“But Grandma, what big teeth you have!” is how German web site queer.de reacted on Facebook to Donald Trump’s strategically-emollient appearance on CBS’s 60 Minutes where he told viewers “don’t be afraid”, and it sums up just how I feel about the whole charade. There’s a good summary of what he had to say at Sky News.
You can’t help but admire Trump’s tactics. Saying the whole gay marriage debate is over and settled is – bluntly – just horse excrement. He can afford to say that now, as others are rushing to get rid of it for him; the National Organisation for Marriage and their friends will sooner or later get some kind of case to the Supreme Court, where his pro-life super conservative new appointee will be waiting.
Ah, yes, abortion rights, the perfect distraction; an issue rightly so important for so many that campaigning around this one issue will effectively divert effort from – and submerge coverage of – many of the hurtful daily indignities inflicted on the trans community with “bathroom laws” and so on, while new “religious freedom” laws will pop up like mushrooms, excluding the LGBTQI community from services and venues, and employment protection may be weakened. Pink triangle, anyone? Great news that Trump wants to embrace some of the central planks of Obamacare, and there’s no reason necessarily to oppose changes in how that’s delivered; but watch how in reformed contracts, support for birth control ebbs away, and how money for – and any entitlement to – gender confirmation surgery, medical care for the trans community, prEP and HIV treatment and prevention strategy gets cut or stripped out.
What’s also worth noting is that Trump, both on CBS and in his interview with The Washington Post, has refused to apologise for anything he said during the campaign, justifying it all with a simple “I won”. Which tells you a lot about the man, what he’s prepared to do to get his way, and about his moral compass.
Living in and around Berlin, I can see historical reminders every day of how easily an open, dynamic multi-faceted society under pressure can slip terrifyingly sideways when chasing broadly unfocused promises of a better tomorrow and renewed national pride, when pushed in the right direction with some strategic name-calling. Be very afraid…