In a recent speech in Warsaw, President Trump gave an unapologetic defense of Western Civilization. Judging by the hysterical reaction by many left-wing commentators, one would have thought Trump’s speech was a covert call to his supporters to put on their swastika armbands and secretly convene in various undisclosed locations for Nuremberg-style rallies to agitate for an exclusively Caucasian nation based on racial purity.
Here are some of the extreme concepts implicit in Trump’s Warsaw speech: a country that does not have definable borders is not a sovereign nation-state; mass migration can disrupt, and if unchecked, can eradicate a nation’s identity and traditions because cultural assimilation is not always possible.
Yet to many liberal commentators, Trump’s defense of Western traditions was nothing more than a defense of white racism. Here is Peter Beinart writing in The Atlantic, “In his speech in Poland on Thursday, Donald Trump referred 10 times to ‘the West’ and five times to ‘our civilization.’ His white nationalist supporters will understand exactly what he means. It’s important that other Americans do, too.”
The following passage from the speech provoked the most criticism,
“The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive,” he said. “Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost? Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?”
Jeet Heer writing in the New Republic characterized the speech as an International Brotherhood of White Grievance. For Heer, Trump’s defense of the West was intended, “to conjure blood-and-soil nationalism.” Slate commentator Jamie Bouie tweeted, “Imagine being a political writer in this moment and being utterly unable to identify clear white nationalist dog whistles.”
All this criticism is monumental silliness.
The triumph of the West is manifest precisely because it developed institutions, processes and inventions that spawned the great industrial revolution, transformed the world and ushered in the Age of Modernity
Liberals like Beinart confuse racism with historical fact. Many non-Western civilizations, despite their unique and distinct cultures, have adopted some of the institutions of Western civilization. Even though the British abandoned India and its other colonies long ago, many of these former territories willingly adopted and embraced the institutions of representative self-government — a uniquely Western tradition.
How does Beinart and other progressives square these facts with his underlying thesis that Trump’s highlighting of these unexampled achievements unique to Western Civilization is tantamount to racism? Was the idea of individual liberty embodied in the Magna Carta birthed by Mayan Civilization? Was the Steam engine invented in rural Africa? Does acknowledging these historical accomplishments of Western civilization constitute racism? Beinart and his fellow travelers misconstrue Trump’s praise of the West with a condemnation of the rest of the world and other cultures.
The irony of the contention that Trump’s speech was a call to white racism is entirely lost on Beinart because as Dennis Praeger recently noted, it is the left that categorizes citizens in the polity on exclusively racial grounds. If one looks at many of the sacrosanct tenets of modern-day liberalism, each is based entirely on racial or gender-specific identities. It is liberalism, with its encouragement of grievance-mongering amongst distinct groups based on their racial and ethnic characteristics that has evolved into a tribal philosophy. Affirmative action, regardless of the socio-economic status of its beneficiaries is and always has been predicated exclusively on skin pigmentation.
When one hears cable TV commentators speak of the “coalition of the ascendant” as an inexorable political force, is there doubt in anyone’s mind that this concept excludes white people? Again, it is a political concept embraced by liberals that is based exclusively on tribal or racial grounds.
Despite all the caterwauling by progressives over Trump’s speech, the sad truth is that it is liberalism, a political philosophy to which Beinart subscribes, that has become obsessed with race and us-against-them tribal affinities as the organizing principle of politics.