to speak it. She chose not to because she's still in emotional turmoil nearly a decade after her son's death.
This is a mother's burden. I've seen it. Any mother whose child dies before she does carries that, it is a blow to her far worse than any direct wound. Did you watch that speech, Mr. Trump? I could see, everyone I was sitting with at the watch party I went to that night could see it: Mrs. Khan was in pain. Anything she could have said would have come out only as tears.
Trump didn't even respond to Mr. Khan's direct accusation about Trump's lack of understanding the Constitution - which as immigrants Mr. and Mrs. Khan had to study to win their citizenship - which could have been acceptable given the challenge. Instead he went straight to attacking the parents' character.
This is the mark of the Politics of Personal Destruction: You can't attack the message so you attack the messenger. You disqualify your opposite and thus disqualify anything they represent.
Trump is the imposter Junius warned us of centuries ago: "The imposter employs force instead of argument, imposes silence where he cannot convince, and propagates his character by the sword."
Trump employs the stance of the bully: his is a history of lawsuits and attacks even on those who worked for him (that he then refuses to pay fair wages). He openly issues statements of violence and intimidation: "I would really like to punch those guys," "I can shoot someone in the middle of 5th Avenue and not lose any voters," and let's include his willingness to pay the legal fees of those who commit acts of violence in his name...
Trump imposes silence: he bans reporters he views as enemies, avoids open and honest debate - he's trying to lie his way out of the scheduled debates vs. Hillary as I type this! - whenever possible, and has openly admitted as President he would rewrite the libel laws to make it easier for him (and not others) to sue the media into quiet submission.
And Trump propagates his character with the sword of slander, slashing and hacking at everyone, critic and supporter alike, without a care in the world.
Gods help us should Trump ever get hold of a real sword like our nation's military and our federal law enforcement.