Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Trump's Cruel and Cynical Transgender Ban

Donald Trump made many promises during the 2016 presidential campaign.  So far, other than putting anti-gay Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court, Trump has delivered on few of his promises.  At least the publicly made ones.  Time will tell what promises he may have made to Vladimir Putin, but today we witnessed Trump delivering on one of his promises to Christofascist leaders in June, 2016.  Today, Trump issued a fiat ban on transgender individuals serving in the U.S. military - much to the near orgasmic joy of hate group leaders such as Tony Perkins.  Pleasing the evangelical Christians who bear responsibility for Trump's presidency is far more important than delivering jobs to those in Youngstown, Ohio, or western Pennsylvania who he played for fools.   So too is causing distractions to divert media attention from the increasingly serious Russiagate scandal.  A piece in The New Yorker looks at Trump's cruel and cynical action against one of the most beleaguered segments of society.  Here are excerpts:
Nearly a half century ago, young Donald Trump—a Wharton graduate, and an avid player of squash, football, and tennis—scored a 1-Y medical deferment. Hundreds of thousands of young men were being deployed to Vietnam. Trump had some bone spurs. He then limped happily into his father’s real-estate business without delay.
When Trump was interviewed by the Times about his deferment during the 2016 campaign, he admitted that the foot condition was “temporary” and “minor”—usually orthotics or stretching eased the pain—and yet, “I had a doctor that gave me a letter—a very strong letter on the heels.” He promised the paper that he would look for the letter. Amazingly, it never turned up.
On Wednesday morning, the Commander-in-Chief declared by tweet-fiat that, “after consultation with my Generals and military experts,” he had decided to reverse an Obama Administration decision and bar transgender individuals from serving in the military “in any capacity.” Trump tweeted further, “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming . . . victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
Let’s begin with the retrograde cruelty. There are thousands of transgender people already serving among the 1.3 million active-duty members of the military. These are people who have volunteered their service and have potentially put their lives on the line, and yet their President, who managed to come up with a flimsy doctor’s note back in the day, denies them their dignity, their equality. He will not “accept or allow” them in the military. Imagine the scale of this insult.
However, today’s outrage—they seem to come at least once daily—is not merely one that reflects on Trump’s low character. It also reveals yet another layer of his political cynicism, and his willingness to use any tactical means available to try to emerge whole from his current predicament.
The President is in the midst of a colossal scandal, and the country, to an increasing measure, knows it. It’s not merely a matter of poor popularity polls. A sizable portion of the country wants to be rid of him and suspects he is unworthy of his office. Six months into his Presidency, according to a USA Today/Media Ethics poll, the country is split on whether or not he should be impeached . . . . The scandal is broad-based, but it surely includes (but is not limited to) contacts with Russian officials during the campaign and potential collusion . . . . the accumulating evidence of a history of sleazy business practices and partners; and the level of sheer incompetence in the West Wing.
It is implausible that Trump paid much attention to his highest-ranking generals, or to experts, generally; Secretary of Defense James Mattis has supported transgender individuals joining the military. And the hardly radical Rand Corporation has published an in-depth study refuting the idea that transgender soldiers are somehow expensive, or that they undermine the morale and cohesion of the military over all. Trump’s decision to bar transgender people from the military is pure politics, cheap and cruel politics, a naked attempt to divert attention from his woes, to hold on to support from his base . . . . In other words, it is a decision straight out of the Steve Bannon playbook. Cue the organs of the alt-right press.
When you begin to consider the meanness of what Trump has done, it is worth remembering him saying that he was “smarter” than the generals on military matters, and that he mocked John McCain’s service in Vietnam because “I like people who weren’t captured.” When you begin to think about the scale of this offense, it is worth remembering Khizr Khan, the Gold Star father who lost a son in Iraq, addressing Trump directly from the lectern of the Democratic National Convention: “You have sacrificed nothing and no one.”
Not my president.

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