In his speech today at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire, Donald Trump advocated banning Muslims from the Middle East and South Asia from emigrating to the United States. That’s a step down from his plan last December to block all Muslims from entering the United States, but it would still put the United States on a war footing with Muslims and also put the American state in the business of judging churches. In addition, Trump sounded an ominous note by insinuating (without evidence) that American Muslims were aware of the terrorists in their midst, but were not reporting them to authorities.
In framing the threat of radical Islam, however, Trump took a tack that may have surprised his audience and not have pleased some Republicans. Trump portrayed himself as a defender of LGBT and women’s rights against radical Islam. He said, “ Ournation stands together in solidarity with the members of Orlando’s LGBT Community. A radical Islamic terrorist targeted the nightclub not only because he wanted to kill Americans, but in order to execute gay and lesbian citizens because of their sexual orientation… It is an assault on the ability of free people to live their lives, love who they want and express their identity…Radical Islam is anti-woman, anti-gay and anti-American.”
Trump also got in a dig at Hillary Clinton by maintaining that he was in fact a greater supporter of gay and women’s rights than she was: “Ask yourself, who is really the friend of women and the LGBT community, Donald Trump with his actions, or Hillary Clinton with her words? Clinton wants to allow Radical Islamic terrorists to pour into our country—they enslave women, and murder gays. I don’t want them in our country.”
Trump’s stand on blocking immigration from Muslims because they oppose women’s and gay rights puts him in line with some European rightwing populists like Holland’s Geert Wilders and his Freedom Party. That probably won’t win him a lot of support from feminists and members of the LGBT community who are likely to oppose his blanket stand against Muslims and have not been thrilled by his attitude toward women. But his stance for gay rights won’t win him a lot of friends in his own party. As news of the massacre in Orlando broke, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, whose opinions probably reflected other religious right Republicans, tweeted and wrote on Facebook a Bible verse: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”
John B. Judis is Editor-At-Large at Talking Points Memo. He was a senior editor of The New Republic and senior writer for The National Journal. He is the author most recently of The Populist Explosion: How the Great Recession Transformed American and European Politics (Columbia Global Reports, 2016). He has written six other books, including Genesis: Truman, American Jews, and the Origin of the Arab-Israeli Conflict (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2014), The Folly of Empire: What George W. Bush Could Learn from Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson (Scribner, 2004), The Emerging Democratic Majority with Ruy Teixeira (Scribner, 2002), and The Paradox of American Democracy: Elites, Special Interests, and Betrayal of Public Trust (Pantheon, 2000). He has written for numerous publications, including The New York Times Magazine, Mother Jones, and The Washington Post. Born in Chicago, he received his B.A. and M.A. degrees in Philosophy from the University of California, Berkeley. He lives in Silver Spring, MD.