Home/Daniel Larison/Trump’s Sick ‘Surprise’ for Grieving British Parents

Trump’s Sick ‘Surprise’ for Grieving British Parents

In August, the wife of a U.S. diplomat struck and killed a British teenager named Harry Dunn with her car while driving on the wrong side of the road in the U.K. She had diplomatic immunity and fled the country last month. This month, the boy’s parents have been in the U.S. to seek help in having her sent back to Britain to face justice there. They were invited to the White House, where Trump sprang a cruel and insulting surprise on them:

The Dunn family, now in the United States to drum up support to send Sacoolas back to the U.K. to face justice, had accepted an “urgent” invitation by the White House from National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, to visit Donald Trump in Washington, D.C. Trump, it seems, thought he could convince the Dunns to meet the woman who killed their son, and would do so by opening a side door through which she would walk [bold mine-DL]. The whole scene would be captured by a pool of photographers who had been summoned for the meeting.

But the Dunns would have none of it and refused to meet her. Dunn family spokesman Radd Seiger said that the family felt “ambushed” when the “bombshell” was dropped that Sacoolas was next door.

The president was apparently eager to exploit this awful situation and insult the grieving parents of the dead boy by using them as props for a photo op. Instead of finding some way to remedy the injustice these people had suffered, the president and his National Security Advisor, Robert O’Brien, wanted to take advantage of their suffering as part of a public spectacle.

Reuters also reported on the story this morning:

Mark Stephens, the lawyer for Charles and Dunn, said national security adviser Robert O’Brien had the idea of overseeing a coming together of the families before they would then hug in front of an assembled media.

How devoid of empathy and common sense must someone be to think that this was the appropriate way to handle this matter? Trying to force the meeting between the parents and their son’s killer was tone-deaf enough as it was, but trying to get them to meet in public in front of cameras is just sick. Attempting to stage a phony reconciliation at this point makes no sense, and I would think any halfway decent person should understand that. This ugly episode illustrates what is wrong with the president very well. We see the same pointless cruelty and tawdry desire to put on a show, and we see the same utter lack of decency that we have come to expect. Unfortunately for the country, the president’s attempt to spring this sick “surprise” on the Dunns still manages to shock, but it doesn’t surprise us.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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