If 2016 is the year when our political parties failed, inflicting on America arguably its worst presidential choice in our nation’s history, then 2017 is when our broader institutions began to lose their collective minds. This is the year when reasonable men surrendered to unreason — when political tribalism trumped human decency.
The primary tragedy of Charlottesville was the loss of a young woman’s life. The secondary tragedy was the distortion of our political culture. The president of the United States actually declared some portion of a collection of neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and alt-right white nationalists to be “very fine people.” He just couldn’t bring himself to completely disavow men and women who’d supported him since the day he descended down the escalator at Trump Tower.
Yet rather than doing the easiest and most sensible thing in the world — condemning white supremacy while also condemning political violence on the far left — some portion of the left-wing intelligentsia actually decided to embrace their own thugs. They supported Antifa. They decided to lionize some of the worst people in American life. And in so doing, they actually compared them to the American heroes who stormed Omaha Beach. The tweets below, as the saying goes, did not age well.
First, here’s Jeffrey Goldberg, the editor-in-chief of The Atlantic, one of the best and most respected political journals in American life:
This isn’t #resistance, it’s lawlessness. It’s not anti-fascism, it’s violent repression. Is the rule now that any gathering of Trump supporters — alt-right or not — in any blue enclave risks a violent response? Have authorities, through a combination of cowardice and political correctness, ceded control of the streets in key American towns to a Marxist/anarchist mob?
Antifa and its elite apologists are sending a clear message of hate and loathing to millions of Americans who don’t have a fascist bone in their bodies — to the millions of good people who voted for Donald Trump. Antifa doesn’t occupy the moral high ground. Its apologists have no grounds to sneer at anyone. Instead, they’re competing with the alt-right for control of the political sewer.
Condemn Antifa now. Prosecute its members now. Or watch America continue to tear itself apart. Violent Marxists are evil. Violent fascists are evil. If we can’t understand both of those basic truths simultaneously, then we have truly lost our way.
— David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and an attorney.