During a stop in Warsaw, Poland, President Donald Trump delivered a speech that was a full-throated defense of Western Civilization and values. Even many of his critics nodded approvingly, noting that the speech seemed to evoke President Ronald Reagan at his finest rather than the quasi-isolationist Trump of the campaign. However, not everyone was quite as enthusiastic.

Peter Beinart was pretty sure the speech was racist

Writing for the Atlantic, Peter Beinart saw a lot of racist overtones in Trump’s speech. He wrote, “His white nationalist supporters will understand exactly what he means.” The term “the West” was the one thing that seemed to trigger Beinart.

To be part of “the West” one has to be Christian and white, according to the Atlantic article.

Beinhart also objected to Trump’s suggestion that the West needs to have the will to survive against the onslaught of Islamic jihadism. He finds this not only ludicrous but racist and Islamophobic. The jihadists cannot bring down Western Civilization, not matter how many people they murder, in his view. Beinhart even invoked Trump’s Obama-era’s tweaking about the then president’s birthplace as proof about what he “really meant.”

Rod Dreher defends Trump

Writing in the American Conservative, Rod Dreher suggests that people like Beinart really hate Western Civilization to be capable of writing things like that.

What we call “the West” has as its origin Greek philosophy. Roman law, and, yes, the Judeo-Christian Bible filtered through the genius of the Enlightenment. The West shares values of democracy, tolerance, and respect for freedom.

Moreover, Western Civilization is not ethnically based, but value based. Martin Luther King invoked the values of the West, especially Christianity when he called for a nation that judged its children on the content of their character and not the color of their skin.

Indeed anyone, not matter their ethnic origin, who embodies the values of the West is a member of Western Civilization.

To be sure, by themselves, the jihadists cannot bring down the West. However, Dreher points out that Western Civilization can fall if enough people like Beinhart come to believe that there can be no distinguishing between John Locke, Voltaire, and Adam Smith on the one hand and Adolf Hitler, David Duke, and Richard Spencer on the other.

Then people will conclude that our civilization is not worth defending.

Donald Trump may not be the best person to defend western values

The idea that Trump, a flawed human being, is not the sort of person we need defending our civilization is a valid one. His life is an embodiment of the decadence and vulgarity that has so enraptured the elites of the modern era. On the other hand, he is the president of the United States, and so he is what we got. He seemed far more willing to defend the West than his cultured, educated, and very angry predecessor to the office.