POLITICS

Don't Be Fooled Into Thinking Donald Trump Is Pro-India

The facts don’t matter in this Trump campaign that’s founded almost entirely on xenophobia.

22/07/2016 12:27 PM IST | Updated 22/07/2016 1:22 PM IST
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Aaron Bernstein / Reuters
U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 21, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron P Bernstein

It's no longer morning in America. It's mourning in America.

Donald Trump's slogan is Make America Great Again. But the speech he delivered for over an hour at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland was all about an America at its bleakest.

"Violence in our streets and chaos in our communities". "Poverty and violence at home, war and destruction abroad".

It sounds like the wastelands of Mordor.

Mario Anzuoni / Reuters
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump stands with vice presidential nominee Mike Pence at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S., July 21 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

With Trump as the Lord of the Rings himself asking America to trust him with its awesome power.

One ring to rule them all. One Ring to find them.

One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

This was about as dark as a presidential candidate can get in selling himself to the electorate. No audacity of hope anymore. Just killer immigrants, killer corporations, killer trade agreements, killer ISIS. It was a buzz kill of a speech for a country that's always been spoon-fed its own recipe of hopeful red-white-and-blue exceptionalism.

The fact checkers will be all over Donald Trump's speech and they will be kept very busy.

This was about as dark as a presidential candidate can get in selling himself to the electorate. No audacity of hope anymore.

Trump blamed regime change in Iraq on Hillary Clinton as if George W Bush had never existed.

He blamed mega trade deals on the Clintons as if the Republican party is not filled with free-market conservatives. And that includes his own vice presidential candidate Mike Pence.

He blamed crime and murder on "illegal immigrants" as if those without papers are running around killing and maiming ordinary Americans instead of trying to stay low and out of sight (and picking lettuce in the field).

Mike Segar / Reuters
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump (L) celebrates with vice presidential nominee Mike Pence at the conclusion of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 21, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar

But the facts don't matter and have never mattered in this Trump campaign. It is a campaign that's founded almost entirely on xenophobia. It is the only thing that has mattered. It is the only thing that resonates. That is what the crowd was cheering for in Cleveland tonight. The man with the orange hair is not afraid to embrace xenophobia. He will not sugar coat it. He will shout it into the microphone.

If the convention speech was the opportunity for Trump to transform into a statesman, he chose not to do that. He was happy being a Shouts-man instead delivering red meat to the red states. And he is gambling that xenophobia, the fear of the other, will be his road to the White House rather than any optimistic vision of making America great.

This was an hour-plus exercise in defining that other, the one to be afraid of.

Here's a sampling. Be afraid, America. Be afraid of the "nearly 180,000 illegal immigrants with criminal records, ordered deported from our country" who are "roaming free to threaten peaceful citizens."

Here's a sampling. Be afraid, America. Be afraid of the "nearly 180,000 illegal immigrants with criminal records, ordered deported from our country" who are "roaming free to threaten peaceful citizens." Be afraid of the "border crosser" who killed 21-year-old Sarah Root sacrificed on the "order and on the altar of open borders". Be afraid of the "barbarians of ISIS".

Be afraid of China. Be afraid of visitors and immigrants from Muslim countries. Be afraid of mega trade deals. Be afraid of those who gun down law enforcement officials in Georgia, Missouri, Wisconsin, Kansas, Michigan, Tennessee and Louisiana.

The only traditional "other" that got a Trump embrace were LGBTQ Americans. And some 40-plus of them had to be killed in a nightclub by an "Islamic radical" who may or may not have been sexually conflicted himself, in order for them to be accepted into Trump's all-American pantheon.

Aaron Bernstein / Reuters
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump and vice presidential nominee Governor Mike Pence (R) stand amid balloons onstage at the end of the final session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 21, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

But it was a rare moment of inclusivity for a Republican presidential campaign to mention LGBTQ from the main stage. And only death via Orlando made gays American enough to be accepted into the Trump fold without booing. (It's another matter that even the Log Cabin Republicans, the party's only LGBT wing calls the 2016 platform the "most anti-LGBT platform in GOP history" and Trump's VP choice Mike Pence is fiercely anti-gay.)

One after another, Trump erected bogeymen of the other tonight. And the crowd roared its approval each time.

This might have been music to the ears of Trump supporters like Indian-American industrialist Shalabh Kumar. Kumar, the head of the Hindu Republican Coalition has given $1.1 million to the Trump campaign. He also brought 50 US Congresspersons to Narendra Modi's Madison Square Garden event. "He scores 10/10 in my book," Kumar told The Telegraph. He wants Trump to profile and monitor mosques in the US. He thinks Trump will be the "most pro-India President since the birth of the US" who will cut off funding for Pakistan.

Van Tine Dennis/Abaca USA
Delegates attend the final day of the Republican National Convention at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, OH, USA, on July 21, 2016. Photo by Dennis Van Tine/ABACAPRESS.COM

Kumar chooses to see a selective self-serving slice of Trump's xenophobia - anti-Pakistan, anti-Muslim. But the crowd that Trumpism eggs on is far less discriminating about its xenophobia. When he thundered "I am not going to let companies move to other countries, firing their employees along the way, without consequence" he was talking about outsourcing even though he never used the word.

And that crowd cheered lustily. Kumar says he is reassured by whatever clarifications Trump provided him about his views on outsourcing. He might want to check out Trump's Rebuilding America Now SuperPAC though. It has put out a video presenting Clinton as the champion of outsourcing and it ends with the claim "She's earned India's trust."

Trump has no interest in being a pro-India president even if Kumar fantasizes about that. While he claims he wants to make "America First again" that America is back, "bigger and better and stronger than ever before" what he was really selling was something quite different.

It's an America that would shut its doors to the world. That would turn its face away from it.

It's an America that would shut its doors to the world. That would turn its face away from it. "Americanism, not globalism will be our credo," Trump said, a statement quite at odds with his claim of the bigger, better, stronger America. But who's counting the contradictions?

And while Kumar and his checkbook might make the cut in this constricted vision of America, the Indian-American immigrant at the cornerstore might not be so lucky.

Obama, Trump told the crowd, divided the US by race and colour. And a sea of white faces cheered back without a trace of irony in the arena in Cleveland.

Believe me, Trump said over and over again, wagging his finger at the crowd. And they believed him.

It was quite chilling.

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