I join John in utter amazement (though not surprise) about the left’s freak out over Donald Trump’s defense of the West in his terrific Warsaw speech. From the reaction John and others have highlighted, you’d have thought Trump had called Russia an “evil empire” or something. (Heh.) I hope Trump continues this theme, and provides the left with more beclowning opportunities. If this keeps up Trump is going to carry 45 states in 2020. Who could have foreseen that Donald Trump would become the rhetorical successor to Solzhenitsyn at Harvard in 1978 or Pope Benedict XVI at Regensburg in 2006?
It is a tedious chore to unwrap everything wrong with the left’s reaction to Trump’s speech and the wider issues it raises. (Jonah Goldberg does a concise job of it in his most recent G-file.) I decided to dust off James Burnham’s classic, Suicide of the West: An Essay on the Meaning and Destiny of Liberalism, first published in 1964 but recently reissued by the great people at Encounter Books, for a refresher on why the reaction to Trump is nothing new. There are lots of illuminating passages in Burnham (who is enjoying something of a revival recently), but this one (at pp. 178-178 if you want to look it up) fits nicely for the present moment:
The average liberal is just not too concerned about, not so emotionally involved in, nationhood, national patriotism, sovereignty and Liberty as is a fellow citizen to his ideological Right. It does not shock him when bearded young men say they will never fight for their country, nor is he indignant even when they express preference for a country other than their own. If a mob in an underdeveloped land smashes the consulate or embassy of his nation, he is not much aroused; indeed, he may well conclude, after interpreting the facts, that justice was on the side of the rioters. He feels little thrill when the flag goes by. And quite probably finds pledges to the flag or oaths of allegiance actively distasteful. He approves of many of the weighty books setting out to show the relativity and morality equivalence of diverse religions and cultures, and to decry the backwardness of those Westerners who still believe that in some rather important sense Western civilization is superior to Buddhism, Islam, communism, atheism and animism, and therefore worth preserving. . .
It does not seem to him an anomaly that his own nation’s communications industry should on a massive scale print the books, produce the plays and movies, present the television scripts of those who hate his nation and his civilization, and seek, often avowedly, the destruction of both.