In an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Donald Trump responded to Khizr Khan’s highly memorable speech of last week by picking on his wife, Ghazala Khan. This Gold Star mother stood next to Mr. Khan on stage last Thursday as the 66-year-old immigration attorney from Virginia directed his searing remarks at Trump, including these quotes finding their way into hashtags, gifs and poster board signs across America: “Have you even read the US constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy” and “You have sacrificed nothing and no one.” (Watch the short and powerful speech here.)
Seen at Clinton's first OH event: 72-year-old Veteran, Paul Perantinides, holding sign quoting Khzir Khan pic.twitter.com/8WbXI7Shcy
— Liz Kreutz (@ABCLiz) July 31, 2016
Trump’s response didn’t do much to convince anyone that he’s read the Constitution or made any actual sacrifices (See #TrumpSacrifices for reactions to his nonresponsive list of personal “sacrifices”). But he did manage to offend, of course. He took the so-low-it’s-subterranean road, implying that Ghazala Khan was silent during the speech because she wasn’t “allowed” to speak due to the couple’s Muslim faith, pandering to Islamophobic attitudes.
“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.”
Trump also brought up Ghazala’s silence on the stage in an NYT interview with Maureen Dowd:
On the poignant appearance of Muslim lawyer Khizr Khan and his wife, whose son, Humayun, an Army captain, posthumously received a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery after he was killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq in 2004. As his wife, Ghazala, stood silently by his side, Khan held up a copy of the Constitution and asked Trump if he had ever read it and said, “You have sacrificed nothing.”
“I’d like to hear his wife say something.”
First off, let’s acknowledge that Ghazala Aunty spoke volumes with her grief and with her presence, more than words could ever say. During the seven-minute speech by her husband Khizr, her quiet dignity and the emotions she expressed hit home more powerfully than words, showing that the day in 2004 when she lost her son Humayun probably still feels like it was yesterday every time she thinks about him or sees a picture of him.
No one should have to explain the understandable choice to stay silent in a deeply personal and public moment of grief. But Ghazala did that too in an interview with MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell. If Donald Trump really wants to hear Ghazala Aunty say something he should listen up and watch this video (partial transcript of the parents’ comments shared below the video).
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.
Ghazala also spoke out in an ABC interview to respond to Trump and challenge the implications in his comments about Islam and women.
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) July 31, 2016
If that isn’t enough for Donald Trump’s liking, he can get more of Mrs. Khan’s words in today’s Washington Post, where she has written an op-ed addressed to him.
Twitter on Ghazala Khan
Here is what Trump had to say about Ghazala Khan, who still finds it hard to look at photos of her fallen son. pic.twitter.com/vLm3YMm9MA
— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) July 30, 2016
There's only one way to talk about Gold Star parents: with honor and respect. Capt. Khan is a hero. Together, we should pray for his family.
— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) July 31, 2016
It breaks my heart that she even had to justify her silence. https://t.co/ctd5n5478o
— Sabrina Siddiqui (@SabrinaSiddiqui) July 31, 2016
— Deepa Iyer (@dviyer) July 31, 2016
— goldngater (@goldngater) July 30, 2016
Ghazala Khan can't talk about her son without breaking down. So she wrote about him in the Washington Post instead: https://t.co/ZOZDMOMWvD
— Ghazala Irshad (@ghazalairshad) July 31, 2016
— Thanh Tan (@TanInSeattle) July 31, 2016