By Mitchell Blatt
Presumptive Republican nominee for president Donald Trump gets credit from his supporters–and even some of his detractors–for being “politically incorrect,” but now it looks like he is backing down from his controversial statements in the face of pressure.
In an interview on Fox News radio, Trump denied that he had made a proposal for a Muslim ban, calling it a “suggestion,” instead: “We have a serious problem, and it’s a temporary ban — it hasn’t been called for yet, nobody’s done it, this is just a suggestion until we find out what’s going on.”Walid Phares, a Christian who immigrated from Lebanon and a policy advisor for Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign as well as for Trump, also downplayed Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from enterring the country, saying, “Right now the ban is just a few sentences in a foreign policy announcement and a tweet, it’s not like he’s written books or published articles or delivered lectures on this.”
Both of them are lying. Trump has proposed banning Muslims and put out a press release “calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on,” and he featured his proposal in his first television ad, as well as in speeches and interviews.
In fact, Trump’s opposition to Muslims entering the country has helped win him votes in the Republican primary. Polls show a majority of Republicans support the proposal. 71 percent of Republicans, including 84 percent of Trump supporters, but just 48 percent of Kasich backers and 65 percent supporting Cruz, according to a Morning Consult poll in March.
Still, it’s not the first time he has cowed to political correctness and lied about his positions in an attempt to moderate himself. In March, he said in an interview on “CBS This Morning,” “I didn’t say shut it down. I said you have to be very careful. We have to be very, very strong and vigilant at the borders.”
Will Trump ever confirm if he supports banning Muslims from entering the country, as he has said he does? If not, will his supporters call him on it? Will those who support banning Muslims continue to stand behind him when he tries to make it appear like he is wavering on the issue?
So far his supporters have not cared much about policy, but at the same time they have contradictorily claimed that his policies of building a wall and clamping down on immigration will help protect America. The fact that he won the overwhelming support of those who supported banning Muslims shows that some of his policy proposals did matter to voters, as the voters who supported that plan voted for the candidate who stated it. Can those voters trust him to ban Muslims and do other things he has promised to do now?
In all likelihood, most of his dedicated will be able to excuse him, as they have for other things so far. He has created a cult-of-personality immune from logic. Furthermore, now that the race has eliminated his Republican rivals, there are no candidates to challenge him from the right, and he will be able to stay to the right of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton even if he rhetorically wavers.
But voters who care about honesty and about immigration policy should certainly be concerned.
(Mitchell Blatt moved to China in 2012, and since then he has traveled and written about politics and culture throughout Asia. A writer and journalist, based in China, he is the lead author of Panda Guides Hong Kong guidebook and a contributor to outlets including The Federalist, China.org.cn, The Daily Caller, and Vagabond Journey.)- Eurasia Review
By Mitchell Blatt