Is it a face full of buckshot or Trump just being Trump? Whatever you may think about the Republican nominee, it’s sort of unsettling to see a major party candidate go after the parents of a fallen American soldier. Khizr Khan, who lost his son, Humayun, in Iraq—spoke at the Democratic National Convention, where he torched Trump for his ignorance on the Constitution (even offering his own copy for him to read) regarding the billionaire’s proposed Muslim ban.
Kahn said that his son “sacrificed his life to save the lives of his fellow soldiers,” and that Trump knows nothing of sacrifice. He also made the allegation that if Trump were president; his son wouldn’t have been allowed the opportunity to serve in the military.
Of course, Trump had to respond by going after Khan’s wife, Ghazala, telling ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, “If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably, maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say. You tell me.” As to the part about sacrifice, Trump said he has done so by creating tens of thousands of jobs, but also added that Clinton’s speechwriters probably added the line about him not knowing what sacrifice is. Trump recently released a statement calling Kahn’s son a hero, though he said that his father doesn’t have the right to criticize him:
Captain Humayun Khan was a hero to our country and we should honor all who have made the ultimate sacrifice to keep our country safe. The real problem here are the radical Islamic terrorists who killed him, and the efforts of these radicals to enter our country to do us further harm. Given the state of the world today, we have to know everything about those looking to enter our country, and given the state of chaos in some of these countries, that is impossible. While I feel deeply for the loss of his son, Mr. Khan who has never met me, has no right to stand in front of millions of people and claim I have never read the Constitution, (which is false) and say many other inaccurate things. If I become President, I will make America safe again.
Yeah, of course, that wasn’t going to smooth things over with Mr. Khan. On CNN, a visibly emotional Khan said that Trump’s attacks on his wife constituted the highest level of ignorance, as Gold Star families, especially the mothers, are held in the highest regard—as they should be. Khizr added that Ghazala is not in the best of health. Suffering from high blood pressure, she told her husband that she felt as if she would fall off the stage, but Khizr added that she needed to “assemble” herself to honor the tribute that the DNC offered them.
“This person is total[ly] incapable of empathy,” he said of Trump.
So, yes, this obviously was Trump being his typical self—and he stepped in it (again). It’s dubious whether this will hurt him with voters. Time will tell when the next polling data is released, but this is bad. To make matters worse for the Trump campaign, Ghazala penned an op-ed for The Washington Post responding to Trump’s remarks about her silence:
The last time I spoke to my son was on Mother’s Day 2004. We had asked him to call us collect whenever he could. I begged him to be safe. I asked him to stay back, and not to go running around trying to become a hero, because I knew he would do something like that.
He said, “Mom, these are my soldiers, these are my people. I have to take care of them.” He was killed by a car bomber outside the gates of his base. He died trying to save his soldiers and innocent civilians.
That is my son. Humayun was always dependable. If I was vacuuming the house and he was home, he would take the vacuum from my hand and clean the house. He volunteered to teach disabled children in the hospital how to swim. He said, “I love when they have a little bit of progress and their faces, they light up. At least they are that much happy.” He wanted to be a lawyer, like his father, to help people.
Humayun is my middle son, and the others are doing so well, but every day I feel the pain of his loss. It has been 12 years, but you know hearts of pain can never heal as long as we live. Just talking about it is hard for me all the time. Every day, whenever I pray, I have to pray for him, and I cry. The place that emptied will always be empty.
I cannot walk into a room with pictures of Humayun. For all these years, I haven’t been able to clean the closet where his things are — I had to ask my daughter-in-law to do it.
Donald Trump said he has made a lot of sacrifices. He doesn’t know what the word sacrifice means.
Yeah, there’s no real defense against this. It was totally unwarranted, and could’ve been a good point for Trump to learn one thing about becoming president: some people really, really don’t like you and will say things that will upset you—ignore them. There are bigger issues at hand. If Trump wanted to respond—and he shouldn’t—but if he had to, he could’ve kept the first two sentences of his July 30 statement, while adding that he wished Mr. Khan and the rest of his family the best. Frankly, a thank you for their service would’ve sufficed. There were certainly better things to say about this brief speech at the Democratic convention. At the same time, before we all get holier than thou about these awful remarks, let’s not forget that Hillary Clinton called Patricia Smith, the mother of Benghazi victim Sean Smith, a liar. We all knew things were going to get ugly this cycle, and it looks as if no time is being wasted in us reaching those moments that constitute the nadir of disgust for both campaigns.
Besides Trump’s terrible remarks, the most despicable part about this will be the fallout. The Trump and Clinton campaigns are going to play political football, ripping open this family’s wound in back and forth all in the name of political gain. There’s something incredibly unseemly about all of this.
Captain Humayun Khan was killed in 2004.
There's an easy answer for what to say to American heroes & families of the fallen. I learned it as a child: *Thank you* for your sacrifice.— Mary Katharine Ham (@mkhammer) July 30, 2016