When one trudges through existence with a particular proto-Marxist worldview that fetishizes victimhood, the inevitable outgrowth of such perpetual hysteria manifests itself in assertions that seem to grow more and more hyperbolic with time. Such was the case for pundit and pro-Palestinian activist Peter Beinart when he wrote a Thursday piece entitled The Racial and Religious Paranoia of Trump’s Warsaw Speech featured in The Atlantic.
Beinart’s thesis, with all of the histrionics and racialization of a Michael Eric Dyson sermon, was this: “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.”
Everything, to the Left, is a dog whistle. You can’t talk about federalism without being tied to Orval Faubus. Enforcement of the law is code for the mass incarceration of racial minorities. Now, apparently, one can’t claim that Western civilization is morally superior to despotic theocracies in the Middle East without the clairvoyant Beinart knowing in the depths of his soul that you’re winking to white nationalists. It’s the criminalization of conservatism.
While it’s obvious to most Americans what Trump was saying - that Western values of freedom and democracy, which are accessible to anyone willing to embrace their mantle, face an existential threat in the global Caliphate its enemies desire - universities and academic institutions have so deeply embedded in students a disdain for the West to a degree that any support of it against even the most pernicious of opponents cannot go unquestioned.
Beinart, evidently still adept at telepathically knowing the motives of his political opponents, stated that “when Trump warned Poles about forces ‘from the south or the east, that threaten … to erase the bonds of culture, faith, and tradition,’ he was talking not about Christianity but about Christendom: a particular religious civilization that must protect itself from outsiders.”
This is an inference without substance; what Trump said was exactly right. Those forces “from the south or the east” do threaten “bonds of culture, faith and tradition.” How do we know? Because they’ve told us so, directly and indirectly. As the Islamophobia lobby points out with tiresome frequency, ISIS’ narrative is, by its own account, one that pits itself against the West, from which obviously emanate all of those “bonds of culture, faith and tradition” to which Trump refers.
After making a spurious but altogether predictable link between the “increasingly authoritarian” governments in Poland and the US, Beinart catastrophized with melodramatic refrain (emphasis mine): “The most shocking sentence in Trump’s speech—perhaps the most shocking sentence in any presidential speech delivered on foreign soil in my lifetime—was his claim that ‘The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive.”
While it shocked Mr. Beinart to hear it uttered after eight years of smarmy double-talk about the West, Trump’s question is the question. Are the freedoms we fought for in the West worth preserving, even when every pillar of institutional life in America tells you otherwise? Beinart’s fundamental assumption, that “when Trump says being Western is the essence of America’s identity, he’s in part defining America in opposition to some of its own people,” is completely disconnected from the American creed.
If you buy into the credos of e pluribus unum, individual liberty, separation of powers, and self-sacrifice toward patriotic ends, you’re an American, no matter what you look like. Beinart’s attempt to frame it otherwise is nothing more than a needless racialization of Trump’s best speech.