Opinion | Trump’s Inhumanity Before a Victim of Rape


Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the Harvard professor and four-term United States senator from New York, famously observed, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.”

Today, everyone is entitled to his own facts, or their own facts, since even grammar has changed. The message from the Trump White House, and from Boris Johnson’s rise to prime minister in Britain, is that facts don’t matter. The bald-faced lie is perfectly acceptable, so long as it keeps you at the center of what passes today for attention. The important thing is to feed the machine. Shock is the best fodder. Social media dies without outrage.

In the mid-1930s, a few years before World War II, Robert Musil, the author of “The Man Without Qualities” wrote, “No culture can rest on a crooked relationship to truth.” The political culture of both the United States and Britain is sick. It is unserious, crooked and lethal. There is no honest way to dissociate the rise of Trump and Johnson from the societies that produced them.

The triumph of indecency is rampant. Choose your facts. The only blow Trump knows is the low one. As the gutter is to the stars, so is this president to dignity. Johnson does a grotesque Churchill number. Nobody cares. The wolves have it; the sheep, transfixed, shrug.

Where are they now???

“They are in the mass graves in Sinjar,” Murad says. She is poised and courageous throughout in her effort to communicate her story in the face of Trump’s complete, blank indifference.

Why this extraordinary attitude from Trump? Well, at a guess, Murad is a woman, and she is brown, and he is incapable of empathy, and the Trump administration recently watered down a United Nations Security Council resolution on protecting victims of sexual violence in conflict.

At the mention of Sinjar, Trump’s unbelievable response is, “I know the area very well, you’re talking about. It’s tough.”

Let’s play how-well-does-President-Trump-know-Sinjar? It’s a wildly implausible game.

Toward the end of the exchange, Trump asks Murad about her Nobel Prize. “That’s incredible,” he says. “They gave it to you for what reason?”

“For what reason?” Murad asks, suppressing with difficulty her incredulity that nobody has briefed the president. Nobody can brief this president. It’s pointless. He knows everything. “I made it clear to everyone that ISIS raped thousands of Yazidi women,” she says.

“Oh really?” says Trump. “Is that right?”

Yes, that’s right. One reason this exchange marked me is that I found myself in 2015 in a Yazidi refugee camp in southeastern Turkey interviewing a survivor named Anter Halef. In a corner sat his 16-year-old daughter, Feryal. She sobbed uncontrollably. I had seldom seen such grief etched on a young face. Life had been ripped from her before she began to live. There was no road back for her. Her eyes were empty vessels left so by rape.

I have watched the Murad-Trump exchange several times. It is scary. This president is inhuman. Something is missing. In his boundless self-absorption, he is capable of anything.



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