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'We Want God,' Says Donald Trump in Poland
The Warsaw speech pits western world against barbarians at the gates. Is this a 'God of the West' or what? It is blasphemy to misuse the name of God for one's own selfish purposes. Trump should stop.
By David Smith
Editor's Note: The president of the United States gave a speech about public theology today, believe it or not, but not in this country. Yes, Donald Trump, the very one who can rarely speak more than a few words without lying, said today in Poland that America, Poland, and Europe "want God". So Trump is using this word, "god", and associating it with what he himself is saying, associating it with what he believes, over against others, others who are not "Western" in their origins or languages. That would be, apparently, those who live in the East (including China) and the Middle East, including Israel and Saudi Arabia.
What God exactly is this that Donald Trump knows is wanted by everyone in America? Does everyone in this country and Europe worship the same God? In Poland, most are Roman Catholic. But Trump is not doing what the Roman Catholic Pope wants in such areas as climate change.
To use the word "god" in a speech that is speaking of civilizational conflict is blasphemy, it is a call to war against those who supposedly worship a different God. Do not Muslims worship God? Is this the same god as the other religions of the book, Judaism and Christianity?
If Trump is referring to the God of Christianity then why does he not know that this God is a God of justice, a God who calls us to welcome the stranger and those different from us, a God who wants peace on earth and good will among all. It is time to tell Trump and all politicians to stop using the word "god" to justify their politics.
The article below is from The Guardian, a secular publication, but even here it is interesting that David Smith ends his article speaking of a "dark nativism". The United States has been a world leader, the one country which has provided some basis for world order since World War II. Republican George W. Bush completely destroyed that order, and the reputation of this country, by starting the Iraq War in 2003. That inflamed the Middle East and its own tensions. The American people, rightly alarmed about sending so many troops and so much treasure overseas, then later elect another Republican who is talking about a warrior god justifying bellicosity all over the world, a man who has reason to try to prove he is an acceptable person after demonstrating he is actually a serial sexual pervert. In this article, as indicated there, "The president pledged support for NATO and issued a warning to Russia – then echoed Steve Bannon in warning of government’s ‘steady creep’."
Donald Trump used the word “civilization” 10 times in his first speech in central Europe. The man who brought us “America first” has expanded his vision, to a clash of civilizations.
And at a time of anxiety over America’s role in the world, the message was clear: the US is still the leader of western civilization, whether western civilization wants it or not.
The crowd gathered in Warsaw – many arriving on free buses laid on by Poland’s conservative ruling party – seemed happy enough at this prospect. They chanted “Donald Trump! Donald Trump!”, echoing one of his barnstorming rallies in the homeland. From Britain, the former UK Independence party leader Nigel Farage quoted the speech approvingly on Twitter.
But Trump sceptics across Europe are unlikely to have been impressed by a speech of two halves: a reassuring pledge of support for Nato and dig at Russia mixed with coded – and sometimes not so coded – warnings that the barbarians are at the gate.
“Americans, Poles, and the nations of Europe value individual freedom and sovereignty,” said Trump, wearing his customary red tie. “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.
“If left unchecked, these forces will undermine our courage, sap our spirit and weaken our will to defend ourselves and our societies.”
It was not hard to detect the voice of the White House chief strategist, Steve Bannon, the nationalist-nihilist who once promised that the Trump era would be “as exciting as the 1930s” and is a student of The Fourth Turning, a book that argues history moves in cycles and America is on the brink of its latest violent cataclysm. Nor was it hard to see the hand of Trump’s speechwriter Stephen Miller, principal author of Trump’s inaugural address in January, in which the word “America” appeared even more frequently than “civilization” did this time, most notoriously as “American carnage”.
Speaking at Krasinski Square – which memorialises the Warsaw uprising against Nazi occupation – Trump tried to conflate Poland’s second world war history with the defence of western traditions.
“The people of Poland, the people of America, and the people of Europe still cry out ‘We want God’,” he said. In 1939, Trump recalled, Poland was invaded by Nazi Germany from the west and the Soviet Union from the east. “That’s trouble,” it occurred to him. “That’s tough.”
He made reference to the Katyn massacre, the Holocaust, the Warsaw ghetto and the murder of millions of Poland’s Jewish citizens. Then came four decades of communist rule. From there, Trump tried to make the leap to contemporary external threats including terrorism and extremism, propaganda, financial crimes and cyberwarfare. In a paragraph guaranteed to please Republican hawks at home, he offered rare criticism of Vladimir Putin, urging Russia to end its destabilising activities in Ukraine and elsewhere, and its support for hostile regimes including Syria and Iran.
But then came a bizarre pivot to Bannon’s stated goal: the deconstruction of the administrative state. “This danger is invisible to some but familiar to the Poles: the steady creep of government bureaucracy that drains the vitality and wealth of the people,” Trump said. “The west became great not because of paperwork and regulations but because people were allowed to chase their dreams and pursue their destinies.” It would have been hard to imagine Ronald Reagan declaring: “Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall of bureaucracy!”
Trump changed gear to more traditional ground for US presidents in Europe. He praised the “community of nations” and said the bond between the US and Europe was maybe “even stronger” than ever. Despite his own war on the media, he heralded “the right to free speech and free expression”. He spoke of empowering women and valuing the dignity of every human life. And finally he threw his weight firmly and explicitly behind Nato’s article five, the mutual defence commitment.
Nevertheless, this was a speech about reassuring doubters around the world that America is still flying the plane, even if the passengers would prefer Barack Obama to be the pilot. The implication that cultural essentialism and national purity face existential threats hovered ominously throughout.
In what the pro-Trump Fox News called “a staunch defence of western values during a rousing speech”, the president insisted: “The fundamental question of our time is whether the west has the will to survive.
“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?” A few minutes later, he answered his own questions: “Just as Poland could not be broken, I declare today for the world to hear that the west will never, ever be broken. Our values will prevail. Our people will thrive. And our civilization will triumph.”
Trump was following in a long line of American presidents who made historic addresses in Europe, including John F Kennedy (“Ich bin ein Berliner”) and Reagan. But his attempt to set out a Trump doctrine will be remembered not for a quotable zinger but for muddled thinking and dark nativism.
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