President Trump today declared that nationalism must be the priority over global cooperation — a stunningly backward, 19th-century explanation of the Trump administration’s scattershot, spastic, and selfish foreign policy that puts America first, and everyone else be damned. A viewpoint that he preached to a United Nations General Assembly that comes together to discuss world problems. He encouraged nations of the world to put their self-interests above all else, and at the risk of diminishing global cooperation on critical issues such as climate change, poverty, hunger, migration, and human and LGBTQ rights.
Bizarrely, and against everything the administration stands for, Trump proclaimed that the United States, under his administration, has the back of the LGBTQ community worldwide. The president said the U.S. is working with other nations to stop criminalizing homosexuality. “We stand in solidarity with LGBTQ people who live in countries that punish, jail or execute individuals based upon sexual orientation," Trump said. Um, he said what? And how can that be if we are protecting our own? And how can that be when he’s not protecting us?
How can Trump be believed for the anti-LGBTQ stances he has taken here at home? How does he justify solidarity when he's tearing it apart at home? When the administration is seeking to do away with equal employment and hiring rules designed to protect the LGBTQ community? And, did he forget his hateful rollback of transgender protections? Does he know, that's what the "T" stands for? And which he and his vice president firmly stand against?
And, even more startling, how can he say that the U.S. stands in solidarity with LGBTQ people when he's preaching for countries to mind their own business, and prompting them to embrace their own forms of nationalism? If autocratic undemocratic countries take his cue, and cringe, cower, and segregate themselves from the world, won’t their people lack exposure to what’s right? Won’t countries become more committed to enforcing laws that go against protecting their own people? Won’t isolationism severely deter globalism when we are now a more connected world than ever?
“The future does not belong to globalists. The future belongs to patriots,” Trump said. “The future belongs to sovereign and independent nations, who protect their citizens, respect their neighbors and honor the differences that make each country special and unique."
“The free world must embrace its national foundations. It must not attempt to erase them or replace them,” Trump said as he began his address. “Looking around, and all over this large, magnificent planet, the truth is plain to see: if you want freedom, take pride in your country. If you want democracy, hold on to your sovereignty. And if you want peace, love your nation.”
So does he mean that the over 70 countries that criminalize gay relationships can continue to do so under the guise of protecting their independence? That the 13 countries in the world where being gay can be legally punishable by the death makes them special and unique? And the Philippines's recent Supreme Court ruling outlawing same-sex marriage is a move that protects its citizens?
We know that Trump is sorely confused, and we should be too. If the admiration is apparently working with other countries to stop the criminalization of homosexuality, does that mean that they are going against our own nationalistic policy? How does the U.S. intervene when Trump preaches not interceding? How do government officials work with other countries when Trump mandates only working for ourselves? And if they are really going against their ethos, about America first, how does his hypocritical administration seriously and solemnly look countries that criminalize gays in the eye? How do they tell them to change their LGBTQ stances when this administration is changing them adversely in the U.S.? How do they say decriminalize when Trump obliquely criminalizes? How do other countries open up, when we tell them to close up?
Trump, and a nationalistic world cannot have it both ways. America and other countries that prompt and accept the LGBTQ community need to be beacons for other countries. Examples of how to do it right. Open and sharing. Constantly communicating. Countries that support our community must intervene in countries that do not. America needs to be an example to other countries that freedom of sexual orientation and gender rights and marriage rights makes a nation more prosperous and free. That inhibiting this freedom is both dangerous and inhuman.
Hiding behind a shield of nationalism is contrary to “standing in solidarity.” Nations of the world must work together to solve all of our problems. The reality is that they do, or at least they are trying. That’s what the United Nations is all about. Trump’s speech to them was a slap in the face to the global community — it’s a community, not a bunch of isolated lands. And, Trump’s latest lip service to our community is not only conflicting, but convoluted, and condemnable.
John Casey is a PR professional and an Adjunct Professor at Wagner College in New York City, and a frequent columnist for The Advocate. Follow John on Twitter @johntcaseyjr.