This morning in Warsaw, Poland, President Donald Trump issued a battle cry — for “family, for freedom, for country, and for God” — in a speech that often resorted to rhetorical conceits typically used by the European and American alt-right. It sounded, at times, not just like the populists of the present but the populists of the past.
Drafted by Steve Miller, the architect of the travel ban, Trump’s speech used the type of dire, last-chance wording often utilized by the far right on both sides of the Atlantic: “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?” Trump 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 arrived in Warsaw Wednesday night for a 16-hour visit in the runup to the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. Poland was a less-than-obvious choice for Trump’s first major public European speech. Typically, American presidents land in London, Paris, or Berlin before Eastern Europe. But Trump has been at odds with German Chancellor Angela Merkel over everything from climate change to migrant policy, and French President Emmanuel Macron has also positioned himself as a counterweight to the conservative American administration. The Polish leadership, on the other hand, seems to have more in common with Trump’s vision.
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.” And, using the phrase he had avoided on his trip to Saudi Arabia, he insisted that in the fight against “radical Islamic terrorism,” the West “will prevail.”
Again and again, Trump held up Poland as an example, saying their history reminds the world that “the defense of the West ultimately rests not only on means but also on the will of the people to prevail.” He recalled the story of the Warsaw uprising against the Nazis in 1944: “The West,” he said, “was saved with the blood of patriots.”
That battle, the president seemed to say, is ongoing. He called on a new generation to rise up, saying “every last inch of civilization is worth defending with your life.”
“Just as Poland could not be broken, I declare today for the world to hear that the West will never, ever be broken,” Trump said. “Our values will prevail, our people will thrive, and our civilization will triumph.”
Apparently Democrats are opposed to family, freedom, country, and God.