An analysis by Radu Motoca, DHI Director of Research
US President Donald Trump’s speech in Warsaw this July was a reasoned and impassioned defence of Western Civilisation and could have been given by any number of presidents from Kennedy to Reagan.
In spite of this, the speech received a predictably hysterical reaction from the left, which if anything, only serves to highlight the truth of the message that the President conveyed. Prejudiced with their myopic view that everything the West has achieved is intrinsically worthless and/or shameful, the leftist commentariat equated Trump’s speech to ‘racism’, ‘white nationalism’, and the most recent (and meaningless) insult: ‘alt-right.’ For those who insist on interpreting events through the lens of cultural marxism, Western Civilisation is literally nothing more than a charge of slavery, colonialism, inequality and (again meaningless) ‘white privilege.’
The postmodern globalist elites that dominate the West’s media and academia desire a different, non-Western (or indeed anti-Western) future, completely cleansed of Western history, peoples, faith and tradition — which they find repugnant to their pervading relativistic nihilism.
President Trump’s speech demonstrated that he is aware of this:
The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive. Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost?
It’s a question that Ronald Reagan confronted at the height of the Cold War. Reagan, emboldened by his democratic mandate and personal conviction in the intrinsic good of our principles, went on to lead a concerted, global promotion of Western values; spiritually and economically. His moral leadership helped bring about the defeat of the Soviet Union, one of the greatest evils in modern history.
Poland was a shrewd choice to outline a defence of the West in our own times. President Trump’s Reaganesque defence of the West was not lost on the audience of Polish citizens — and nor was the significance of delivering the speech at the site of the Warsaw Uprising lost on the American President:
[You] endured a brutal campaign to demolish freedom, your faith, your laws, your history, your identity — indeed the very essence of your culture and your humanity. Yet, through it all, you never lost that spirit. Your oppressors tried to break you, but Poland could not be broken.
President Trump evoked another historic speech given in the same location in 1979, when Pope John Paul II inspired the battle cry “We want God!” from the oppressed Polish citizenry, triggering the eventual demise of the atheistic Soviet stranglehold on the country:
Together, with Pope John Paul II, the Poles reasserted their identity as a nation devoted to God. And with that powerful declaration of who you are, you came to understand what to do and how to live. You stood in solidarity against oppression, against a lawless secret police, against a cruel and wicked system that impoverished your cities and your souls. And you won. Poland prevailed. Poland will always prevail.
President Trump pointed to the nation’s faith and staunch defence of its democratic freedoms, not just in the past but also in the face of new threats. In response to such new challenges, the President affirmed that the West should have more confidence in its achievements and intrinsic value:
We write symphonies. We pursue innovation. We celebrate our ancient heroes, embrace our timeless traditions and customs, and always seek to explore and discover brand-new frontiers.
We reward brilliance, we strive for excellence, and cherish inspiring works of art that honour God. We treasure the rule of law and protect the right to free speech and free expression. We empower women as pillars of our society and of our success. We put faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, at the centre of our lives. And we debate everything. We challenge everything. We seek to know everything, so that we can better know ourselves.
In championing these principles, President Trump is in a minority of leaders willing to do so. His advocacy went beyond support for free market capitalism, democracy and the rule of law to include cultural and religious triumphs, with several references to the positive role of Poland’s predominant Catholic faith. Most notable, was his defence of God-given human dignity:
And above all, we value the dignity of every human life, protect the rights of every person, and share the hope of every soul to live in freedom. That is who we are. Those are the priceless ties that bind us together as nations, as allies, and as a civilisation.
Referring to God ten times, President Trump was unapologetic in his praise for the Christian virtues and their core role in the foundation of Europe and the West:
We can have the largest economies and the most lethal weapons anywhere on Earth, but if we do not have strong families and strong values, then we will be weak and we will not survive. If anyone forgets the critical importance of these things, let them come to one country that never has. Let them come to Poland.
Trump continued to identify this culture war as one not confined to a battlefield but within “our minds, our wills and our souls.” For this is ultimately a clash of ideals rather than territories, and the main threat is not external military forces but something more internal: a conscious rejection of the innate value of Western principles.
This form of cultural suicide is seen mainly amongst the political left, a self-loathing for the values of which the West once held dear.
It was with this cultural suicide in mind that Trump then went on the counter-attack, rejecting the downplaying of Western culture and condemning Islamist terror as an “oppressive ideology” that glorifies “violence against the innocent.” President Trump called upon both Americans and Europeans to reject this creeping threat that sought to “undermine these values and to erase the bonds of culture, faith and tradition that make us who we are” concluding this section with “as the Polish experience reminds us, the defence of the West ultimately rests not only on means, but also on the will of its people to prevail.”
It is indeed a rarity these days to see a Western leader anything other than grovelingly apologetic.
This unwillingness to take a stand for Western values is a critical error of judgement. If Western populations no longer have the confidence to stand for anything, our future against a fearless enemy fuelled by hate and conviction is very bleak indeed. If we do not stand for our values, who will? In his most robust passage from the speech, President Trump answered this existential question:
“Just as Poland could not be broken, I declare today for the world to hear that the West will never, ever be broken. Our values will prevail. Our people will thrive. And our civilisation will triumph… So, together, let us all fight like the Poles — for family, for freedom, for country, and for God.”