The Corner

National Security & Defense

‘In all of this, her proud and resourceful people left an indelible mark on Western civilization’

Behold LBJ’s dark, alt-right, white-nationalist speech about Poland and its role in Western civilization, delivered in 1966 on the occasion of the millennium of Christianity in that country:

Life has never been easy for the people of Poland. Time and again she has endured the unwelcome intrusion of her larger and her more powerful neighbors.

Time and again she has endured suffering and sacrifice, only to recover and to rebuild.

In all of this, her proud and resourceful people left an indelible mark on Western civilization.

We, in America, owe a very special debt to Poland. For almost two centuries ago her sons joined our own Revolution and Polish patriots fought under the American flag.

Nor can we forget the millions of Polish immigrants whose personal faith and whose tenacious labor helped to tame this continent. Our national heritage is rich with the gifts of Polish people.

Our debt and our long ties with the people of Poland give us a very special interest in their problems and in their future.

Twice in this century Poland has been devastated by war, yet her people have remained loyal to the ancient faith and to the human values that it represents. Even as we meet here today, they are meeting by the hundreds of thousands at the historic monastery of Jasna Gora. Led by a great Polish cardinal, they are offering prayers of hope and thanksgiving which reflect their enduring belief in God and in their national destiny.

In Poland, and in other countries in Eastern Europe, new ideas are winning friends. Windows are opening to the world–only slightly in many places, but they are opening.

And despite the severe limitations on its national freedom, limitations that prevent many Polish-Americans from celebrating this day on Polish soil, the ancient spirit of Poland is not dead. Her people still yearn for a lively future in Europe and among the community of nations.

You really should read the whole thing. Absent the Cold War context and some policy differences related to it, it easily could have been delivered by President Trump in Warsaw this week — and gotten exactly the same unhinged attacks from the Left.

Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: 

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