Ten years ago, Warsaw hosted an international conference warning of a “demographic winter” that posed an existential threat to Europe as the rejection of the “natural family” was leading to plunging birthrates and the consequent importation of millions of workers from countries with historic colonial ties who spurn Western values and refuse to assimilate.
A decade of social upheaval and terrorist attacks, accelerated by the recent influx of Muslim migrants, has turned many mockers and skeptics of that concept into believers.
And now, in his speech Thursday to a rapturous crowd in Warsaw’s Krasinski Square, President Trump has raised the issue of the West’s survival, arguing it rests ultimately not on armies and economies but on “strong families and strong values.”
“The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive. Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost?” Trump asked.
“Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?”
Trump then emphasized: “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.”
He pointed to Poland as an example for the West, recalling earlier in his speech the 1979 Mass in then-communist Poland led by the Polish pope, John Paul II, in which the 1 million gathered chanted, “We Want God.”
“If anyone forgets the critical importance of these things, let them come to one country that never has,” Trump said. “Let them come to Poland.”
Hope for the world
In 2007, WND covered the fourth World Congress of Families in Warsaw, attended by 3,300 lawmakers and activists from 75 nations.
One of the speakers, Poland’s vice premier and minister of education, Roman Giertych, declared the family as “the hope for Poland, the hope for Europe, the hope for the entire world.”
“Without the family, there is no nation, there is no continent, there is no civilization, there is nothing,” he said.
Just eight months before the congress, Mark Steyn, in his book “America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It,” warned that amid the shrinking of the European family, one of the fastest demographic evolutions in history already was making traditional views of European culture outdated.
He predicted Europe “will be semi-Islamic in its politico-culture character within a generation.”
While it takes a fertility rate of at least 2.1 for a nation to replenish itself, countries known for big families, such as Greece and Spain, had fertility rates of 1.2 and 1.1 respectively at the time. The current rate in Greece may be as low as 1.1.
By 2050, Steyn wrote in September 2006, 60 percent of Italians, for example, will have no brothers, no sisters, cousins, no aunts, no uncles.
“The big Italian family, with papa pouring vino and mama spooning out the pasta down an endless table of grandparents and nieces and nephews, will be gone, no more, dead as the dinosaurs,” he wrote.
‘It begins with our minds, our wills, and our souls’
The planners of the World Congress of Families in 2007 said they were looking “beyond demographic winter,” promoting the “natural family” as the “springtime of Europe and the world.”
“Poland saved Europe before” by lifting the Turkish siege of Vienna in 1683 and helping to demolish the Soviet empire three centuries later and it is likely “she will save Europe again,” they said.
Closing his speech Thursday, Trump said “the fight for the West does not begin on the battlefield – it begins with our minds, our wills, and our souls.”
“Today, the ties that unite our civilization are no less vital, and demand no less defense, than that bare shred of land on which the hope of Poland once totally rested. Our freedom, our civilization, and our survival depend on these bonds of history, culture, and memory,” the president said.
“And today as ever, Poland is in our heart, and its people are in that fight.
“Just as Poland could not be broken, I declare today for the world to hear that the West will never, ever be broken. Our values will prevail. Our people will thrive. And our civilization will triumph.”