In a lengthy speech Monday afternoon, Donald Trump exploited the horrific violence of the Orlando anti-LGBTQ massacre to launch a major offensive against both Muslims and Hillary Clinton. There is much to parse in his frighteningly racist tirade against a major world faith tradition and the value of cultural pluralism upon which any meaningful definition of “America” must be based—stay tuned for explorations of how such a feat as screening all Muslim entrants “perfectly” for threats would even be accomplished.
But for the purposes of this post, I want to draw out a stunning piece of rhetorical jujitsu that Trump attempted, in which he cast Clinton as an enemy of queer people because she does not share his Islamophobic world view. Here’s the relevant passage:
Hillary Clinton can never claim to be a friend of the gay community as long as she continues to support immigration policies that bring Islamic extremists to our country and suppress women, gays, and anyone else who doesn’t share their views or values. She can’t have it both ways. She can’t claim to be supportive of these communities while trying to increase the number of people coming in who want to oppress these same communities. How does this kind of immigration make our lives better? How does this kind of immigration make our country better? Why does Hillary Clinton want to bring people in in vast numbers who reject our values? Why? Explain. Ask yourself, who is really the friend of women and the LGBT community. Donald Trump with actions or Hillary Clinton with her words. I will tell you who the better friend is. And some day I believe that will be proven out bigly.
Again, this is a literally fantastic act of speech that we have all just witnessed. Never mind that Trump so often fumbled the letters of LGBT throughout his remarks that it’s clear they are new to his mouth. Never mind that he is running on the ticket of the political party who has long sought to punish, then oppress, then merely ignore us, even in the wake of our own tragedy. Never mind that Omar Mateen is 100 percent home-grown American! Forget these things, because now, Trump wants to somehow ban an entire swath of humanity—one which includes many LGBTQ people!—from the United States, and alienate those already here, in order to protect us. And because Clinton rightly views such a blunt, bigoted policy as unconscionable, she cannot call herself our friend. It is Trump, not Clinton, who is the champion of the queers.
These are strange times in America. A serious contender for the White House is trying to bring LGBTQ people to a party that overwhelmingly does not want them. And he is doing this by trying to pit us against another marginalized group. Yes, a small minority of Muslims are homophobic, sometimes violently so. This is also true of Christians and many other groups besides. Any intelligent person can see that we should distinguish the criminals from the community.
Intelligent people can also see that Hillary Clinton’s record on LGBTQ support, while imperfect and sometimes tardy, is overwhelmingly positive. Her powerful and influential 2011 statement in Geneva—“Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights”—alone makes her a friend, not to mention her extremely detailed campaign platform on LGBTQ issues. Trump has issued no such document. Moreover, in the direct wake of Orlando, while Clinton was explicitly counting herself an ally to the LGBTQ community in our grief, Trump was reveling in “the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism.” I, for one, am certainly glad that the deaths of 49 people in a gay club was useful to our friend Trump.
A final note: On Monday night, a film called Out of Iraq will air on the LGBTQ-focused network Logo. It is a beautiful piece that I had hoped to treat at length today, before tragedy imposed other plans. You should watch it. The documentary follows the love story of two gay Iraqi men—both Muslim, one more religious than the other—who must fight for years during and after the Iraq war to reunite themselves in the United States. They fear homophobia in their homeland, absolutely. But their very existence—along with the many people who helped them, people who had “values” different from homophobia—shows the folly of the Trump approach.
No, anyone who would single out an entire group of humanity for suspicion and discrimination is not our friend. Queer people have already learned that lesson, bigly. And as the 2016 election—and political misuse of the Orlando murders—play out, we’re not going to forget it.
Correction, June 14, 2016: Due to a photo provider error, the photo caption in an earlier version of this post misspelled St. Anselm College.