By most accounts, the heart-wrenching moment of the Democratic National Convention was when the parents of slain war hero Humayun Khan appeared. His father, Khizr, spoke eloquently and deeply-movingly about his son and their love of country, not just as Muslim-Americans, but as loving Americans -- and with his wife by his side then challenged Donald Trump directly, offering to lend him his pocket-copy of the U.S. Constitution and asking what the GOP nominee had ever sacrificed.
I was going to post an almost even-more moving appearance by the parents (if such a thing is imaginable), who on Friday Night were invited to MSNBC's The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell. And I will post it below, but first, because of a surprising occurrence, must make a slight addition.
Over the weekend, Donald Trump appeared on ABC and was asked about Khizr Khan at the DNC. And there are a lot of things one could say about Mr. Khan's words, even when in an awkward position as Trump would have been. But Donald Trump had to know he'd be asked about it, so there was plenty of time to put together a prepared, carefully-scripted answer. And it's easy. Here's the first thing that came to mind, without much effort: "I feel great sympathy for the parents on their loss, and applaud the heroism of their son who served America. Of course I've read the Constitution, and it's that very Constitution that I want to protect, which is why...blah blah blah."
Pretty easy. A quick comment of sympathy for the death of a soldier, deflect attention, and move on.
But no, he didn't say that. He didn't come close to saying that. And if you haven't seen or read what he said, you won't believe what he said. It's as cold-hearted cruel and slanderous as you can imagine -- expect that you probably can't imagine it. Because you're a sane human being with feelings.
What Donald Trump actually said was --
"His wife, 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. But plenty of people have written that. She was extremely quiet, and it looked like she had nothing to say. A lot of people have said that."
Really. That's what he said. The man who, if he becomes president (God spare us) will have to comfort many grieving parents who lost a child in the military defending America, whatever their political beliefs.
As Ezra Klein points out in a magnificent article on Vox here -- and do try to read it -- about Trump's attack of the grieving mother, Ghazala Khan, this wasn't an accidental slip of the tongue, because the GOP candidate for president said the same thing in an interview with the New Times Maureen Down, "I'd like to hear his wife say something."
Actually, no, Donald Trump would not like to hear Khizr Khan's wife say something. Because on Friday, when Ghazala Khan did say something to Lawrence O'Donnell, she explained that she was planning to speak that night, but when she walked out on stage and saw the large picture of her son, she was so GRIEFSTRICKEN that she couldn't say anything, not a word, and so had her husband speak instead.
Donald Trump makes his cruel, black-hearted slander snidely implying that, as a Muslim woman, she must not have been allowed to speak -- and please remember, this man wants your vote to be president of all the United States -- and blithely snaps off, "You tell me." Well, Ghazala Khan herself does tell him in this video below. And she explains herself so movingly and tellingly that it shows the Black Hole that is Donald Trump's sense of humanity.
I could explain more, but when I post the video below, Ghazala Khan explains it SO much better, with breaking-heart. She explains it with grace and eloquence, as well, in an op-ed she wrote here on Sunday in the Washington Post.
In his article, Ezra Klein quotes a famous line from lawyer Joseph Welch in his renowned take-down of Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-WI) in the Army-McCarthy Hearings in 1954, which helped end McCarthy's career. That was was when Welch said directly to the senator's face, "Until this moment, I think I never really gauged your cruelty."
So it is with Donald Trump.
And further, there is another comment that Welch also made to McCarthy at that time that is just as appropriate. "At last, sir, have you no shame?"
It is worth nothing that one of Donald Trump's mentors was Roy Cohn -- the heartless, disgraced lawyer for Joseph McCarthy on that same committee.
(And by the way, Donald Trump's ABC appearance is even worse. And yes, that's possible. He addresses the charge by Mr. Khan that he has sacrifice nothing in his life, and no one. To which Donald Trump replied -- "I've made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard. I've created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures. I've had tremendous success. I think I've done a lot." Actually, for all those things Donald Trump described, he was paid for. Paid very well for. It's known as WORK. Not sacrifice.)
Which brings us to the appearance on The Last Word by the parents of the late war hero, Bronze Medal-winner Humayun Khan.
This interview, as host Lawrence O'Donnell later explained in the broadcast, was supposed to be much shorter, but Khizr and Ghazala Khan were so eloquent and so moving that they were kept on the air for two, extensive segments. They're both wonderful, but the first segment is the most nationally-impactful. That's because Mr. Khan explains that what he said at the Democratic National Convention was only half of his speech. The other half was directed at two other political figures, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, but he left it out, and the host gives him the floor to complete his thoughts.
Again, I will happily let Khizr Khan speak far better for himself in the video below. I will only note that he speaks glowingly and graciously of Sen. McConnell and Speaker Ryan, and implores them that now is a time for conscience. There is more humanity in that first sentence that from everything Donald Trump has said since he announced he wanted to be the most powerful man in the world, and Command-in-Chief of the U.S. military.
The two segments last half an hour. And they're worth every moment. But at least watch the first. Though try to watch both. Mrs. Khan remains so griefstricken that she lets her husband do most of the talking -- even though he says she is the strong one -- so that when she does speak, it makes her words all the more powerful. In the second segment, O'Donnell asks a couple of questions that start to border on the uncomfortable, but the parents both handle them so beautifully that you're glad they were asked.
At the very end, you will see a simple gesture of appreciation by both that is so simple, and so moving that, to me, it is clear Lawrence O'Donnell is unable to speak. Rather than say, "We'll be back after this," he just lowers his head, and if you look closely, can seen his upper lip quiver.
"I'd like to hear his wife say something," Donald Trump sneered.
Okay, fine, here's what she has to say. And what Khizr Khan has to say. And no, Donald Trump -- the man who wants to lead all citizens of the United States -- won't like it.
But I think most other people will.
Here is the interview broken into two segments.
Despite saying "Full Interview," this is the second part of the interview. It will likely begin after a commercial -- and unfortunately cuts off quickly just before the very end.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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