BY PAUL SCHINDLER | Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump took a break this week from his daily routine of outrageous unscripted outbursts to make something of a serious — read: teleprompter-assisted — speech, this one about national security. His mission, though, was much the same as with his spontaneous utterings — to stir fear among voters — but in this setting, his remarks were organized, fleshed out in full sentences (at least in the official transcript), and, crucially, vetted by advisors.
A primary aim of the speech was to lend some intellectual coherence to his past frightening — and clumsy, from a policy perspective — demands that immigration be closed off to Muslims, or to people from Muslim countries, or to people from countries affected by radical Islamist terrorism. The coherence, he and his campaign now explain, comes from a new approach of “extreme vetting” of immigrants trying to enter the US.
A linchpin of the new approach would be evidence that prospective immigrants share allegiance to American values, expressed in rosy terms by Trump as a commitment to diversity and tolerance. America’s immigration system, he said, must safeguard such values, and the country must be prepared to wage “ideological warfare” against political systems that stand opposed to them. To draw that distinction, Trump returned over and over again to the threat radical Islamist ideology poses to gays, to women, and to young girls.
The problem here is that Trump’s celebration of these liberal democratic values is disingenuous. And, regarding LGBT rights, it continues an offensive effort he first launched in the immediate wake of the massacre at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, when, claiming, “I’m much better for gays than [Hillary Clinton] is,” he said, “We want to live in a country where gay and lesbian Americans and all Americans are safe from radical Islam, which, by the way, wants to murder and has murdered gays.”
Let’s check the record.
First, remember that Trump is running on a platform, adopted at his convention last month, that even the Log Cabin Republicans have judged “the most anti-LGBT” in the party’s history. That platform calls for a constitutional amendment to overturn last year’s Supreme Court marriage equality ruling; it endorses conversion therapy for LGBT minors; it advocates unprecedented religious carve-outs for businesses, individuals, and even government employees from LGBT nondiscrimination requirements; it opposes measures to allow transgender Americans to access bathrooms appropriate for their gender identity; and it denounces the judicial and legal trend toward treating sexual orientation and gender identity as forms of unlawful sex discrimination.
Trump is no unwilling hostage to that GOP platform. He has embraced Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, Jr., he’s put forward a list of potential Supreme Court nominees noteworthy for their hostility toward LGBT rights, he’s lavished praise on the late Justice Antonin Scalia and sitting Justice Clarence Thomas, the two most anti-gay court members in recent years, and he appointed as his running mate Indiana Governor Mike Pence — the champion of his state’s odious religious exemptions law last year and who once urged the diversion of HIV prevention dollars into LGBT youth conversion therapy programs.
As with LGBT rights, the GOP this year affirmed its longstanding hostility toward women’s rights — and their healthcare and right to choose, in particular. Earlier this year, in his zeal to prove himself a true believer, Trump even suggested that his preferred ban on abortion could lead to women being jailed.
Trump and his Republican Party’s attitudes toward women and the LGBT community are already despicable enough without their adding insult to injury by having their cynical show of tolerance be used as cover for their ugly xenophobia.