President Trump hailed Poland as a great success of western civilization, on Friday, holding up the eastern European ally as a model of how a commitment to faith and freedom can overcome great challenges and oppression.
In the speech, Trump urged other western nations to follow in Poland’s footsteps and embrace the heritage that made the West great.
“Through four decades of communist rule, Poland and the other captive nations of Europe endured a brutal campaign to demolish freedom, your faith, your laws, your history, your identity — indeed the very essence of your culture and your humanity. Yet, through it all, you never lost that spirit. Your oppressors tried to break you, but Poland could not be broken,” said Trump.
Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation Chairman Lee Edwards says steering the West back to a position of championing its values was hugely important.
“The United States are Poland are coming together and sending a very clear signal to the rest of Europe. ‘Let’s remember where we came from, what has made us great and powerful, making the West an invaluable part of history over the last 1,000 years. Let’s not cast that all aside and get caught up in bureaucracy,'” said Edwards, who is also a scholar in conservative thought at the Heritage Foundation.
He says Poland’s remarkable resilience against the scourges of fascism and communism – among many other challenges over the centuries – is a testament to it’s fidelity to western values.
“Poland proves it is possible to be a people of faith and a people of independence and to do well economically,” said Edwards.
Trump noted that western civilization is under siege from within and without, starting with radical Islam.
We are confronted by another oppressive ideology — one that seeks to export terrorism and extremism all around the globe. America and Europe have suffered one terror attack after another. We’re going to get it to stop,” said Trump. “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.”
Edwards says it’s an ideological battle the Polish people know well.
“Just as we were able to defeat communism, so too can we defeat radical Islam if we come together, if we pull together, if we work together, if we are united by a common faith and a common commitment to democracy and to liberal ideas – to those basic ideas of free speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of religion,” said Edwards.
Trump also noted the crushing growth of government.
“[O]n both sides of the Atlantic, our citizens are confronted by yet another danger — one firmly within our control. 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. The West became great not because of paperwork and regulations but because people were allowed to chase their dreams and pursue their destinies,” said Trump.
And he extolled the value of faith and family in the rise of the West and as a vital key to its future.
“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,” said Trump.
Edwards says the message was perfectly clear and critical for Europe to hear at a time when cultures are changing and faith plays a smaller and smaller role in society.
“What Mr. Trump was trying to do was say, ‘Look, let’s go back to the tried and to the true, to those values which did bring us together, did unite us, made us a strong continent and a strong West,” said Edwards.