Texas Governor Rick Perry is delivering speeches in Europe this week. As Jennifer Rubin writes in the Washington Post, Perry is laying the groundwork for his presidential campaign. He is trying to show that he has the “gravitas” that the nation should seek in a president.
One is obliged to note that several of the leading Republican contenders, supposedly those who traffic in big ideas, lack said gravitas.
Rubin believes, as I do, that Perry’s speech points in exactly the right direction. It deviates significantly from the policies and approach articulated by our two most recent presidents.
Most especially, Rubin reports, Perry is not afraid to assert the importance of our values. He finds no moral equivalence between Islamist and Western values and refuses to placate those who want to destroy Judeo-Christian civilization.
In Rubin’s words:
Deriding the notion that “the Middle East is ultimately no concern of ours” and denouncing moral equivalency (“this confusion can weaken the confidence we need in our own values – the values of Western Civilization”), he [Perry] reminds his audience of what unapologetic moral clarity sounds like: “Their twisted version of Islam amounts to a creed of human cruelty – pure sadism, and nothing more. It matters that we understand all of this, for one reason especially: Without confidence in the truth and goodness of our own values the great moral inheritance of our own culture how are we going to deal with the falsehood of theirs?”
Also, Perry takes a strong stand against the rising tide of European anti-Semitism. As Rubin comments, our current president has been conspicuously silent on the subject.
Perry will say this:
The hatreds of unassimilated radicals only draw further attention to anti-Semitism in general. It’s a familiar problem in a new time. In Europe it ranges as in times past from thuggish abuse to desecration to commentaries on Israel that cover crude dislike in the veneer of respectable opinion. There is a way to deal with anti-Semitism, and it’s not by smiling politely and hoping that it goes away. The full force of law, when people and property are harmed, is only the most obvious response. Just as important is what Chancellor Merkel did a few weeks ago, to her great credit, when she called this sin by its name. She has stated in confident, unmistakable terms that tolerance ends where anti-Semitism begins. It shaped Europe’s past, in ways that everyone regrets and no nation can afford to let it shape Europe’s future.
And, in a vigorous denunciation of those who exploit our tolerance to force us to accept their intolerance, Perry will explain:
But to every extremist, it has to be made clear: We will not allow you to exploit our tolerance, so that you can import your intolerance. We will not let you destroy our peace with your violent ideas. If you expect to live among us and yet plan against us to receive the protections and comforts of a free society while showing none of its virtues or graces then you can have our answer now: No, not on our watch! You will live by exactly the standards that the rest of us live by. And if that comes as jarring news then welcome to civilization.
At a time when the American president believes he must be even-handed, at a time when his even-handedness seems mostly to require him to criticize Israel—especially for defending itself against attacks-- and at a time when European countries like Sweden and Great Britain have rewarded Palestinian belligerence and intransigence by recognizing Palestine as a legitimate nation, the words of Rick Perry ring out loud and clear.
Surely, the words of an American president and even an aspiring American president exert an influence. How much we do not know.
But, it is certainly possible that the election of Barack Obama has helped make anti-Semitism more respectable in Europe. Such would not be the case under a President Perry.
In Rubin’s words:
The speech leaves no doubt Perry is serious about national security, able to express critical ideals and to lay out a compelling message, as well as demonstrating he is capable of putting together a presidential campaign-level team to advise and prepare him for an ambitious trip of this kind. Other presidential candidates should take note: This is what a governor intent on convincing the voters of his national security chops does. And for those in the Senate trying to bob and weave on matters of war and peace: You may look craven and erratic in comparison to Perry.