Let’s accept for the sake of argument the president’s contention that there were “fine people” on both sides in Charlottesville (though where you’d find such a person in a torchlight parade chanting about Jews isn’t clear). These hypothetical fine people on the “Unite the Right” side still would not be conservatives, or even American patriots, because they’ve given up on America. They, like the left, reject the existence of an American people and equality of all before the law, and instead embrace identity politics and the ideology of government-enforced multiculturalism.
There’s no mystery why the mainstream left hasn’t denounced the antifas and communists the way the mainstream right has the Nazis and Klansmen. The mainstream left and the antifas share an antipathy for American nationalism and agree on the goal of deconstructing the American people – it’s just that the antifas are willing to do the wet work that New York Times editorial writers are unsuited for.
On the other side, though, there is a basic ideological split, completely apart from any propensity for violence or delusions of supremacy. The Charlottesville crowd agrees with the left that there is no American people, only multiple, distinct peoples inhabiting the same space, whose interaction must be refereed by the state. In other words, they’re multiculturalists who merely want whites to grab their share of the spoils.
American patriots, on the other hand, embrace Justice Harlan’s dissent from Plessy v. Ferguson:
Our Constitution is color-blind and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law. The humblest is the peer of the most powerful. The law regards man as man and takes no account of his surroundings or of his color when his civil rights as guaranteed by the supreme law of the land are involved.
No one on the left still believes this, and the Charlottesville knuckleheads have joined them. Both reject Martin Luther King’s dream “deeply rooted in the American dream” and instead embrace Malcolm X’s approach: “We are African, and we happened to be in America. We’re not American.”
The proper response to this is not Romney’s and Rubio’s desperate pleas to be eaten last, but a forthright assertion that race and ethnicity have no place in American law. No quotas or set-asides. No Census Bureau tabulation of race or ethnicity. No ethnic or religious preferences in immigration law. We need a high wall of separation between ethnicity and state. There’s even a catchy phrase we can use: E Pluribus Unum.