It’s easy to mock Donald Trump, because almost everything he says and does is worthy of nothing but mockery. But just because it’s easy doesn’t mean you ought to stop doing it. Yesterday Trump attempted to re-cast himself as a 21st century incarnation of Ronald Reagan, in a paranoid and utterly reactionary speech that reached deep into the dark and tragic history of Poland as a metaphor for our dark and dysfunctional present.
Only a few days ago attacked Trump attacked MSNBC co-host Mika Brzezinski by informing the world that he had turned her away from his Mar-a-Lago freakshow paradise because ‘ she was bleeding badly from a face-lift.’ Brzezinski is the daughter of Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter’s former secretary of state, who died in May, and whose Polish roots shaped his own evolution into the hawkish Cold War warrior who set the Afghan ‘Bear Trap’ to ensnare the Soviets back in 1979 by funding the Afghan jihad.
Yesterday Trump’s speechwriter filled his mouth with sonorous words words like ‘soul’, ‘ bled’, ‘spirit’, ‘heroism’, ‘freedom’, and above all ‘civilisation’, that were clearly designed to make the hearts of Polish nationalists beat faster. The Emperor of Mar-a-Lago even had the nerve to invite veterans of the Warsaw Uprising to join him on stage, as he told his audience that Poland’s national survival was not just due to the Polish spirit, but also to God, and that this ‘message’ is equally appropriate today since ‘ The people of Poland, the people of America, and the people of Europe still cry out “We want God”.’
Why do we want God? Because communism has been ‘vanquished by another oppressive ideology — one that seeks to export terrorism and extremism all around the globe.’ We have heard this before, but now we have a president who God favours as much as He once favoured Poland, since:
‘During a historic gathering in Saudi Arabia, I called on the leaders of more than 50 Muslim nations to join together to drive out this menace which threatens all of humanity. We must stand united against these shared enemies to strip them of their territory and their funding, and their networks, and any form of ideological support that they may have.’
This is the same Saudi Arabia that produced most of the 9/11 attackers, that is currently bombing Yemen to starvation, that is intent on promoting and unleashing all-out sectarian war across the Middle East and beyond, and which has just bought $100 billion worth of weapons from Trump’s son-in-law for this purpose.
Such allies are nevertheless essential when faced with really bad states like Russia, who Trump urged ‘ to cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere, and its support for hostile regimes — including Syria and Iran — and to instead join the community of responsible nations in our fight against common enemies and in defense of civilization itself.’
Having referenced the Russian Bear to rouse Polish hearts, Trump drew another lesson from Polish history, warning of another threat to civilisation that ‘is invisible but familiar to the Poles: the steady creep of government bureaucracy that drains the vitality and wealth of the people. The West became great not because of paperwork and regulations but because people were allowed to chase their dreams and pursue their destinies.’
So that was why Jews rose up in the Warsaw Ghetto. That was why the Polish Home Army rose up against the Nazis, why Solidarity went on strike at Gdansk – it was all part of the endless struggle against the ‘paperwork and regulations’ that impede the one percent and Donald Trump’s pursuit of limitless wealth. In the magic world of Mar-a-Lago land however, Islamic State, paperwork, Iran and Russia are all part of the same Godless anti-civilisational 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.‘
What makes us what we are, according to Trump?
‘We write symphonies. We pursue innovation. We celebrate our ancient heroes, embrace our timeless traditions and customs, and always seek to explore and discover brand-new frontiers. We reward brilliance. We strive for excellence, and cherish inspiring works of art that honor God. We treasure the rule of law and protect the right to free speech and free expression.’
It’s striking how, like Anders Breivik and so many white nationalists, classical music becomes some kind of exemplar of ‘Western’ civilisation against the barbarian hordes, even for those who never listen to it. Can you imagine Trump, lying on a gilded sofa listening to Mahler as he meditates on our ‘timeless traditions and customs’?
Me neither. If Trump’s reference to those ‘brand-new frontiers’ means that imperial conquest and domination, genocide, slavery, and forced depopulation are hallmarks of the outward march of Western civilisation, then he is right, but it shouldn’t be something to boast about. Trump is the living proof that ‘we’ do not always reward brilliance, and that even the trashiest manifestations of inherited wealth can rise to the top in a dysfunctional political system warped by power and money. As for those ‘inspiring works of art that honor God’, has this bleached loon turned into Philip II of Spain now?
And then there is this priceless gem:
‘ We empower women as pillars of our society and of our success. We put faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, at the center of our lives. And we debate everything. We challenge everything. We seek to know everything so that we can better know ourselves.’
I’m sorry. But we’re talking about a man who once called his own daughter ‘ a piece of ass’ and who once said of an object of his affections ‘I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phoney tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look.’
Yesterday that man told Poland and the world: ‘ 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?’
There are other ‘fundamental questions’ that are not raised here, such as the threat of climate change to our common survival as a species, let alone as a civilisation – a threat that Trump has intensified through his fanatical and ignorant opposition to even the most tentative attempts to mitigate it. Others may argue that Trump himself is the symptom of a political disease that threatens our collective freedom and the future of democracy.
And take note of that promise to defend ‘our’ values ‘at any cost’ – words that could not be more chilling coming from this vainglorious, arrogant dolt, especially given the mayhem that has already been unleashed by his supposedly more sophisticated predecessors in defense of those values. In equating ‘respect for our citizens’ with the desire to ‘protect our borders’, Trump was aligning his ‘Muslim ban’ with Poland’s refusal to allow Muslim refugees into the country – both of which breach the international responsibility to protect refugees that until recently was considered a hallmark of civilisational advancement.
In a final tilt to the Law and Justice Party, Trump warned that ‘ We can have the largest economies and the most lethal weapons anywhere on Earth, but if we do not have strong families and strong values, then we will be weak and we will not survive. So, together, let us all fight like the Poles — for family, for freedom, for country, and for God.’
So Poland has become the world, and the world has become Poland, and this reactionary, manipulative and warmongering call to arms is further evidence that the Emperor of Mar-a-Lago land deserves our collective contempt as much as he ever did.