Left-wing pundits reacted angrily to President Donald Trump’s speech in Warsaw, Poland, on Thursday, accusing him of racism for defending the “West.”
Peter Beinart, writing in The Atlantic, asserted: “The West is a racial and religious term.” He added: “To be considered Western, a country must be largely Christian (preferably Protestant or Catholic) and largely white.”
Therefore, he said, Trump’s speech was racist, because some Europeans are Muslim, and some nations that have embraced democracy or modernity are outside the West’s geographic boundaries. “India is the world’s largest democracy. Japan is among its most economically advanced nations. No one considers them part of the West,” he noted.
In addition, Beinart also claimed that Trump’s statement that “The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive,” a climax of the speech, “only makes sense as a statement of racial and religious paranoia.”
Beinart’s commentary drew some ridicule on Twitter, with historian Niall Ferguson calling it “a masterclass in willful misreading of a speech,” and conservative Charles C. W. Cooke adding: “Trump finally makes a full-throated defense of NATO—is that code for “white people” too?—and this is the response? We’ve lost our minds.”
Noted. One can’t talk about—or praise—“the West” anymore without being a racist. https://t.co/D8Gno4UN6M
— Charles C. W. Cooke (@charlescwcooke) July 7, 2017
Jeet Heer, at the New Republic, called Trump’s address an “alt-right” speech in a commentary titled: “An International Brotherhood of White Grievance.” He likened Trump’s ideas to those of Pat Buchanan, adding: “Such rhetoric is meant to conjure blood-and-soil nationalism. Here, Trump is defining the West not based on ideals like democracy and liberty, but atavistic loyalties to territory and shared kinship.”
He also complained about what he saw as Trump’s implication “that American progressives, in their effort to expand the government’s influence on society, are the modern-day counterparts of the communists that threatened Poland.”
The Washington Post‘s Eugene Robinson was somewhat more restrained, deriding Trump for portraying history “as a zero-sum clash of civilizations in which ‘the West’ can triumph by imposing its will.”
He suggested that Trump had adopted an outdated, imperialistic perspective: “The speech Trump delivered Thursday in Warsaw’s Krasinski Square might have been appropriate when Britannia ruled the waves and Europe’s great powers held dominion over “lesser” peoples around the globe. It had nothing useful to say about today’s interconnected world in which goods, people and ideas have contempt for borders.”
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.