The meeting was not on President Trump’s daily schedule.
Nonetheless, there he was at the White House this afternoon — meeting with an apparently hastily assembled group of 27 people from 17 different countries — all of whom had been victims of religious persecution — in an attempt to “reaffirm his Administration’s commitment to religious liberty.”
In actuality, the last-minute assemblage was a fairly transparent ploy to use the occasion to renew his attacks on the four progressive Democratic congresswomen who have been the subject of his racist “go back to where you came from” Twitter blitz.
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Surrounded by people from Yemen, China, Cuba, Nigeria, Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Iran & Germany who had been targeted for their belief systems, Trump attempted to paint himself as the crusading savior of religious freedom, trying to contrast himself with the false picture he’s peddling of Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) as anti-Semitic supporters of terrorism.
“In America we’ve always understood that our rights come from God, not from government,” Trump declared. “I don’t think any president has taken it as seriously as me,” he continued, referring to his claim of being the leading defender of religous freedoms.
As a method of excusing his racist tweets by now declaring that it was all done in the name of protecting religious liberty — a concept he likely defines as the ability to legally discriminate against others who don’t share one’s own belief systems such as the immorality of baking cakes for same-sex couples — Trump’s stunt summit seems like an act of desperation after his aides broke the fact to the president that his explosion of racist sentiment had actually backfired on him.
The meeting, which included several religious minorities persecuted in China — a Uighur Muslim, a Falun Gong practitioner, a Tibetan Buddhist, and a Christian — may also be part of an effort to put international pressure on China at a point when the trade talks between that nation and the United States are at an impasse.
How ironic that Trump would try to pass himself off as a defender of persecuted religious minorities as he does everything in his administration’s powers to disenfranchise and disempower America’s own minority populations.
This is, after all, the man who as one of his first acts upon taking office tried to institute a ban on Muslims entering the country after repeatedly calling for just such a ban while on the campaign trail.
If there were an Oscar for acting hypocritically, President Trump would be a shoo-in.
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Original reporting by Alexandra Alper at Reuters.