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Conservatives had mostly praise for President Trump’s speech to the U.N. on Tuesday. One of the more mixed critiques came from National Review’s Rich Lowry, who called the address “Jacksonian”:
In general, Trump defended the American-created and -defended world order, but he did it on his own terms. He emphasized the importance of sovereign nation-states and said we should accept their different cultures and interests. This is fine as far as it goes. In his version of post-war history, however, Trump gives short shrift to how important a vision of liberal democracy was to the United States. And there was a tension between his avowal to accept the ways of other nation-states and his (appropriately) excoriating attacks on the political and economic systems of North Korea, Iran, Syria, and Venezuela. Indeed, George W. Bush could have spoken in exactly the same terms about those rogue regimes, if with more elevated rhetoric.
All things considered and given the alternatives, it was a fine speech. It wasn’t really an “America First” speech — it defended the world order and even had warm words for the Marshall Plan — but in its signature lines about North Korea, it was thematically a very Jacksonian speech. What exactly this means in terms of policy remains to be seen. But everyone is paying attention, if they weren’t before.
The Resurgent’s Erick Erickson called it the best speech of Trump’s presidency thus far. “With President Trump we are not going to get the soaring rhetoric of Barack Obama or the happy smile and sentiment of George W. Bush,” he wrote. “We are not going to get Reagan or Clinton. What we are going to get is a blunt instrument who understands he can occasionally use his bluntness to make real change.”
“Give Trump credit for bringing his authentic self to the United Nations, at the very least,” Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey wrote. “If his supporters worried about the supposed ‘globalists’ on his staff watering down Trump’s approach on foreign policy, the president dispelled all of those worries in his 40-minute address. He made it clear that US policy would take a sharp turn towards self-interest and put nations on notice over trade.”
The American Conservative’s Daniel Larison was critical:
U.S. foreign policy already suffers from far too much self-congratulation and excessive confidence in our own righteousness, so it was alarming to hear Trump speak in such stark, fanatical terms about international affairs. Paired with his confrontational rhetoric directed towards North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, and Syria, Trump’s choice to cast these states as the “wicked few” portends more aggressive and meddlesome policies and gives the leaders of all of these governments reason to assume the worst about our intentions. It was similar to Bush’s foolish “axis of evil” remarks in 2002.
In other news:
Conservatives were aghast at a survey of college students on speech just published by the Brookings Institution. “THE END OF AMERICA: Poll Shows 51% of College Students Say It's Fine to Shout Down ‘Offensive and Harmful’ Speakers” was the headline of a Daily Wire post by Ben Shapiro:
That poll shows that 19 percent of college students agree with the notion that using violence to silence a speaker who says “offensive and hurtful things” is appropriate; that includes 22 percent of Republicans. Furthermore, about four in ten Americans said that the First Amendment should not protect “hate speech” – leaving that term of art utterly undefined – and 51 percent backed the proposition that students should shout down offensive speakers.
This is terrifying. Young Americans clearly don’t understand the meaning or purpose of the First Amendment. They believe that their feelings justify interference with the political expression of others. And that opinion is being coddled by administrators who see fit to “protect” students from so-called “microaggressions” with “trigger warnings.” The safe space mentality utterly perverts American freedom.
Commentary’s Noah Rothman blamed the media and academics for fostering anti-speech attitudes and wrote that the survey furnished evidence that “America is lurching toward a civic crisis.” “Cosseted, well-compensated soft revolutionaries are busy penning hagiography to thugs who commit acts of terror in the name of ‘anti-fascism,’ ” he wrote. “Respectable left-wing journals like the Nation, Mother Jones, and the New Republic have found themselves in the rank agitation business.”
“If you want to see how these realities are playing out on an actual campus,” Hot Air’s Allahpundit wrote, “go read the new Middlebury interim policies for speakers, which explicitly contemplate canceling events if the threat of violence is so high that the safety of people attending the event can’t be guaranteed. The fact that an American university would need to plan for that contingency in the form of an official policy shows you how bad things have gotten."