The Intercollegiate Studies institute named the late Sir Roger Scruton its “Defender of Western Civilization” for 2019 – a richly deserved honor! – on September 19th, not long before he lost his battle with an aggressive form of cancer.
In his acceptance speech, Sir Roger gave what I think is perhaps the finest short description of Western civilization ever crafted – certainly that I have ever seen:
“Western civilization has come in for a lot of attack because it’s Western. The word Western has been taken to be a standard term of abuse by so many people in the world today, and in particular by people who don’t have the faintest idea what it means, historically, metaphysically, or poetically. Our Western civilization is not some peculiar, narrow little obsession of people who happen to live in a certain geographical part of the world. It is an inheritance, constantly expanding, constantly including new things. It is something which has given us the knowledge of the human heart, which has enabled us to produce not just wonderful economies and the wonderful ways of living in the world that are ours, but also the great works of art, the religions, the systems of law and government, all the other things which make it actually possible for us to recognize that we live in this world, insofar as possible, successfully.”
But please – read the whole essay. It’s splendid. Writings by Sir Roger generally are. May God rest his soul!