Donald Trump's “Repulsive” Attacks On The Khan Family Condemned Across The Spectrum

Media figures across the ideological spectrum condemned Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s attacks on Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of an American Muslim soldier who was killed while serving in Iraq in 2004, characterizing Trump’s comments as “repulsive,” and saying they show a “lack of a sense of decency” and “the gauge of his cruelty.”

Khizr Khan Criticizes Trump’s Anti-Muslim Pronouncements

Khizr Khan: Trump Has “Sacrificed Nothing And No One.” Khizr Khan, the father of a U.S. Army captain who was killed in Iraq in 2004, criticized Trump during a July 28 speech at the Democratic convention. Khan said that under Trump’s proposed Muslim ban, his son “never would have been in America” because Trump “wants to build walls and ban us from this country,” as reported by The New York Times. Khan asked Trump, “Have you even read the United States Constitution?” and noted the Republican nominee has “sacrificed nothing and no one.” From the July 29 New York Times:

[S]peaking about his son at the Democratic National Convention, [Khizr] Khan gave a voice to Muslim Americans outraged by the anti-Muslim pronouncements of the Republican nominee for president, Donald J. Trump.

In a speech that electrified the convention and turned Mr. Khan into a social media and cable news sensation, he waved a pocket Constitution and challenged Mr. Trump, “You have sacrificed nothing and no one.”


If restrictions on Muslim immigration had been in place decades ago, Mr. Khan said, neither he, a lawyer with an advanced degree from Harvard Law School; his wife, Ghazala, who taught Persian at a Pakistani college before raising three boys in the Washington suburbs; their eldest son, Shaharyar, who was a top student at the University of Virginia and a co-founder of a biotechnology company; nor Captain Khan, who posthumously earned the Bronze Star, along with a Purple Heart, for saving the lives of his men, would have been allowed to settle here.


“If it was up to Donald Trump, he never would have been in America,” Mr. Khan exclaimed about his deceased son during his speech, his wife by his side. Mr. Khan said that Mr. Trump “wants to build walls and ban us from this country.”

“Let me ask you: Have you even read the United States Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy,” Mr. Khan said, addressing Mr. Trump directly, while pulling a miniature version of the country’s founding document from his coat pocket. [The New York Times, 7/29/16]

Trump Lashes Out At The Khans, Claiming He Was “Viciously Attacked”

Trump Claims He Was “Viciously Attacked” By The Khans. Trump responded to the Khans in a series of interviews and tweets, NBC News reported. Trump disputed Khizr Khan’s claim that he hasn’t sacrificed anything saying he “made a lot of sacrifices” because he “created thousands and thousands of jobs.” Trump also questioned Ghazala Khan for being silent during her husband’s speech and complained that he was being “viciously attacked” by the Khan family. From the July 31 NBC News report:

Trump later appeared on ABC's “This Week” and was asked how he would answer the father's question about patriotic sacrifices.

“I think I made a lot of sacrifices,” Trump said. “I work very, very hard. I've created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs.”

In an interview with The New York Times, Trump mentioned Ghazala Khan, who was silent at the convention, saying that he wanted to hear her “say something.”


She penned an editorial in The Washington Post on Sunday, rebuking Trump's notion that she had nothing to say.

“Donald Trump has asked why I did not speak at the Democratic convention,” Khan wrote. “He said he would like to hear from me. Here is my answer to Donald Trump: Because without saying a thing, all the world, all America, felt my pain. I am a Gold Star mother. Whoever saw me felt me in their heart.”


Trump tweeted about the situation on Sunday afternoon to say he was “viciously attacked” by Khan. [, 7/31/16]

Media Condemnation Of Trump’s “Tactless” Attacks On The Khans Is Widespread And Overwhelming

USA Today Editorial Board: Trump’s “Tactless Response” Further Exposed His “Lack Of A Sense Of Decency.” USA Today’s editorial board wrote that Trump’s “tactless response” to the Khans helped to “further expose his lack of a sense of decency.” From the July 31 editorial:

Trump managed to top this with his tactless response to the Muslim American father whose son, an Army captain, died 12 years ago in the Iraq war and who charged at the Democratic convention that Trump has “sacrificed nothing and no one” for his country.


Trump added that he had indeed sacrificed by working very hard and creating thousands of jobs — rich stuff from a man who previously derided Sen. John McCain’s war heroism and who avoided military service himself during the Vietnam War with four student deferments and a medical deferment because of a bone spur in one of his feet.

Trump rose to his party’s nomination with appeals to bigotry and a call for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” The more he opens his mouth, the more opportunity voters have to figure out what is going on. Perhaps it is only fitting that it took the family of a Muslim American hero to further expose the candidate’s lack of a sense of decency. [USA Today, 7/31/16]

MSNBC’s Rick Tyler And Elise Jordan: Trump’s Response Was “Tone Deaf” And “Repulsive.” MSNBC contributors Rick Tyler and Elise Jordan called Trump’s response “tone deaf.” Tyler said Trump showed it was “hard to argue” against Khizr Khan, who said that Trump “had a black soul.” Jordan called Trump’s reaction “repulsive.” From the August 1 edition of MSNBC’s Morning Joe:

JOE SCARBOROUGH (HOST): Do you think the Khan controversy is going to have lasting impact with these voters?

RICK TYLER: I do. I think it was very significant. I think Donald Trump's reaction to Khan was just inappropriate, it was tone deaf. And Mr. Khan was on all the shows this weekend explaining in a very articulate way about how much he loved this country and how much his son loved this country and his son was a hero and that Donald Trump had a black soul and was incapable of showing empathy. And by Donald Trump's own reaction it's hard to argue that that wasn't true.

SCARBOROUGH: Yeah. What do you think, Elise? Does it having lasting power on this campaign?

ELISE JORDAN: I think it's something that everyone can really relate to at a human level, the empathy that you would have for someone losing a child, which is really the absolute worst thing that anyone can imagine. And his response was repulsive. And people -- you could be a hardcore Donald Trump supporter and have pause and say, “Woah, what's with this?” You can't compare losing a child to your business and employing people. That really shows a complete tone deafness. [MSNBC, Morning Joe, 8/1/16]

RedState’s Jay Caruso: Trump’s Comments Show He’s A “Thin-Skinned Narcissist” And “Terrible Human Being.” Jay Caruso, contributing editor of the conservative blog RedState, wrote that Trump’s response showed he was “a thin-skinned narcissist” and “a terrible human being.” Caruso added that “instead of politely disagreeing with the Khans while acknowledging their grief, he chooses to go the asshole route because that's who he is as a person.” From the July 31 blog post:

Donald Trump is such a thin-skinned narcissist, that even the slightest criticism causes him to lash out at people. In the process he makes himself look like a fool and because he's such a narcissist, he doesn't know when to just shut up and let things lie.


Trump, in another example of his stupidity as well as a wink and nod to his nationalist following says Mrs. Khan wasn't allowed to speak.


Naturally there are people defending Trump. Again. How in the world can people defend such a terrible human being?

Donald Trump had better wake up to reality: He's going to be criticized. From all sides. Yet, instead of politely disagreeing with the Khans while acknowledging their grief, he chooses to go the asshole route because that's who he is as a person. He spends more time engaging in pissing matches with people than running an actual campaign. [RedState, 7/31/16]

Hot Air’s John Sexton: Trump “Took A Wrong Turn Down A Rhetorical Dark Alley By Attacking Khan’s Wife.” Hot Air contributor John Sexton panned Trump’s response, saying he “took a wrong turn down a rhetorical dark alley by attacking Khan’s wife.” Sexton said that when asked about his own sacrifices, Trump should have “admit[ted] the obvious truth, i.e. some people have made greater sacrifices for this country than he has” and that his answer “makes little if any sense.” Sexton added that if Trump could not show respect “for a grieving gold star mom [he doesn't] deserve to be America’s commander-in-chief.” From a July 30 blog post:

Trump’s opening comments about Mr. Khan seemed respectful and about as good an answer as anyone could give under the circumstances. And then he took a wrong turn down a rhetorical dark alley by attacking Khan’s wife. He seems to be suggesting she wasn’t allowed to speak, probably because she’s a Muslim woman wearing a headscarf. Trump claims “a lot of people” have “written that.” Is he talking about Twitter? Where did he see someone say this about Khan’s wife? And again, even if he did see this somewhere else, why is he repeating it? For one thing, it’s not true. But the main point here is why go after the family of a dead American soldier? What more does this woman have to offer to earn a little respect?


Trump then bumbles the question about sacrifice.


The best Trump could have done here is to admit the obvious truth, i.e. some people have made greater sacrifices for this country than he has. Period. Instead, his next answer about his business makes little if any sense. Trump should have acknowledged the Khan family’s loss and then go on to say that he really cares about the sacrifices made by our military which is why he’s so concerned with the treatment of veterans. Trump tried to get there at the end of his answer but the opening bit about creating jobs for people was way off the mark.

The real problem here is that Trump made mistakes that were easy to avoid. Attacking a grief-stricken gold star mom is something you should know right away is a bad idea. You don’t have to agree with Mr. and Mrs. Khan’s politics to show respect for their loss. Frankly, if you can’t manage that much for a grieving gold star mom you don’t deserve to be America’s commander-in-chief. [Hot Air, 7/30/16]

Conservative Columnist George Will: Trump’s Attacks Show “There Is No Rock Bottom To American Politics.” Conservative columnist George Will said that in his remarks,Trump showed that “there is no rock bottom to American politics.” From the July 31 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:

CHRIS WALLACE (HOST): Trump has made these comments before, as specifically as Juan [Williams] said, back last summer, a year ago when he said that John McCain wasn't a war hero, it didn't hurt him particularly in the Republican primaries. Does it hurt him now we're in the general election?

GEORGE WILL: The straw that broke the camel's back did not break the camel's back, it was the cumulative weight, the critical mass of straws, and the question is, will there be a critical mass of these things? Just when you think American politics has hit rock bottom, Mr. Trump rises, or stoops, to the challenge of saying there is no rock bottom to American politics, and certainly attacking Gold Star parents is one of these things. His adherence, has said from the first, from June in 2015 when he entered the race, he tells it like it is. It's never been clearer to me what the antecedent of the pronoun “it” is. Today the antecedent of the pronoun is flaws intimidated about this Gold Star couple that we saw, and then begins a minuet that we're now all familiar with. Journalists do their duty and they call the office of Mitch McConnell and they call the office of Paul Ryan and say, “What do you think about this?” And they say, “Well we disagree with this too, but he still ought to be president of the United States.” I really can hardly wait to hear what Mike Pence has to say about this when he's asked today or tomorrow, as surely he will be, what he thinks of these remarks. The good news is this. The point of campaigns is to give voters information on which to base their decision, and they're getting a lot of relevant information. [Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox News Sunday, 7/31/16]

The Atlantic’s Ron Fournier: “People [Like Trump] Who Demonize People Like [The Khans] Are Not Worthy Of Their Son's Sacrifice.”

[Twitter, 8/1/16]

Huff. Post’s Sam Stein: Trump’s Attacks Were “Terrible” And “Baffling From Start To Finish.” Huffington Post editor Sam Stein called Trump’s response “terrible” and “baffling from start to finish.” From the August 1 edition of MSNBC’s Morning Joe:

JOE SCARBOROUGH (HOST): Sam Stein, he, Trump really got pounded yesterday for talking about the sacrifices that he made almost in real time after making the statements and it was, story was on fire the rest of the day.

SAM STEIN: He said the sacrifice he made was to make money. I mean, that was what he was saying. He built businesses to make money and that was the sacrifice he made. I don't see how employing people and paying for their health care constitutes a sacrifice. But it was just a series of terrible missteps here. I'm trying to think of a worse interview for a presidential candidate that I’ve seen. The closest is for vice presidential candidate and that would be Sarah Palin. But I can't remember something this bad. The questioning of the wife for not speaking, suggesting that it was because of her Muslim faith that she wasn't allowed to speak, then going off and saying that Khizr Khan didn't have the right to question his understanding of the Constitution, which is inherently ironic because the Constitution gives him that right to question it, and then to suggest that he sacrificed as much as Khizr Khan. I mean, it’s just, it was baffling from start to finish and you're seeing a lot of Republicans get very nervous about what's happening right now. Not necessarily mentioning him by name, but getting incredibly nervous here. [MSNBC, Morning Joe, 8/1/16]

The Guardian’s Amana Fontanella-Khan: Trump’s Response “Strayed Far From Societal Norms.” Guardian opinion editor Amana Fontanella-Khan wrote that Trump’s comments about Ghazala Khan “strayed far from societal norms, further than many feel comfortable with” and was a “bizarre battle against a broken-hearted mother and father.” From the August 1 piece:

Scrutinizing the silence of a grieving mother is an unusual move for a would-be president. So is the conspiratorial suggestion that she might have been silenced. But it fits Trump’s playbook. He deliberately paints minorities, especially Muslims, as being fundamentally different from other Americans. He questions everything about them. Even their grief.


It makes sense for Trump to disarm these outspoken adversaries in the way he knows best: painting them as inherently foreign and un-American. But in the process, he risks turning into the “foreign” one himself. He has strayed far from societal norms, further than many feel comfortable with.

America, like much of the western world, is going through a tumultuous time. Political discourse is coarsening. Fears are heightened. People are on edge. But that which makes us human – such the ability to feel empathy – has not vanished. Ghazala Khan believes that too, asserting: “All of America felt my pain.”

If she is right, then Trump might just find himself alone in this bizarre battle against a broken-hearted mother and father. [The Guardian, 8/1/16]

The Daily Beast’s Dean Obeidallah: Trump’s “Jaw Dropping” Attacks Were “Appalling.” Daily Beast contributor Dean Obeidallah wrote that “I didn’t think it was possible for Donald Trump to say anything more despicable than he has already served up in this campaign. But this weekend the GOP presidential nominee did just that twice,” calling his response “appalling” and “jaw dropping.” From the July 30 piece:

I didn’t think it was possible for Donald Trump to say anything more despicable than he has already served up in this campaign. But this weekend the GOP presidential nominee did just that twice.

First, he went after Ghazala Khan, the mother of U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan, who had received a Purple Heart for bravery after being killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom. And then stunningly Trump equated his work as a businessman as being a “sacrifice” akin to the sacrifice made by the brave women and men who have served in our nation’s armed forces.


It’s appalling that Trump would take a shot at a grieving mother. But that’s Trump.  


Just as jaw dropping as Trump’s refusal to praise the service of Capt. Khan and his vile attack on Mrs. Khan, was Trump equating his experience in business as being akin to serving in the U.S. military.  


I didn’t think it was possible for Donald Trump to say anything more despicable than he has already served up in this campaign. But this weekend the GOP presidential nominee did just that twice.


Who would even infer that working as a real estate developer, reality show host, etc. is anything close to the service of the men and women who have put their lives on the line to defend our country? Only a narcissist like Trump. [The Daily Beast, 7/30/16]

Wash. Post’s Greg Sargent: Trump “Sinks Even Further Into Wretchedness And Depravity” In His Response To The Khans. The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent wrote that Trump with his response was “sink[ing] even further into wretchedness and depravity, to a point of no return.” Sargent added that “Trump’s battle with the Khan family makes it harder and harder to avoid acknowledging the possibility that we really have no idea how low Trump will sink.” From the August 1 article:

Donald Trump’s continuing war with the Khan family — which Trump inexplicably continued to keep in the news this morning with a series of new tweets — raises the specter of a brutal trap for Republicans.

It’s this: If Republicans don’t break off their support for Trump’s candidacy now, they run the risk of having no choice but to do so after Trump sinks even further into wretchedness and depravity, to a point of true no return. (Presumably there is such a point.) At that juncture, their move will look unprincipled and desperate, leaving them stained — perhaps irrevocably — with their previous willingness to stick by him during much of his descent, and depriving their break with him of whatever moral force it might have had if done earlier.

Now, it is always possible that Trump will not sink any lower and will suddenly improve. But that is now looking like a much bigger gamble than it did before Trump’s war with the Khans began. [The Washington Post, 8/1/16]

Vox’s Ezra Klein: “What Kind Of Person Says These Things?”  Vox editor-in-chief Ezra Klein wrote that Trump “slander[ed] the fallen soldier’s family” in his response to the Khan family, saying it showed “his character” and “the gauge of his cruelty.” Klein asked, “What kind of person is Donald Trump? What kind of person says these things?” From the July 30 article:

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.


This is the woman Trump decided to slander. This is the gauge of his cruelty.

This isn't partisan. This isn't left versus right. Mitt Romney never would have said this. John McCain never would have said this. George W. Bush never would have said this. John Kerry never would have said this. This is what I mean when I write that the 2016 election isn't simply Democrat versus Republican, but normal versus abnormal.


This is not a question that needs to be asked in most elections, but it needs to be asked in this one: What kind of person is Donald Trump? What kind of person says these things? And is that really the kind of person we want to be president? [Vox, 7/30/16]