What the idea of civilization does (and doesn’t) mean to Trump – Washington Post

 In World
Want smart analysis of the most important news in your inbox every weekday along with other global reads, interesting ideas and opinions to know? Sign up for the Today’s WorldView newsletter.

It was no accident that President Trump chose Poland’s capital to offer his latest jeremiad about the perils facing the West. The country’s right-wing nationalist government gave the American leader a platform to plant his flag ahead of what may be a testy Group of 20 summit in Germany.

Poland’s obliging ruling party bused Trump supporters to Warsaw from rural areas of the country — a move familiar to most populist strongmen. “A large crowd carrying Polish and American flags gathered in the square for Trump’s remarks,” wrote my colleagues. “At least one person waved a campaign-style ‘Make America Great Again’ banner, and another waved a Confederate flag.”

Then, Trump pronounced upon what is now a familiar theme. He warned of the perils facing his country and Europe, particularly those of Islamist extremism and immigration. They are, in his thinking, existential challenges. “The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive,” Trump said.

This sense of almost apocalyptic fatalism has possessed Trump’s rhetoric for months, including during his inauguration speech, in which he invoked the specter of “American carnage.” His perennial message is one of fear of a dark and dangerous world.

President Trump said the “fundamental question” of today is whether the West has the will to survive and defend its values, during a speech in Warsaw on July 6. (Reuters)

An undisguised hostility to Islam and swarthy immigrants seems deeply ingrained among the nationalist ideologues in the White House, including advisers Stephen K. Bannon and Stephen Miller, who scripted the latest speech. In an essay published last year, Michael Anton, the director of communications for the National Security Council, suggested that increased immigration into a country is a sign of “a people, a civilization that wants to die.”

In Warsaw, Trump appealed to the blood-and-soil nationalism and Christian triumphalism that has defined his political brand and that of the far right in Europe. “We can have the largest economies and the most lethal weapons of anywhere on Earth. But if we do not have strong families and strong values, then we will be weak and we will not survive,” he said.

“I declare today for the world to hear that the West will never, ever, be broken,” Trump said in a closing fit of bravado. “Our values will prevail. Our people will thrive. And our civilization will triumph.”

But what values? Which people? And what civilization? Trump, after all, has made it clear that his vision of the West is different from the one invoked by the prevailing establishment.

“I will work with our allies to reinvigorate Western values and institutions,” Trump said on the campaign trail last April. “Instead of trying to spread ‘universal values’ that not everyone shares, we should understand that strengthening and promoting Western civilization and its accomplishments will do more to inspire positive reforms around the world than military interventions.”

Recent Posts
Get Breaking News Delivered to Your Inbox
Join over 2.3 million subscribers. Get daily breaking news directly to your inbox as they happen.
Your Information will never be shared with any third party.
Get Latest News in Facebook
Never miss another breaking news. Click on the "LIKE" button below now!