From New York Times’ columnist Roger Cohen’s reaction to the State of the Union speech:
Trump spoke of American grit, of “total American resolve,” of American heart and American hands, whipping his audience into chants of “USA! USA! USA!” Trump’s America is, in the end, a reflection of himself: male, militaristic, white, mean and macho.
… but his core message was nationalistic, nativist, harsh and defiant.
This was “Volk und Vaterland” in American guise …
And if there’s a border, we build a wall. And if there’s a chance to display bigotry, we seize it.
Russia was the 800-pound gorilla in the room. Trump barely mentioned it, even as the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election gathers pace. …
As for immigrants, the president had not a kind word. You would not guess from Trump’s words that a Cato Institute study of refugees admitted to the United States between 1975 and 2015 found that the chance of an American being killed in a terrorist attack committed by a refugee is 1 in 3.64 billion. … His so-called American Dream is made up of the nightmares he imagines and that now hang over the world.
… Republicans’ problem is that since George W. Bush left town they’ve become the East Germans of the 21st century. They have embraced a cultural model that produces low growth and low dynamism. No wonder they want to erect a wall.
Progressives say Republicans oppose immigration because of bigotry. But it’s not that simple. It’s more accurate to say restrictionists are stuck in a mono-cultural system that undermines their own values: industry, faithfulness and self-discipline. Of course they react with defensive animosity to the immigrants who out-hustle and out-build them. You’d react negatively, too, if confronted with people who are better versions of what you wish you were yourself.
If Americans are turning into East Germans, it might have something to do with what their elites want to do to them. As the Communist East German playwright Bertolt Brecht noted in 1953:
After the uprising of the 17th June
The Secretary of the Writers Union
Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
Stating that the people
Had forfeited the confidence of the government
And could win it back only
By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?
My less poetic response to David’s column is now up at Taki’s Magazine.