The political left really, really, really doesn't approve of Western civilization. If you doubt it, reference the maledictions poured out by the left on Donald Trump's Warsaw speech last week.
Trump had the effrontery to say, "The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive." Followed by rhetorical inquiries: "Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost? Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?"
Such as? That's my question, not Trump's. Such as Jamelle Bouie of Slate, who, deeply offended, tells us, "You don't have to have a deep familiarity with the tropes of white supremacy to see this"—here Boule uses an indelicate noun—"for what it is." As Salon's Amanda Marcotte sees it, Trump "(jumped) the alt-right shark in his Warsaw speech."
Plenty more of this stuff around the place. I encourage a diligent search—for evidence that not a few of the bearers of modern thought may rightly be described as "gaga" when the topic is Donald Trump, especially when Trump can be portrayed as a stand-in for the grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan or some other avatar of "nationalism."
The critics of our president's Warsaw remarks (which were written, reportedly, by Stephen Miller, with documented inserts by Trump himself) regard the speech as playing to "nationalist," "xenophobic" and "racist" elements of the American electorate. The ease wherewith Bouie and his fellow scoffers gambol in Trump's subconscious, divining all his motives, is truly impressive. Equally notable is their exasperation over his use of words like "the West." The concept of the West, in left-wing terms, is so . . . pre-1965. We don't talk about "the West" anymore, save to reproach old dead white men who used to defend segregation while locking up women at home to dust Pa's gun case and look after the babies.
As if any of that were the Western legacy on whose behalf the left is unwilling to say a word. It's not, of course, but you can see their point: They just really don't like the West. They may not know what system or culture they prefer to ours, Marxism having disappeared over the hill, but when they think of the West, all they can think of is white male privilege. That's their idea—the deep-dyed "progressive" idea—of the gifts that Western minds and Western experience have bestowed on the world, starting with Greece and Rome.
How about the spirit of liberty: might not that be one of the West's prime contributions? The liberty to say not just wise but also foolish things? Order within an environment of freedom is a Western contribution. A commitment to justice and fairness in human relations is another.
With freedom of thought goes freedom of worship—a distinctly Western development, playing out in various American venues as freedom not to worship at all; yet guaranteeing access to God should He at some point decide to break back into human hearts. The non-religion of the left, exemplified lately by Bernie Sanders, is curious in its determination to see religion as useless if not dangerous. Which doesn't stop the left from excoriating as racist the West's apparent unwillingness to relinquish Christianity and open the gates to non-Christians without number.
Trump or no Trump (hooray for him, by the way, on this particular occasion), the American left resents and resists the very question, "Are Western norms worth defending?" "Of course not," would be their reply. Not—just yet—in those exact words, but you get the idea. Their contention is that we have to get past the West and past, in particular, political leaders who think enough of the West to praise it. A revolutionary situation, you could call this, wherein the talkative class calls for the overhaul of America in the name of putting down Donald Trump. You don't have to adore our frequently unadorable president to see how the political battle lines are shaping up.
William Murchison's latest book is The Cost of Liberty: The Life of John Dickinson. To find out more about William Murchison, and to see features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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[Image: By The White House from Washington, DC (President Trump's Trip to Poland) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]
William Murchison is a corresponding editor of Chronicles and the author of The Cost of Liberty: The Life of John Dickinson (ISI) and Mortal Follies: Episcopalians and the Crisis of Mainline Christianity. William Murchison, syndicated columnist and longtime commentator on religious, cultural, and political affairs, has contributed to many national publications, including the Wall Street Journal, National Review, The Weekly Standard, and First Things.