Saturday, July 30, 2016

Donald Trump, can you hear Ghazala Khan now?

"I'd like to hear his wife say something."

That was Donald Trump's vile response (snippetted by Maureen Dowd)  to the riveting on-stage appearance at the Democratic convention of Khizr and Ghazala Khan, parents of an army captain, Humayun Khan, who sacrificed his life in 2004 to protect his men and Iraqi civilians from a car bomb.  Mrs. Khan stood silently beside her husband while he questioned Trump's understanding of the Constitution and fitness to be president.

Trump elaborated in an interview on ABC this morning: "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."

Well, it turns out that Mrs. Khan did say something -- last night, on Lawrence O'Donnell. Twelve years after her son's death, she expressed unbearable grief with an extraordinary eloquence that seems born of long years of endless interior replay.  James Fallows provides the segment (and the appropriate denunciation of Trump's barbarity) here.  Mrs. Khan speaks first at 2:35.*

Here is a transcription of the crux, but you have to hear it. Her short narrative hinges on two words, hero and son, in point/counterpoint:

He told me, Mom, I have a responsibility that I can not deny. I have to be taking care of my soldiers, because they depend on me.  But still I was keep telling him, "be safe, and don't become hero for me. Just be my son. Come back as a son.  
There's then a pause, and O'Donnell begins to address a  question to her husband. She interrupts, or rather finishes, after a breath, sobbing:
He came back as a hero.
I read those words in a news account before I heard the segment, and  I imagined "he came back as a hero" spoken proudly. But Mrs. Khan sobbed it out.. She obviously would give anything to have the son.  "Hero" is bitter, bitter consolation.  On a good day, Shakespeare might have captured grief like that.

Hero, son, son...hero. The words toll like a bell. I don't think Donald Trump will hear them.

*A second segment, in which Mrs. Khan recounts her last conversation with her son, on Mother's Day 2004, begins at 5:15 and is also memorable.

1 comment:

  1. Damn ...the Khan's ARE America!

    white supremacist ideology is the foundation and source of American racism and demands that its practitioners NOT see the humanity in their fellow Americans!