With a monument to the 1944 Warsaw Uprising as his backdrop, President Trump delivered a forceful speech on the eve of the G20 Summit, sounding themes that would not be welcome by most other leaders of the world’s most economically powerful countries. Trump identified “the fundamental question of our time” as whether “the West has the will to survive.” The President asked, “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?” Trump also declared that
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 [Western] values and to erase the bonds of culture, faith, and tradition that make us who we are.
These particular lines of Trump’s speech were cited by The Atlantic’s Peter Beinart, the New Republic’s Jeet Heer, and many other leftists as evidence of what Beinart called “racial and religious paranoia” and Heer termed “white grievance.” Beinart objected because “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.” According to Beinart, the only reason for anyone to be alarmed by non-Western migration is a desire to preserve “white, Christian hegemony.” Heer objected because he saw Trump as “defining the West not based on ideas like democracy and liberty, but atavistic loyalties to territory and shared kinship” and as calling for a new “‘community of nations’ that, reading between the lines, is made up of white, Christian countries.”
As a matter of historical record, of course, what we call Western civilization—the melding of Roman culture and the folkways of the barbarian tribes that was mediated by the Western Church—did arise and develop in countries that were “largely Christian . . . and largely white.” Despite enjoying the many fruits of Western civilization, neither Beinart nor Heer evince any particular gratitude toward the nations that nurtured that civilization. Instead, they seem deeply offended that any of them might wish to retain its historic demographic makeup.
Preeminent among the European nations wishing to retain its identity is Poland, the country in which Trump chose to deliver his speech. The new president of France, Emmanuel Macron, has urged E.U. sanctions against Poland for refusing to accept Islamic immigrants. Not coincidentally, Macron’s presidential campaign consisted of a series of hosannas to the virtues of multiculturalism and globalism, including Macron’s bizarre claim that “There is no such thing as French culture.” No other people are expected to behave this way. Japan, for example, is a very wealthy country that allows virtually no immigration of any type. No one threatens economic sanctions on Japan over this, or even writes indignant articles in The Atlantic or the New Republic about it. Any Japanese politician who claimed that “there is no such thing as Japanese culture” would quickly sink into political oblivion. But in the ideology embraced by most of the leaders gathered for the G20 Summit and their media acolytes, the highest expression of European values is for Europe to cease being European. As James Burnham noted over 50 years ago, liberalism is the ideology of Western suicide.
It is wrong to dismiss opposition to this ideology as “racist.” At this writing, for example, many thousands of immigrants from the Middle East and Africa are hoping to be admitted into Italy. If everyone in the Middle East and Africa who wanted to come to Europe actually did, that number would be many millions. Given the very low birthrates in Italy and the very high birthrates in Africa and parts of the Middle East, it is easy to imagine unfettered immigration producing an Italy where Italians were greatly outnumbered in their own country. At some point, Italy would be, as Metternich quipped, merely a geographic expression, because “the bonds of culture, faith, and tradition” Trump spoke of could not possibly survive such a demographic deluge. A desire to preserve those bonds and to prevent your country from becoming something it never has been is simply, and profoundly, conservative.
“Poland is fighting” was the motto of the Home Army that rose up in Warsaw in 1944 with the aim of dislodging the Nazis and forestalling the communists. Poland is fighting still, against a globalist ideology that seeks to erase borders, and nations, and many other bonds that intellectuals dismiss but that human beings require. It is heartening that President Trump wants to put America on the right side in that fight for the soul of the West.