“Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, our civilization and to set free suffering humanity….and we know that by thy grace, and the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.”
Who wrote these words, asks John Fonte. Was it someone from the Alt-Right? A white nationalist, perhaps?
In fact, they were composed personally by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as a D-Day prayer and read to the nation in a radio address on the evening of June 6, 1944. Says Fonte: “They exemplify the high-water mark of a confident mid-20th century American liberalism that did not hesitate to attach the possessive pronoun our to concepts such as nation, religion, civilization, culture, and freedom.
The reaction of liberals to President Trump’s speech in Poland marks a low-water mark. So far.
Trump’s speech invoked the same values and institutions as Roosevelt’s address did: nation, religion, and civilization. As Fonte says, liberal dismay with the speech “reveals what [they] really think of the institutions and ideals that have for centuries been at the center of any decent society.”
Fonte makes the crucial point that the adverse reaction came not only from the fringes of the Far Left, but from the mainstream of American liberalism. Among those who denounced the speech were Peter Beinart and James Fallows at the Atlantic; Jeet Heer from The New Republic; Lawrence Summers, E.J. Dionne, Anne Applebaum, Richard Cohen, the editorial board of the Washington Post; and William Galston.
They have been flushed out. It’s helpful, if disheartening, to know where they stand.
Fonte reminds us of this prediction made twenty years ago in The National Interest by foreign policy scholar and Swarthmore professor James Kurth:
The real clash of civilizations will not be between the West and one or more of the Rest. It will be between the West and the Post-West, within the West itself.
Twenty years ago, I would have scoffed at this notion. Now, I fear it is spot on.
This post does not do justice to Fonte’s article. I urge you to read the whole thing.