Myeshia Johnson should be mourning in peace.
As she endures a specific sort of pain only a certain group of spouses will ever experience, she deserves the space to grieve, quietly. As a wife, mother, and pregnant woman who lost her husband, Sgt. La David Johnson, in service to his country, she has more than earned that right. No one of decency would strip her from that.
Alas, the President of the United States of America is no man of decency. He is callous, selfish, and self-serving. The trauma Johnson has had to deal with in the wake of her husband’s death —the result of an attack in Niger that is currently under investigation — has been magnified by President Trump’s megalomania and penchant for pathological lying. Some will argue that it is the fault of both Trump and Congresswoman Frederica Wilson for turning Sgt. Johnson’s death into spectacle, but that is nothing more than another stupid, senseless instance of “both sidesism.” Congresswoman Wilson, a family friend who referred to Sgt. Johnson as her “son” given the extensiveness of their relationship, merely answered a question about what President Trump told a grieving widow. And that question stemmed from President Trump lying on his predecessors about their calls to military families who lost loved ones in service, all while lying about his own record of dealings with Gold Star families.
The spectacle was carried on by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, who appeared before the nation to dehumanize Congresswoman Wilson, refusing to reference her by name and opting instead to refer to her as an “empty barrel” (that the likes of MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell have condemned for its racist implications). Kelly then proceeded to lie about remarks she gave several years ago. Immediately, Kelly was proven to have misrepresented Congresswoman Wilson, and while in those same remarks, he feigned an era in which women were purportedly “sacred,” the sanctimony he displayed there has gone missing as the calls for him to apologize to Wilson grow.
For all folklore to the contrary, Kelly is not an anomalous actor in the Honeysuckle Lenin Administration. No, he has proven to be just as quick to dismiss Black woman as Trump, as quick to race to hypocrisy as Trump, and as quick to stubbornly avoid the act of apologizing as Trump. John Kelly is a Trumpist and while Congresswoman Wilson has shown herself to be up to the challenge to speak truth to power, it’s Myeshia Johnson that’s been compelled to step away from the private time she needs in order to speak out.
So she did on Monday — mere days after she buried her husband — in an interview with George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America. Johnson confirmed Wilson’s account of Trump’s remarks as “100 percent correct.”
“I heard him say, ‘Well I guess you know he knew what he was signing up for, but it still hurts,'” Wilson revealed to ABC News. Johnson asked, “Why would we fabricate something like that?” As for why Wilson was allowed to listen in — a complaint from Kelly that oddly negates the fact that he, too, listened in on the call — Johnson recounted, “I asked Master Sergeant Neil to put his phone on speaker, so my aunt and uncle could hear as well.”
The more Johnson spoke, the more you felt for her as she had to contend with the empty, substance-deficient man she spoke with.
“I heard him stumbling on trying to remember my husband’s name, and that’s what hurt me the most, because if my husband is out here fighting for our country and he risked his life for our country, why can’t you remember his name?”
On how this made her feel, Johnson noted, “That’s what made me upset and cry even more, because my husband was an awesome soldier.”
There is one part of the interview in which Johnson smiles about her husband. In another, she grins about the third child she is expecting. Both serve as the most poignant parts of the interview because for all the controversy surrounding Sgt. La David Johnson’s death, in the end, you know that he was loved and loved deeply by a person who has known him since the age of six. That love gave way to a family, a family that now more than ever will need community to support them. I wish this were the end of this, but unsurprisingly, President Trump couldn’t resist the urge to make this about him.
This monster wouldn’t know respect if it crawled up his legged, grabbed him by the whatever, and laid eggs in that rug atop his head. The disrespect he and members of his administration have dealt Johnson’s family is unforgivable. However, part of Myeshia Johnson’s decision to speak to the nation comes with purpose outside of confirming our suspicions that once again, Trump has lied. For Johnson, she needs to know what exactly happened to her husband. How he died. Who is responsible? Why was his body left there and how did it even get so far from the place he was originally attacked to begin with?
She didn’t deserve her tragedy turned into another Trump-led distraction, but she does deserve answers. It’s time Congress steps in to give to her. We already know the president can’t do much for her.