“These ideals are ‘Western’ not because they are exclusive to the West, but because of the historical fact that they emanated from the West. ‘Western’ values are universal, and Trump affirmed their universality in Warsaw, declaring that ‘we value the dignity of every human life, protect the rights of every person, and share the hope of every soul to live in freedom’ ”.
The President Trump’s speech in Warsaw calling on the West “to summon the courage and the will to defend our civilization” has drawn irrational criticism. His words could have been delivered by almost any American President of either party in the past century: by Truman, who in 1952 praised the US for saving “Western civilization from enslavement by a godless creed”; by Kennedy, who in a 1963 in West Germany spoke of “preserving Western culture, and Western religion, and Western civilization”; by Johnson, who warned in 1966 of “ideologies . . . that threaten the very roots of our common Western civilization”; by Bill Clinton, who declared in 1994 that “Western civilization was the greatest of all. . . the belief that the future could be better than the present and that we have an obligation to make it so”. But Sarah Wildman says he “sounded like an alt-right manifesto”; Peter Beinart complained that “his white nationalist supporters will understand exactly what he means” because “the West is a racial and religious term”. No, it isn’t. Western civilization is founded on ideas that transcend race and religion. Historian Donald Kagan: “Americans do not share a common ancestry and a common blood. What they have in common is a system of laws and beliefs (...) within the context of Western civilization”. Which is? The separation of church from state, creating a free place for the individual conscience; the first democracy in Greece (predating Christianity); the principles enshrined in Magna Carta; the works of the Renaissance humanists; and the Enlightenment philosophers that inspired our Declaration of Independence. However, since the 1980s, the left is on a crusade to drum the study of Western civilization out of universities in the name of fighting “Eurocentrism.” Now they want to drum Western values out of presidential rhetoric. We must not let them do so. Trump has said many objectionable things, but his defense of Western civilization in Warsaw was not one of them.