Sunday, July 9, 2017

Is Trump calling for a new Crusade?

The 'West' vs. the world; Donald Trump speaks in Poland 

I KEEP hoping that I'll wake up and the last six months would turn out to just be a nightmare. But no, Donald Trump is still there tweeting from the White House or delivering one of the most frightening speeches of his fledgling presidency.

The speech Trump gave last Thursday in Poland is so deeply troubling I find it hard to describe without referencing 1930's Germany. At the very least, it sounded like a call to arms to defend "western civilization," against the invading hordes from the east and south.

Trump's words sounded much like the rhetoric and world view espoused by white supremacists, rebranded as the alt-right, of the United States and extreme conservatism that is in power in Poland and threatening other parts of Europe.

"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 these values and to erase the bonds of culture, faith, and tradition that make us who we are,” said Trump. “If left unchecked, these forces will undermine our courage, sap our spirit, and weaken our will to defend ourselves and our societies.”

These are clearly not his words. The rhetorical flourishes in the speech come from a man whose most extreme denunciation is "very, very bad." It is basically a rewriting of Steve Bannon's speech 

In case you didn't get the message directed at his white audience, Trump went on to say, “The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive,” said the president, before posing a series of questions: “Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost? 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?”

But taken in the greater context of his six months in power, the speech is more than just an attack on terrorism. It pretty much reveals the true face of racism that has been a core element of his presidency and the campaign leading up to it. Trump's whole attempt to undermine President Barack Obama by continually questioning his legitimacy through his birther campaign is based on -- let's say it out loud and call it for what it is -- racism.

I know by bringing up "racism," some readers might think of me as the guy who called out "wolf" too often. But, too often, it is racism and it needs to be confronted and not ignored. 

"Western civilization," as uttered by Trump, is code for "white!" The "West" includes only white Europe and America and white Christendom. 

The speech in Poland was a dog whistle against the world's nonwhite peoples. Mexico and Latin America are not included in Trump's "West" otherwise he would open the southern borders to those of the Christian faith. In that instance, race trumps religion.

We need to also look at the context in which Trump speaks to his people. Trump has continued to scapegoat immigrants of color and seeks to disenfranchise votors of color and his close "advisors" have their roots in white supremacism 

Chance Devega writes in Salon: "Donald Trump’s administration is built around a brain trust of white nationalists. To deny that fact is to ignore a crucial element of this national crisis: America’s 'greatest generation' defeated Nazism during World War II, and 70 or so years later one of the country’s two leading political parties has injected a more polite version of that poison into its veins and rode to power in Washington on a wave of bigotry and racism."

Among the men who have President Trump’s ear, we find White House strategist Steve Bannon, senior adviser Stephen Miller, deputy assistant to the president Sebastian Gorka and newly installed Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

In Poland, Trump seemed to be channeling Steve Bannon, who through the rightwing Breitbart news organ, mainstreamed the alt-right. 

In a 2014 speech, delivered through Skype, in front of the conservative Catholic goruop, the Human Dignityi Institute, Bannon described a vast, historic, and religious struggle between the West and its many adversaries. He urged that militant Christians “fight for our beliefs against this new barbarity that’s starting.” In this great battle, the U.S. is clearly identified as the primary flag bearer of the Good and the True, embodying both “a church and a civilization” that is nothing less than the “flower of mankind.

In previous speeches by U.S. Presidents on European soill, Ronald Reagan, both Bushes and Barack Obama extolled the virtues of democracy and a free market and a free society vs. those who build walls to keep their people in, disdain a free press and limit human rights.

In contrast, Trump expressed his disdain of democratic institutions such as an independent judiciary, a free press and seeks to limit travel and turns his back against refugees fleeing despotic regimes. To his Polish hosts, Trump's words must have sounded sweet. 
Poland is run by conservative Law and Justice political party that has launched an assault on the press and courts and, by doing so, alienated all of its most important European neighbors. In Poland, Trump has found a role model for where he wants for the U.S.

Trump might be calling for a new Crusade - a word that will get the attention of Muslims. If so, he's playing right into the hands of Isis and other extremists of that ilk. I can see his speech being replayed on terrorists' websites around the world as a rallying cry against the United States.