Peter Beinart’s Tuesday article in The Atlantic, which deemed Trump’s Warsaw speech a nod to his “white nationalist” base, was an inevitable, almost gravitational spasm from the identity wing of the Democrat party. Criticism of Beinart’s contorted logic poured in, and on Tuesday morning, he responded to his critics by redoubling on claims “racial” undertones in the President’s defense of the West.
In his first article, Beinart opined with telepathic certainty that Trump’s speech, though on its face an impassioned defense of liberty, was really a call for religious chauvinism and racially infused jingoism using Morse code that only the country’s bigots could understand. Trump is mean, after all, so there’s no way he couldn’t have had the nefarious motives ascribed by Beinart and others.
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Beinart spent much of the piece arguing directly with one critic in particular, Daniel Foster, a National Review contributor whose rebuttal appeared in The Atlantic on Monday. He pushed back specifically on the contextualization Foster gave to the geographic and racial counterexamples that Beinart felt undergirded his initial argument that the West was “a racial and religious term.”
He then went on to reframe his argument entirely: not only was Trump’s usage of the “Western civilization” rhetoric racist, but the entire concept of “Western civilization” was one steeped in discrimination, because “[i]f ‘Western’ is synonymous with ‘democratic’ or ‘free,’ then you don’t need the term at all.”
Beinart’s ultimate claim is that “Western” nomenclature is not really synonymous with “democracy, freedom, tolerance, and equality.” What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, so let’s apply Mr. Beinart’s own logic, that the ideological persuasions of a messenger can soil the message, back onto his assertions.
When leftists, be they Peter Beinart, Bernie Sanders, or Elizabeth Warren, say “democracy”, what do they mean? Often, they mean the abolition of federalism and the Electoral College in favor of centralization and a tyrannical majority. Their references to “freedom” only extend to the bedroom and the ability to kill unborn children, not to the religious convictions of private bakers and florists, trying to exercise their constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedom of association. “Tolerance,” as you’d learn on any college campus, is a cheap conduit for postmodernism, where nothing is true and all cultures are equal- things like female genital mutilation quickly get dismissed as cultural differences to which bigoted Westerners ought to give deference. Leftist pleas for “equality” more often resemble Marxist calls for a redistributionist utopia than a legitimate concern for de jure egalitarianism.
Maybe, then, if we apply Beinart’s sloppy logic to his own argument, Trump’s brazen speech in defense of the West wasn’t a denial of “democracy, freedom, tolerance and equality” but rather their affirmation, lacking the same cultural relativism Beinart would likely prefer. The West is open to anyone of any creed willing to take on its yoke of liberty, private property rights, and the great American refrain: e pluribus unum.
Check out our first post on Beinart’s claim of Trump’s racist dog-whistling here.