Donald Trump sure has a thing for the fringiest of the lunatic fringe. Take for example his recent decision to tweet a picture of Hillary Clinton next to a pile of cash and a Star of David. Trump pulled the image from an account associated with a white supremacist supporter. At first, Trump seemed to realize his mistake and supported a staffer’s decision to delete the tweet. But then he doubled down and insisted it shouldn’t have been deleted because Disney used a similar star on promotional material for Frozen.
In fact, Trump has a special affinity for tweets from white supremacists. A study of his Twitter habits found that he regularly promotes tweets associated with #whitegenocide, and that his campaign has a similar affection for #whitegenocide accounts. For a man who prides himself on handling his own tweets, free of social media handlers, Trump clearly likes to keep revolting company.
As a result, Trump has been giving new energy to the white supremacist movement. And that’s really bad for the LGBT community.
About the only thing you can say in Trump’s favor is that he hasn’t engaged in the heavy-handed homophobia of other Republican candidates. He’s had his moments, of course, particularly on marriage equality, and he’s more than content to surround himself with the usual right-wing suspects.
But what Trump is doing is every bit as dangerous.
Trump is using dog whistles to rally an especially rabid pack. If you think white supremacy is solely about race, you are really, really wrong. There is a tight connection between the kind of people Trump likes to retweet and virulent antigay hatred. White supremacy is just shorthand for an all-encompassing bigotry that includes us. The history of LGBT violence in America is marked by the terrible toll that white supremacists have taken on the community
Now we have the presumptive GOP presidential nominee showing his support for a group that should be political pariahs. Trump is lending credibility and comfort to hate. And because he’s doing it at arm’s length, he can pretend he’s doing nothing of the sort.
Caught in the act, Trump and his minions like to play the “political correctness” card. Which is another dog whistle. Without having to say so, Trump is telling his followers that he will fight all those people who are driving the country to ruin. The followers get to fill in the blank, and you know that LGBTQ people are part of the laundry list running through his followers’ heads.
Trump is playing a dangerous game by inflaming the worst passions in the worst people. But that’s what got him to where he is today. Until the media and his own party start calling him on it, there’s no reason to think he will ever stop, no matter the consequences for the nation.