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

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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.”

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