Sunday, July 09, 2017

Dumbed down

Trump's speech in Poland did not get rave reviews from anyone other than his fellow culture warriors, who have developed a paranoia about the end of the West at the hands of Islamic extremism.

It was, patently, not a good speech and (at least in transcript) was delivered poorly, with several Trumpian moments where he made it all about him, again.  As for its key paragraph, Peter Beinart covers it well:
The most shocking sentence in Trump’s speech—perhaps the most shocking sentence in any presidential speech delivered on foreign soil in my lifetime—was his claim that “The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive.” On its face, that’s absurd. Jihadist terrorists can kill people in the West, but unlike Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union, they cannot topple even the weakest European government. Jihadists control no great armies. Their ideologies have limited appeal even among the Muslims they target with their propaganda. ISIS has all but lost Mosul and could lose Raqqa later this year.

Trump’s sentence only makes sense as a statement of racial and religious paranoia. The “south” and “east” only threaten the West’s “survival” if you see non-white, non-Christian immigrants as invaders. They only threaten the West’s “survival” if by “West” you mean white, Christian hegemony. A direct line connects Trump’s assault on Barack Obama’s citizenship to his speech in Poland. In Trump and Bannon’s view, America is at its core Western: meaning white and Christian (or at least Judeo-Christian). The implication is that anyone in the United States who is not white and Christian may not truly be American but rather than an imposter and a threat.

Poland is largely ethnically homogeneous. So when a Polish president says that being Western is the essence of the nation’s identity, he’s mostly defining Poland in opposition to the nations to its east and south. America is racially, ethnically, and religious diverse. So when Trump says being Western is the essence of America’s identity, he’s in part defining America in opposition to some of its own people. He’s not speaking as the president of the entire United States. He’s speaking as the head of a tribe.
 Exactly.  Hence it was only members of his own, dumbed down, "tribe" who thought this was a monumental speech.

That Chris Kenny and Andrew Bolt could think this was a great speech just shows what inept and completely unreliable commentators they've become.  I actually find it hard to credit how they could even get so stupid.   I honestly did not previously think culture warrior-ing to be so capable of blinding and dumbing down people's judgement. 

As for Trump's performance at the G20, I have to give credit to Chris Uhlmann, who I don't trust generally for being too soft on the Coalition and unreliable on climate change.  His assessment of Trump, though, rang very true, for the most part.  (I only disagree when he said that there were "interesting" observations in the Poland speech about defending the values of the West.)  But this part, yes: is the unscripted Mr Trump that is real. A man who barks out bile in 140 characters, who wastes his precious days as President at war with the West's institutions — like the judiciary, independent government agencies and the free press.

He was an uneasy, awkward figure at this gathering and you got the strong sense some other leaders were trying to find the best way to work around him.

Mr Trump is a man who craves power because it burnishes his celebrity. To be constantly talking and talked about is all that really matters. And there is no value placed on the meaning of words. So what is said one day can be discarded the next.

So, what did we learn this week?

We learned Mr Trump has pressed fast forward on the decline of the US as a global leader. He managed to diminish his nation and to confuse and alienate his allies.

He will cede that power to China and Russia — two authoritarian states that will forge a very different set of rules for the 21st century.

Some will cheer the decline of America, but I think we'll miss it when it is gone.
And that is the biggest threat to the values of the West which he claims to hold so dear.

1 comment:

not trampis said...

Chris Uhlmann called it right.

mind you it was an easy call and very easy to forecast