When Chesley Sullenberger heard President Trump's daughter-in-law make fun of Joe Biden's stutter, it took him back to the pain and humiliation of his childhood in Denison, Texas. "I remember vividly the anguish of being called on in grade school, knowing that I was going to have a hard time getting the words out; that my words could not keep up with my mind, and they would often come out jumbled," Sullenberger writes in an op-ed piece in the New York Times. Lara Trump appeared to be mocking the former vice president's stutter at a campaign appearance Friday, per the Hill, when she said that when Biden begins to speak, "I'm like, 'Joe, can you get it out? Let's get the words out, Joe.'"
Biden has spoken about his own pain caused by a severe stutter as a child, Sullenberger writes, and regularly reaches out to and encourages children who stutter. Sullenberger recounts the physical reaction he had to being put on the spot, as well as the bullying that would come next. He worries about the effect of Trump's mocking, part of what he calls "a culture of cruelty" that keeps good people out of public service. He advises children who stutter to ignore people who don't know what it's like to stutter, telling them they can achieve anything. When he told the control tower he was going to have to land an airliner in the Hudson River in 2009, the pilot says, "my words came out with precision and control, even in the stress of a life-threatening emergency." For everyone else who needs to hear it, Sullenberger's message is: "Grow up. Show some decency. People who can’t have no place in public life." (Read Sullenberger's full column here.) (Sarah Sanders apologized for a tweet about Biden's stutter.)