What the idea of civilization does (and doesn’t) mean to Trump
Want a smart analysis of the most important news in your inbox every day of the week with other global readings, ideas and interesting opinions you know? Sign up for the WorldView newsletter today.
It is no coincidence that President Trump chose the Polish capital to offer his latest Jeremiad on the dangers facing the West.
The nationalist government of the country in this gave the American leader a platform to plant their flag before this can be an irritable summit of the Group of 20 in Germany.
The ruling party of Poland hired Trump supporters in the country’s rural Warsaw – a movement familiar to the most populist men.
“A large crowd with Polish and American flags gathered in the square to Trump’s statements,” my colleagues wrote. “At least one person waved flag ‘make United States Big Again’ campaign, and another waved a Confederate flag.”
Then Trump spoke about what is now a familiar topic. He warned against the dangers facing his country and Europe, especially those of Islamic extremism and immigration. They are, in your mind, existential challenges. “The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive,” Trump said.
This near-apocalyptic sense of fatalism possessed Trump rhetoric for months, even during his inaugural address, which invokes the specter of “American carnage.” His message is the perennial fear of a dark and dangerous world.
Undisguised hostility toward Islam and immense immigrants seems deeply rooted among White House nationalist ideologues, including Stephen K. Advisors
Bannon and Stephen Miller, who wrote the last speech. In an essay published last year, Michael Anton, director of communications for the National Security Council, suggested that increasing immigration in a country is a sign of “a people, a civilization that wants to die.”
In Warsaw, Trump has called for nationalism and blood on the floor and Christian triumphalism that defines its brand policy and one of the far right in Europe.
“We can have the biggest economies and the deadliest weapons 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 that the world understands that the West will never break,” Trump said in a final form of bravado. “Our values prevail, our people prosper, and our civilization will triumph.”
But what values? Which people? And what civilization? Trump, after all, said that his vision of the West is different from that invoked by the establishment in force.
“I’m going to work with our allies to revitalize Western values and institutions,” Trump said during the election campaign last April.
“Instead of trying to spread” universal values ”that everyone disagrees with, we must understand that the strengthening and promotion of Western civilization and its achievements inspire more positive reforms in the world than military interventions.”