I was, perhaps ironically, at a concealed-carry class when news of what happened in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday started filtering out. (For those who don’t think it’s a dangerous world, that and Saturday night’s triple homicide at Great Lakes Dragaway in Union Grove should disprove your mistaken belief.)
Facebook Friend Rick Esenberg had the two best thoughts I’ve seen on what happened:
I should think that the universal reaction to [Saturday’s] events ought be condemnation. It gets harder when we begin to muse about some larger meaning. My own sense is that we ought to think carefully about where identity politics takes us. I consider myself to be on the political “right” — at least as I understood that term prior to last year. To me, being on the right meant absolute equality before the law, individual freedom and limited government. It meant encouraging a robust civil society and a commitment to what I am not afraid to call Western values. It meant rejection of both the licentious and authoritarian tendencies of the “intersectional” left and the blood and soil nationalism and authoritarianism of the rightest parties of Europe. I don’t think Donald Trump is a champion of the “alt-right.” In fact, I don’t think that he represents anything in particular — he seems to have no firm convictions about anything – but is a product of disparate and conflicting forces. One of them, however, is a very different view of the American right – a view that is every bit as post-constitutional, illiberal and authoritarian as that which has come to characterize much of the American left. It is very much a product of the notion that we need a Saul Alinsky of the “right.” But the risk is that in trying to save our values — individualism, freedom, subsidiarity and a common morality that we root in the Judeo-Christian tradition, we wind up destroying them. I don’t think that Donald Trump has much — if anything — to do with what happened today in Virginia. What bothers me is that he does not understand what to do about it. …
I do not believe that Trump “empowered” the idiots in Virginia. But here’s what’s wrong with his statement in response. To be sure, the racist white nationalist march was constitutionally protected speech. For those who do not understand why that is so, I’d be happy to explain. But that does not mean that it is within the bounds of respectable political discourse. Its a marginal movement that gets more attention that it’s numbers warrant. But it’s no less vile for that. Referring to it as part of “all sides” of our political community confers a certain respectability that it does not deserve. Doing so also reflects a certain studied tone deafness on his part. I am not prepared to call Trump a racist or a tool of the Russians. But, knowing that many people feel that he is both, he has still has this bad habit of behaving in ways that feed their beliefs. An obstreperous guy writing on FB can do that, but a President should not.
Facebook Friend Ken Gardner adds:
Fundamentally, the neo-Nazis who marched in Virginia over the weekend, the Bernie nut who tried to assassinate GOP Congressmen, the Berkeley riots, and the rest of them — on all sides of the political spectrum — are all the same people. They are all wannabe authoritarians and collectivists who are filled with hate for anyone who does not belong to their favored groups. They hate disagreement and crave both attention and obedience backed up by violence and threats of violence.
Here is what I learned about America over the weekend. After 6 months of organization and promotion, the “largest white supremacist gathering in decades” drew only several hundred sick puppies from around the country on Saturday. Several hundred. And on Sunday, 52 million Americans went to church – where everyone is welcomed and we all drink from the same cup. 62 million Americans volunteer in any given year, and 83% of American adults give to charity. And 145 million Americans went to work today – where people of every race, gender, ethnicity, religious belief, orientation, and ability get along just fine. America is not those few hundreds who hate; it is those tens of millions who don’t. Let’s keep our perspective.