Sunday, July 9, 2017

Trump's Warsaw Speech and Why It Matters

I love to analyze speeches (I guess I did learn something in college), so I thought I’d do a small one for President Trump’s defining speech in Warsaw last week. The first one I did was for Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to a joint session of congress a few years ago. You know, the one Obama didn’t want or didn’t care about hearing?

It is mostly me fleshing out my thoughts on his remarks, but writing them out helps me to think and consider the concepts more in-depth.

On June 6th, President Trump gave a stirring speech to international leaders and a massive crowd gathered in the city of Warsaw, Poland. Most significantly, the speech was delivered in front of the Monument to the Heroes of the Warsaw Uprising, a magnificent statue that looms over Krasinski Square.

President Trump paid tribute to the people it represents, stating “It is a profound honor to stand in this city, by this monument to the Warsaw Uprising, and to address the Polish nation that so many generations have dreamed of: a Poland that is safe, strong, and free.”

On August 1, 1944, the people of Warsaw began an uprising that would eventually end in the eradication of the German army, although the struggle ultimately led to Stalin’s Red Army taking its place, locking the Polish people in the grip of communism.

The memorial was unveiled in 1989, the year after I was born, showing that the Polish people had survived the dark years of Nazi and communist control.

In the years leading up the Warsaw Uprising, the people created their own Home Army to fight the Nazis. Men, women, and children were involved in underground subversion of the regime, and frequently carried out deadly bombings and assaults against the German Army. Many Poles died during this time or were sent to prison. Warsaw endured unimaginable cruelty at the hands of the Nazis and communists, thus the statue is a testament to their determination and will to survive.

It is a testament to the human spirit that cries “Freedom!”

The awe-inspiring statue depicts figures emerging from pillars that seem to be falling on top of them. Their bodies are frozen in a forward motion, signifying their will to keep moving forward in defense of their beloved Warsaw.

Over 150,000 Poles died during the uprising.

President Trump referred to those “dark days” and applauded the people of Poland for never losing their pride, even in the face of difficulty.

“So it is with true admiration that I can say today, that from the farms and villages of your countryside to the cathedrals and squares of your great cities, Poland lives, Poland prospers, and Poland prevails,” the President said.

One cannot help but wonder if the President was referring to America when he said the Poles “know the true value” of what they defend. I ask myself when reading his words: “Do I know the true value of what I defend? Do I make it a priority to know? Do I encourage others to do the same?”

Watching the speech as it was delivered and seeing our President standing beneath the powerful figures of people who fought for their very existence is challenging to me as an American. I have never had to fight for what I believe in or for my country. I have with words in small ways, but my life has never been threatened as the people of Warsaw were threatened by Hitler and his Nazi regime during World War II.

Communism is only something I’ve read about in books. I don’t know what it feels like to be hungry, or the pain of not being allowed to worship in the way I choose.

To not be able to bow to my God when a humanist leader is in power.

With radical Islamic extremists taking center stage in the headlines today, President Trump challenged Americans by applauding the Polish people for summoning “the courage and the will to defend our civilization.”

I am afraid that our young people don’t know what it means to defend one’s civilization. There are days when I am terrified that they may not even care. We never talk about it. And when someone does bring it up, they either become flustered and leave the room, or change the subject completely.

Where is the steely backbone of Americans who conquered the West? Who stormed the beaches at Normandy?

Where is our heart?

The Poles applauded our President raucously, chanting “Donald Trump! Donald Trump!” again and again.

It seems our President and our way of life are treated better outside of our own borders.

As history records and the President’s speech recalls, Poland has suffered unimaginable evils for centuries, the Holocaust during WWII when the Jewish population was almost completely wiped out due to the horrific concentration camps, and most recently their struggle under communism.

When Nazi occupation ended and the Polish people were at their weakest, the Soviet Union swooped in like a black bird with sharp talons. They endured forty years of their ways being demolished, their people disrespected, and their God exiled.

Will this happen to the American people? It seems that we are on a path of destruction, allowing anything and everything to enter our gates. Morality and the standard of right and wrong have been reduced to “Do whatever makes you happy,” only because those who say it are so disengaged and could care less about what happens to us. We’ve been taught to live in the here and now for far too long.

We’ve cried “Tolerance!” for so long, that we fail to see the effects of tolerance. Our people oppress themselves because of what they allow into their homes and their minds. They no longer know how to choose right from wrong because who is to say which is which?

Absolutes have become nonsense. Laws are irrelevant.

God is no longer in charge because we refuse to look at the past to learn from our mistakes. I fear that Christians have given in to these forms of relativism, that we are so cloistered in our churches that we no longer engage the culture in order to change it for the better.

”We are fighting hard against radical Islamic terrorism, and we will prevail. We cannot accept those who reject our values and who use hatred to justify violence against the innocent,” the President stated.

Linda Sarsour, a Muslim organizer of the Women’s March said this week that Muslims should not assimilate to American culture and that not doing so is pleasing to their god. I find it more than disturbing that during the women’s march, women aligned themselves with the women’s march and people like Sarsour. She believes in everything that America is not. How could they be so blind, and, I hesitate to say, stupid?

The President strongly stated “Our own fight for the West does not begin on the battlefield – it begins with our minds, our wills, and our souls.”

Philosophically, our President could not have been more right. The struggle might be somewhat invisible, but it is there. We can run and hide, we can refuse to talk about it, but the shadows of what is coming are there. Our people must not be afraid to converse and engage each other in how we are to combat these evils.

Americans are too sensitive when it comes to debate. We should thrive on healthy conversations over the dinner table, not throw insults and negative statements at each other when someone gives an opinion we don’t like.

Political pundits and commentators either said the President’s speech was defining or trash. I saw it as prophetic and timely. No matter what anyone says, I believe first and foremost what the Bible says about life, death, Jesus, sin, and the impending and ongoing decay of the human race. I read a lot of philosophy, religion, and cultural commentary to better understand the times and how I fit in the generation I was born. There are people who don’t like what I say, and sometimes I am wrong. But I try so, so hard to be informed and intellectually aware so that I can see things from a perspective most never consider.

The speech was magnificent, and it offers many points for us to consider as a people. For it was not only the Poles to which President Trump was speaking, but to America and the world.

”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.”

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