A conservative American President in Poland

President Trump said,

Our soldiers still serve together today in Afghanistan and Iraq, combating the enemies of all civilization.

…I am here today not just to visit an old ally, but to hold it up as an example for others who seek freedom and who wish to summon the courage and the will to defend our civilization.

…The people of Poland, the people of America, and the people of Europe still cry out “We want God.”

…We are fighting hard against radical Islamic terrorism, and we will prevail. We cannot accept those who reject our values and who use hatred to justify violence against the innocent.

…The West became great not because of paperwork and regulations but because people were allowed to chase their dreams and pursue their destinies.

Americans, Poles, and the nations of Europe value individual freedom and sovereignty. We must work together to confront forces, whether they come from inside or out, from the South or the East, that threaten over time to undermine these values and to erase the bonds of culture, faith and tradition that make us who we are.

…The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive. 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?

Thanks to a reader for pointing out how much this speech uses the language of civilization vs. barbarism. Predictably, the speech will thrill a conservative. My guess is that it will do little for libertarians and nothing for progressives.

In fact, the WaPo reliably has a front-page newsitorial that begins

President Trump brought a starkly populist and nationalistic message to Europe on Thursday, characterizing Western civilization as under siege and putting the United States on a potential collision course with European and Asian powers that embrace a more cooperative approach to the world.

In contrast, the WSJ story leads with

In a bid to broaden the nationalist vision he has long embraced, President Donald Trump on Thursday described the West as locked in a struggle it could lose unless it can “summon the courage” to see it through.

The WSJ lead is neither pro-Trump nor anti-Trump. The WaPo has to describe Trump as putting the U.S. on a “potential collision course” with allies. As is often the case in the WaPo these days, the lead editorial is less biased and hostile than the lead “news” story.

After more than 35 years, I have decided to end my subscription to the WaPo and get the WSJ instead. I certainly will continue to pay attention to progressive narratives and ideas. But my wife and I decided that it feels wrong to reward the WaPo for its unrelenting front-page bias. It is no longer a newspaper.

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26 Responses to A conservative American President in Poland

  1. Thales says:

    “After more than 35 years, I have decided to end my subscription to the WaPo…”

    Just buy stuff on Amazon. It all goes to the same guy, and you’ll get more for you money.

  2. Paul A Sand says:

    I’m currently reading your “Three Languages” book, and (hence) noted the “dominant heuristic” in Trump’s speech. It’s like you gave me homework!

    For another “progressive” take on the speech in the WaPo: Jonathan Capehart is even more unconsciously true to form.

    “We write symphonies.” What on Earth does that have to do with anything? It’s bad enough Trump is doing the one thing his predecessors studiously avoided: engaging in the battle-of-civilizations talk that inflames anger and tensions with Muslims, particularly in the Middle East. In that one line, taken in context with everything else Trump said, what I heard was the loudest of dog whistles. A familiar boast that swells the chests of white nationalists everywhere. And Trump’s seeming non sequitur would have gone right over my head were it not for the past white-chauvinist musings of Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa).

    Anyway, thanks for the book.

    • Andrew' says:

      Ummm, civilized people can’t be offended to terrorism. And terrorists can’t be appeased to pacifism.

      I promise, if they simply stopped murdering children and other innocents all we would do is buy their oil.

      All the brown devils would simply be irrelevant to the vast majority of Americans.

  3. Andrew' says:

    When I try to feel the libertarian instinct, the speech does a lot for me as well, but my spidey sense perks up at mentions of “god” and “will.”

    First, they have their God as well. And this isn’t a fight that will be won by will or willingness to get tough. OTOH, Europe could be a little less milquetoast.

    • Andrew' says:

      This is not a war to fight expansively, it is one to fight as narrowly as possible, including divide and ally to carve out the real threat, encircle it, defang it, demoralize it, and destroy it. The lessons are there to be learned from Israel, just not the lessons conservatives are likely to take.

  4. Handle says:

    Sounds like what Tolkien might have written were he a Presidential speechwriter.

  5. collin says:

    In reality, the speech was fairly non-specific so a lot of blind people felt a different part of the elephant from it. So conservatives heard that they are protecting citizens from the barbarians while the liberals, especially minorities, understood they were the barbarians at the doorstep.

    • Andrew' says:

      Crap now I have to read the whole thing. Your first sentence is getting it. Your second sentence I suspect is half right. Maybe it is 3/4s right, but only because the MSN and DNC convinced them to always hear racism.

  6. Nicholas Weininger says:

    Arnold, I think you continue to underrate the extent to which the liberal establishment’s opposition to Trump (not at all the same as campus radicals’ opposition) is based on the civilization vs barbarism axis. Would you expect the WaPo to have been evenhanded about a speech by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi or Richard Spencer?

    On the liberal establishment view, Trump is precisely the sort of mortal threat to Western civilized values that he purports to exhort us to defend against. This view is not without reason, given the long history of political leaders (Western and otherwise) using “we must defend our civilization against the barbarian hordes” as a rationalization for committing barbaric atrocities themselves.

    The liberal establishment views the Trump administration in much the same way as certain segments of the right (notably birthers) viewed the Obama administration: not as a government supported by ordinary civilized Americans with different policy preferences, but as an occupation by a malevolent and savage foreign power. In my view, the central challenge to our political institutions today is that almost anyone elected President would be viewed that way by at least 35% of the population, probably at least 40%.

    I don’t see how we get to a peaceful solution to that challenge anytime soon. I would prefer radical devolution of power, but there is no real constituency for that, as we’ve seen from both the left-wing fight against allowing states to choose their own health care regulatory regime, and the efforts of right-wing state governments to “preempt” local laws they don’t like. People who chafe under occupation are quick to adopt the mental attitudes and rhetoric of “mission civilatrice” colonialists as soon as they get to be the occupiers.

  7. asdf says:

    What would a Europe that was majority Muslim look like? Does anyone think about that prospect and say “yeah, I’ve got a good reason to believe that is a state of affairs I would want to live in.”

    I’ve yet to hear what the libertarian plan for a majority NAM “West” is. What do they think it would look like? What would is be like to live in? I mean realistically, not what it would be like if a libertarian Philosopher-God-King with absolute power were running things.

    If they can’t answer that question satisfactorily, is a single thing they have to say meaningful when I consider the world my descendants will inherit?

    • Handle says:

      What is the “best” fully independent country in the world , with a population over one million, with a majority of the population being descended from neither Europeans nor Northeast Asians, and which does not derive more than a third of its GDP from natural resource exports?

      There are some arguable, marginal cases, but in general it looks like the level of development of about Turkey or Malaysia is as high as it gets.

      • asdf says:

        One of my most formative experiences was from my dorm in college. Our college had a deal with the Malaysian oil company and we had a lot of Malaysians living in our dorm and going to school to get training in engineering and then going back home to Malaysia.

        Most of them were Malay, but we had one Chinese Malay. There was a ton of tension in the dorm between them, and the Chinese girl was pretty upfront about what conditions were like for her people as a minority in Malaysia. Malaysia’s affirmative action on steroids system is well known, and it sheds Chinese citizens over time as they get tired of it. Once this girl was done with her mandatory work at the Malaysian oil company paying for her education she planned to get out. From what I saw if Malaysia is the best case scenario for a post-white America, I’ll pass.

        Most of those Chinese flee to Singapore, the only country in the world led by an out and out HBD race realist (at least until recently). Nor was he a race realist of the cuck Charles Murray variety, but the kind that has illegal immigrants to Singapore caned by a professional pain specialist and had the equivalent of Malay Lives Matter locked up in prison for causing trouble.

        After visiting Singapore I was even more impressed then simply reading about it. It’s amazing what they’ve accomplished. Even on the issue of racial harmony its clear that LKYs policies worked. One of the first things people in the street would brag about was how Singapore was a successful multi-racial state, though they were able to do this without racial guilt, multi-cultural nonsense, or virtue signaling. NAMs respect strength and confidence and nothing else.

        Turkey of course is descending into some kind of authoritarian state.

        So dysfunctional middle income trap country led by people who hate me with laws the disenfranchise me. I’ll pass.

    • Andrew' says:


      Will the Muslims dis place progressives and ultra-conservatives?

      You have heard the libertarian plan: libertarianism.

  8. JK Brown says:

    “a starkly populist and nationalistic message”

    They keep pushing that. Timothy Taylor posted an except from an Orwell 1945 essay last Monday. It makes a distinction that the anti-Trumpers can’t/won’t comprehend

    “Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved. By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.”

    I see those pushing the EU/UN and the citizen of the world idea to be nationalists by this definition.

  9. sk says:

    And do you think what you say about WaPo applies to NYT?

  10. CJS says:

    What does what’s on the front page of Washington Post rile you up so much? The best I can figure is 20 years of being around extreme liberals working in the federal government who read the WaPo regularly and uncritically has given you a near unending ability to fixate on them and their wording. Like, why do they even matter? My impression is that their circulation isn’t that impressive compared to other news outlets, including online conservative news.

    • Asdf says:

      Why do people read the official press is an authoritarian state? To find out the official line and understand what official policies are likely to affect them.

      • Handle says:

        Right. I check the NYT every day for this reason, though I stopped reading Krugman altogether years ago for being so consistently unreliable and for reasons similar to our host for canceling his WaPost subscription. The Atlantic and The Economist are still good for this too, though, they are not great sources for helping one forecast tomorrow’s official lines so one isn’t suddenly surprised, e.g. all the recent gender stuff. For those ideas one needs to check more avant garde progressive outlets, which, because they are small niche sites not in the mass propaganda business, are actually much more frank and forthright about following the logical implications of their principles than, say, WaPost.

  11. Tom G says:

    Trump Derangement Syndrome, an advancement over the prior Bush Derangement Syndrome, is driving Democrats crazy.
    They seem to truly believe that love of country, ‘patriotism’, is as evil as aggressive nationalism that seeks domination over others.
    @Nicholas above correctly notes that the Dem establishment (not really liberal), does feel that Trump is an evil Nazi. So it’s their duty, against evil, to oppose him.
    But to a greater or lesser extent, they claim ALL Republicans are evil — which is why they discriminate against almost all Reps, almost all the time.
    They “won” the media-academia-gov’t culture war.
    Now they’re trying to treat Republicans about the same way as actual German Nazis treated Jews.
    In the backlash against this, conservatives need somebody who will fight.
    Trump fights.

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