“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. If anyone forgets the critical importance of these things, let them come to one country that never has.”
I will confess, I was never a passenger on the “Trump Train.” I did vote for him – through gritted teeth – because I could not stomach the thought of Hillary Clinton occupying the Oval Office, and I did not want to throw my vote away on a quixotic protest. But I have never been a partisan, and he has done many things, both before and after the election, that I have not agreed with.
But if this speech – delivered in Warsaw, Poland, on the 6th of July – is more than words, if it is truly indicative of his plans and intentions, if he is really going to place the defense of Western civilization, and dare I say it, Western Christendom, at the heart of his foreign policy, then I am behind him 110%, at least in that area.
We in the West – acutely in the United States, but the plague has spread widely in Western Europe as well – have fallen into a dangerous malady, in which we are willing to denigrate, deny, and even desecrate our own history, culture, and heritage – often while embracing others that are, at the very least, problematic, and often downright destructive of our own.
It is, I suspect, born (at least in part) of a generous impulse, the impulse of compassion. But compassion, like charity, begins at home; and if one is so “compassionate” to others that one acts to the detriment of one’s own people, that is not compassion, but insanity.
The enemies are at the gates, and in many cases, they are already inside them; in some cases, they are our own people. I am reminded of the late Judge Robert Bork, the Reagan nominee to the Supreme Court who spoke of the “vertical invasion of the barbarians”: that the greatest threat we face is from those who would undermine us and weaken our resolve from within. Betrayal – in this case, betrayal of the Classical and Christian values for which the West has always stood, and grounded in which we have always stood – is ever the greatest enemy.
But we face a multitude of enemies, both from within and from without. From without, there is perhaps above all the rise of militant Islam: militant in the sense not only of the physical violence of terrorism and (in the case of ISIS) military expansion, but in its implacable determination to overthrow Western culture and civilization worldwide, and replace it with the Dar al-Islam, in which the domination of Islamic ideology is total and inescapable.
Closely allied to that is the fact that we are in an age of migration, and one that our own actions have brought about. In the 20th century, the so-called “Agricultural Revolution,” advances in medicine, and lavish foreign aid allowed the populations of Asia and especially Africa to expand dramatically – far beyond, in many cases, what their lands could support, even with the advances we gave them. That these seething masses are now on the move is perhaps an inevitability, but that hardly means that we should simply roll over and allow ourselves to be overrun.
Then there is China, which is moving rapidly from being a regional power to being a true world power, a superpower. While its interests sometimes coincide with ours, they are often in opposition. And there are regional powers such as North Korea and Iran, which – although far weaker than the US, and the West, have certain capabilities (particularly nuclear ones) that make them a real threat. Russia remains, as it has ever been to the West, a bit of an enigma. Our responses to Russia’s legitimate national interests, under President Vladimir Putin, may well determine whether Russia will evolve into a valuable friend, or a bitter enemy, of the West.
These external threats would be enough, and more than enough, to worry about, if they were all that we faced. But we are simultaneously being threatened from within by forces that divide us, undercut our historic strengths, undermine our sense of unity and cohesion as a people, and weaken our ability to deal with threats from abroad.
Militant atheism, widespread apathy (see the rise of the “nones”), and, it must be admitted, a certain failure of much of the Christian Church to first clearly articulate, and then live up to, its own traditional values has led to a dramatic decline in the ability of the Christian faith to serve as a core pillar and rallying point for Western civilization, as it has been for the last thousand years or more.
In the absence of that strong and mostly unified voice – Christians are a distressingly contentious lot, but even though Catholics, Protestants, and various sub-groups of the latter have often fought among themselves, they have generally been remarkably unified in the expression of both core principles of the Faith (the Trinity, the Incarnation) and the moral standards that proceed from it – all manner of alternatives have stepped into the gap.
The hyper-sexualization of society proceeds apace; many things which have historically been viewed as perversions are being increasingly portrayed as “normal” and even admirable; and we are seeing the bizarre spectacle of people insisting on being treated as the gender (or lack thereof) with which they “identify,” rather than their biological reality. The idea that all of this is immaterial or irrelevant to the overall weakening and even breakdown of a once-strong Western culture and society is, I am afraid, either hopelessly naive, or willfully obtuse.
The ISIS-like suppression of history began with the attacks against the Confederate battle flag, following its association with a deranged murderer, but has now expanded not only to the destruction and removal of monuments to Confederate soldiers and heroes, and the renaming of schools, streets, and parks, but to attacks against other flags (such as the Gadsden flag), historical figures (Andrew Jackson, Sam Houston, even Washington and Jefferson), and their iconography.
We have made a fetish of “diversity” and “multiculturalism,” asserting as a self-evident truth something which is, in fact, a highly questionable and problematic assertion – that “diversity makes us strong.” I suspect I shall have to devote a full blog post to this question in the future, but for now, suffice it to say that, as a student of ecology, I can agree with that only so long as it is native diversity. The introduction of invasive aliens into an ecosystem is nearly always damaging and destructive – and can be devastating – to that ecosystem.
Worsening all of the above is the reign of political correctness, the idea that only those who buy into this whole narrative of anti-Western, anti-traditional, anti-Christian rhetoric and action are entitled to speak, and that dissenting viewpoints are to be shouted down, and beaten down, if necessary; legislated or adjudicated into illegality; or silenced with rhetorical devices such as accusations of racism, sexism, and xenophobia.
One would think that the election of President Trump would have given the political left-wing some pause, since it occurred in the face of – and in large measure, in reaction to – precisely the sorts of efforts described above. But instead, it has caused the hard left to double down, with cries of “resistance”… and now, even jihad. The irony in seeing supposedly “liberal” women – the political and social heirs of those who fought for the right of women to wear jeans and miniskirts, and express themselves freely in public – wearing hijabs and speaking of jihad is nearly enough to induce cognitive whiplash!
In contrast, we hear President Trump speaking thus:
Through four decades of Communist rule, Poland and the other captive nations of Europe endured a brutal campaign to demolish freedom, your faith, your laws, your history, your identity—indeed the very essence of your culture and humanity. Yet, through it all, you never lost your spirit. Your oppressors tried to break you. But Poland could not be broken.
Hmmmm… “a brutal campaign to demolish freedom, your faith, your laws, your history, your identity” – am I the only one who hears in this depiction echoes of the dual campaign, by the enemies both without and within that I delineated above, to attack and destroy what’s left of Western Christendom’s faith, freedom, law, history, and identity? Yet the President is not afraid to praise that heritage! Here he is again:
We are the freest and the greatest community of nations the world has ever known. We write symphonies. We pursue innovation. We celebrate our ancient heroes, embrace our timeless traditions and customs, and always seek to explore and discover new frontiers. We reward brilliance, strive for excellence, and cherish inspiring works of art that honor God. We treasure the rule of law—and protect the right to free expression. We empower women as pillars of our society and our success. We put faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, at the center of our lives.
With respect to the threat from without, President Trump pointed out,
“We are confronted by another oppressive ideology—one that seeks to export terrorism and extremism all around the globe. America and Europe have suffered one terror attack after another… While we will always welcome new citizens who share our values and love our people, our borders will always be closed to terrorism and extremism. We cannot accept those who reject our values and use hatred to justify violence against the innocent.”
Please note: “new citizens.” Not “new migrants,” “new undocumented immigrants,” or some other form of weasel-words that, as “Virgil” put it, “fudges the distinction between legal and illegal.” The President ended with a ringing declaration, and challenge:
“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? Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect their borders? Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?
“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 civilization will triumph… So, together, let us all fight like the Poles – for family, for freedom, for country, and for God.”
Amen! Thank you, Mr. President. Well said, Sir!
That is a “Trump doctrine” I can get behind.