New York Times (Opinion)
By Emma Roller
June 14, 2016
Donald J. Trump wants you to be afraid. Very, very afraid.
That much was abundantly clear in a speech he gave on Monday, reading with faux gravitas from a teleprompter about the shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando that killed 49 people early Sunday morning.
This is a tried-and-true political strategy.
“Whenever there’s a tragedy, everything goes up, my numbers go way up,” Mr. Trump bragged last December, after the shootings in San Bernardino, Calif.
And so Mr. Trump has continued to ratchet up the fear factor with each subsequent attack abroad or at home, always using it as proof of his own rightness. While it’s a tactic that helped him win the Republican nomination, that doesn’t mean it will work going forward.
Alan Abramowitz, a political scientist at Emory University, said that Mr. Trump’s strongman rhetoric and fear-stoking portrayals of Muslims may have worked in the Republican primary, but aren’t likely to win that many voters over to his side in November.
“My sense is that Trump is not helping himself with this,” he said. “He’s coming across as being almost unhinged in terms of talking about things like banning Muslims from entering the country. We know that’s not popular with most voters.”
As in almost any policy area, comparing Hillary Clinton’s platform with Donald Trump’s is like comparing a dissertation on naval strategy to a game of Battleship.
In her speech Monday, Mrs. Clinton didn’t mention Mr. Trump by name, but did criticize “inflammatory, anti-Muslim rhetoric” and threatening to bar Muslims from entering the country.
In his address Monday, Mr. Trump accused Mrs. Clinton — falsely — of wanting to increase the admission of Muslim immigrants and Syrian refugees “without a screening plan.”
“This could be a better, bigger more horrible version than the legendary Trojan horse ever was,” he said.
In fact, the United States government is far behind on its goal to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees into our country. Meanwhile, Canada has welcomed more than 27,000 Syrian refugees since November. None of those refugees have turned out to be terrorist sleeper agents yet.
The subtext of Mr. Trump’s speech was that this horrific act of violence against gay people legitimizes discrimination against Muslims. But it is unfair to generalize that Muslims are anti-gay. A 2015 Pew study found that 45 percent of Muslim Americans say homosexuality should be accepted in society, compared to 36 percent of Mormons and evangelical Christians.
In the wake of the Orlando attacks, I spoke with some current and former members of Congress who are gay. They said we should examine the role of Islamic extremism as one element of the tragedy in Orlando, but that Donald Trump’s proposals are beyond the pale.
“Banning all Muslims is ridiculous. It would be damaging to the country. It would make things worse,” Barney Frank, the former Massachusetts congressman, told me. “It would do no good whatsoever.”
Of Mr. Trump’s call to bar Syrian refugees from entering the country, Representative Mark Pocan, Democrat of Wisconsin, said, “That would be like saying we should all drink more orange juice and this wouldn’t have happened. It’s completely unrelated.”
“L.G.B.T. people, knowing the sting of discrimination, know the fallacy and the error of giving license to discriminate against other people,” Representative Mark Takano, Democrat of California, told me. “It’s important to see that it’s not about one religion who did this to L.G.B.T. people in Orlando. It’s about a hatred toward L.G.B.T. people, and that hatred can come from a variety of places.”
In Mr. Trump’s mind, any tragedy is the perfect time to say, “I told you so.” After hearing the news of the worst mass shooting in modern United States history, Mr. Trump tweeted, “appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism.” After the San Bernardino shooting, he trumpeted his own poll numbers against Mrs. Clinton’s before admitting that the shooting “looks very bad.” After the attacks in Paris in November, he felt compelled to congratulate himself not once but twice before expressing condolences for the victims. After the attacks in Brussels in March, he tweeted, “I have proven to be far more correct about terrorism than anybody — and it’s not even close. Hopefully AZ and UT will be voting for me today!”
Mr. Trump’s speech on Monday attempted both to address the Orlando shooting and to serve as an opening volley in his general election matchup against Mrs. Clinton. Depending on whether you like Mr. Trump or not, the speech was either an astounding success or a terrifying string of words that could have been cut-and-pasted together from a magazine.
“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 who suppress women, gays and anyone who doesn’t share their views,” Mr. Trump said in his speech.
But when considering who is bringing hate into this country, Mr. Trump might benefit from a little introspection, and a look at the people surrounding him. On Monday, Roger Stone, one of Mr. Trump’s trusted advisers, suggested that Huma Abedin, a top Hillary Clinton aide, could be a “Saudi spy” or a “terrorist agent.” To employ one of Mr. Trump’s own favorite rhetorical devices, apophasis, I won’t say that Roger Stone is an opportunistic hatemonger whom no one should take seriously. I’m much too politically correct to do that.
Watching Mr. Trump speak, I got the sense that he doesn’t understand the consequences his words can have — that his fear stoking has led his supporters to harass a 56-year-old Muslim woman, or to beat a homeless man with a metal pipe and urinate on him, or to bully students for being children of immigrants.
But the even scarier thought is that he knows exactly what he’s doing.
For more information, go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com