In a major policy speech on Monday, Donald Trump attempted to paint himself as—get this—an enemy of "bigotry" and "oppression." Too bad for him that nearly everything he's said and done since he started running for president contradicts that stance.
In the speech, which was broadly focused on foreign policy, Trump tried particularly hard to cast himself as a staunch defender of LGBTQ rights. He mentioned the millions of dollars in donations that the Clinton Foundation has received from notoriously homophobic Saudia Arabia (the exact amount of money given is unknown, and most of the funds appear to have gone towards building the Clinton presidential library in the early 2000s) and tried to use it as a wedge to cast doubt on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's commitment to the LGBTQ community.
While my opponent accepted millions of dollars in Foundation donations from countries where being gay is an offense punishable by prison or death, my Administration will speak out against the oppression of women, gays and people of different faith.
He then pivoted to his newly announced immigration policy, which he said will include an exam testing attitudes on the Constitution, bigotry, and, yes, gay rights.
"In the Cold War, we had an ideological screening test. The time is overdue to develop a new screening test for the threats we face today," he announced. "The hateful ideology of radical Islam – its oppression of women, gays, children, and nonbelievers – [cannot] be allowed to reside or spread within our own countries."
Aside from the fact that his party enshrined the most basic and callous forums of homophobia into its party platform, Trump's attempt to introduce a supposedly LGBTQ-friendly element into his immigration policy is just another way to recast his proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the country as not so extremist after all. Previously, he had backpedaled somewhat on that blanket ban by saying he would only ban anyone immigrating to the U.S. from "areas of the world where there is a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe, or our allies."
That is a much more "solidly constitutional" proposal than a blanket ban on Muslim immigration, noted Vox's Dara Lind. And now, Trump is adding a ideological test to the policy, giving the far-right wing policy some liberal cover. He's not hateful! He just wants to protect "the gays."
But if you scrutinize it closely enough, the new policy evaporates. In coupling the country-by-country ban on immigration with an ideological test that would require pro-LGBTQ views, the policy all but forgets that an unknown number of LGBTQ people who have fled from places like Iraq and Syria because of atrocities committed against them.
The Obama administration has publicly stated that LGBTQ Syrians and Iraqis have are already receiving priority status when filing to stay come to the U.S. as refugees. But Trump is openly hostile to the U.S. admitting any Syrian and Iraqi refugees in general.
"We cannot let them into this country, period," Trump told CNN in an earlier interview. "Our country has tremendous problems. We can't have another problem."
Admitting LGBTQ people from nations where they face violence is, of course, one of the main reasons that there are refugee policies in the first place. If you start to say these vulnerable populations from countries that suffer from religious, political and ideological violence can't be admitted, you might be denying thousands of people safe passage in a time of humanitarian need.
Trump concluded his speech thusly:
I will fight to ensure that every American is treated equally, protected equally, and honored equally. We will reject bigotry and oppression in all its forms, and seek a new future built on our common culture and values as one American people.
This is the man who launched his presidential campaign by calling Mexicans rapists, and who today promised to enforce his new immigration policy in "extreme" and "vicious" ways in the same breath that he promised protection.
There's a lot of things that can be said for Trump's new immigration policy, and of Trump more generally. But don't be fooled—tolerant isn't one of them.
Daniel Rivero is a producer/reporter for Fusion who focuses on police and justice issues. He also skateboards, does a bunch of arts related things on his off time, and likes Cuban coffee.