Another day, another Trumpism. On Monday, Donald Trump said London's first Muslim mayor would be an "exception" to his Muslim immigration ban. It's a gracious reversal from the repsumptive Republican presidential nominee's previous wish to keep Muslims from entering the country. The key word here is "reversal" — his comments are yet another example of Trump's classic flip-flop on positions, which he cannot seem to go a week without changing.
When asked how a ban on Muslims would affect Sadiq Khan, London's newly elected mayor, Trump told the New York Times, "There will always be exceptions." Then, with his usual eloquence, he said of Khan's election:
I was happy to see that. I think it’s a very good thing, and I hope he does a very good job because frankly that would be very, very good. Because I think if he does a great job, it will really — you lead by example, always lead by example. If he does a good job and frankly if he does a great job, that would be a terrific thing.
We all know by now that Trump knows words. He has the best words. Yet, these words for Khan sing a different tune than his remarks just after the terrorist attacks in Paris last November that resulted in 130 people killed. In the aftermath, Trump called for barring Muslims from entering the United States in a press release that said: "Donald J. Trump is 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."
Except for Khan! Khan is one of the good ones! At least, that's the deeply patronizing message Trump is conveying with his "exception" for the London mayor.
Trump's original stance was full of bigotry, but Trump's reversal from it shows, like his numerous other instances of flip-flopping, how little resolve he has. Not that he should dig in his heels on that original, Islamophobic idea (let me be clear: he should've never suggested something so offensive and ludicrous in the first place), but it highlights how Trump doesn't stick by his proclamations as soon as they stop being convenient for his success. Instead, he makes excuses and amendments whenever he feels it's appropriate (all the time). Trump's reversal on minimum wage last week illustrates this, as well.
The accusation of "flip-flopping" is tossed around a lot in the game of politics, and when Trump does it, it may be even more disingenuous than when other politicians do. For Trump, it is certainly not a sign of open-mindedness. It's a sign of pandering, dishonesty, and of weak will.
Moreover, his history of flip-flopping has weakened what power that comments like his "exception" may have had. Such a statement would have otherwise seemed like an improvement of sorts — a figure known for decidedly anti-Muslim views revising his stance to be more (slightly more) accepting. But Trump's record of abandoning his beliefs, whether they be bigoted or not, makes it all but impossible to consider any changes in his views or policies as genuine. I believe that pretty much everything — the good and the bad — is pandering when it comes from Trump's mouth. In fact, maybe even those Islamophobic voters riding the Trump train should beware, because he could change his stance again at the drop of a hat.