Since at least the frantic 1960s, the most extreme liberals have condemned the United States of America as racist (not to mention imperialist, sexist, homophobic), based on the “progressive” assumption that societies that do not have “acceptable” opinions, passions and interests are illegitimate. Most ordinary folks typically dismiss these rants as the preoccupation of a small, uninfluential minority. But unfortunately we cannot be sure of that.
For not only is that contempt for America the animating passion of a very influential minority, but they have recently made explicit what was already implied in their thinking, namely that ALL of Western civilization falls under the condemnation. How do we know this? Because several commentators told us so in their reaction to President Donald Trump’s recent admirable speech in defense of Western Civilization.
In what follows, I will reveal the hysterical reaction from each commentator to specific portions of Trump’s speech. Kudos to John Hinderaker at the Powerline blog for calling these comments to public attention, some from websites, others from publications. There are many more, he noted.
Amanda Marcotte writes at Salon: “Trump’s alt-right [July 13] Poland speech: Time to call his white nationalist rhetoric what it is.” How so?
“Trump argued that Western (read: white) nations are ‘the fastest and the greatest community’ and the ‘world has never known anything like our community of nations.’ He crowed about how Westerners (read: white people) ‘write symphonies,’ ‘pursue innovation’ and ‘always seek to explore and discover brand-new frontiers’”…
Notice that Marcotte reads Western as “white.” Of course, it’s a fact, but color has nothing to do with it, as Western civilization has spread to much of the non-white world, especially the Far East. Not to mention that non-white citizens of the Western world have displayed the very talents Trump praised. As we have painfully learned, color is an incidental trait of human beings, not an essential one.
Next, Sarah Wildman writes at Vox: “Trump’s speech in Poland sounded like an alt-right manifesto.” How so?
“In his address, Trump cast the West, including the United States and Europe, on the side of ‘civilization.’ With an undercurrent of bellicosity, he spoke of protecting borders, casting himself as a defender not just of territory but of Western ‘values.’"
Fortunately, is not yet official government policy here (Europe is another matter) to forbid the use of our minds to make distinctions between nations which have abolished slavery and those which have not. So we “value” Western Civilization for having led the way on this matter. That is indeed something worth defending. The West should, we hope, “prevail” over those ISIS and Al-Qaida slave masters, including their white sympathizers and supporters in the West.
And check this out:
Common Dreams (“Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community”): “‘Disturbing’ Undertones Detected in Trump’s Bizarre Poland Speech.”
“In his speech in Poland on Thursday, Donald Trump referred 10 times to 'the West’ and five times to ‘our civilization.’ His white nationalist supporters will understand exactly what he means. It’s important that other Americans do, too.
“The West is a racial and religious term. To be considered Western, a country must be largely Christian (preferably Protestant or Catholic) and largely white.”
Certainly these descriptions are "largely" accurate, but Beinart implies that they are questionable on that very basis, no less because of Westerners’ allegedly blameworthy skin complexion. Did he “forget” about Israel, a “Western” nation in the Middle East? Would he say the same about Arabs who are “largely” Muslim, or Indians, who are “largely” Hindi?
Jonathan Capehart’s article in the Washington Post is headlined: “Trump’s white-nationalist dog whistles in Warsaw.”
“This is the same crowd that brays about the superiority of ‘Western civilization’ and its contributions in the history of the world [which] conveniently ignores (or perhaps is just plain ignorant about) what we’ve adopted from Muslims and the Middle East. Those symphonies Trump says ‘We write’ (ahem) would be real lame without the influence of the Middle East and Muslims (the lute, musical scales and the ancestor of the violin).”
Doubtless many of us Westerners are “just plain ignorant about” this Muslim contribution, but it is obvious that it went nowhere where it originated and very far indeed in the West. The “legacy” was just lying waiting for someone else to put it to use.
It’s time to say here that Trump never once used the “unacceptable” word “white” in his speech, not because he was hiding any “racist” agenda, but because it is not relevant, however much it characterizes most Western peoples.
These fevered reactions demonstrate clearly that leading liberals are at war with their own way of life. They are at best lukewarm defenders of the West.
Trump spoke the truth. Good for him.
Richard Reeb taught political science, philosophy and journalism at Barstow Community College from 1970 to 2003. He is the author of "Taking Journalism Seriously: 'Objectivity' as a Partisan Cause" (University Press of America, 1999). He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org