After yesterday’s press conference by Donald Trump, the RNC has gone into full damage-control mode. “There’s no ‘good’ KKK member, there’s no ‘nice’ neo-Nazi,” RNC chair Ronna Romney McDaniel told ABC’s David Muir on Good Morning America earlier today, rebutting Trump’s assertion of “fine people” being on both sides of the Charlottesville rally. While McDaniel also defended Trump’s statement on Monday as a firm denunciation of white-supremacist groups, McDaniel made it explicit with Muir, declaring that Republicans don’t want their vote and will speak out against them:
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel says there’s no place in her party for white supremacists and neo-Nazis following a weekend of deadly violence at a rally attended by hate groups in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“We don’t want your vote, we don’t support you, we’ll speak out against you,” McDaniel told ABC News’ David Muir in an interview on “Good Morning America” today. …
“The president was saying that people brought violence from both sides,” McDaniel said on “GMA” today. “And violence isn’t OK, but the blame lays squarely at the KKK, the white supremacists, the neo-Nazis who organized this rally, caused violence and are pushing hate across this country.”
When pressed on who gets the blame for the riot, McDaniel firmly applied it to the white supremacists. While some people may have shown up just to protest the removal of historic statues, “the second they saw Nazi flags, they should have turned tail. The second you join a group that has a Nazi flag,” McDaniel continued, “or is joining the KKK, there’s no good there. … This is un-American, what they’re doing.”
Mitch McConnell echoed McDaniel shortly afterward, as CNN reported that the Senate Majority Leader was displeased with Trump’s remarks:
— Meg Wagner (@megwagner) August 16, 2017
“We can have no tolerance for an ideology of racial hatred. There are no good neo-Nazis, and those who espouse their views are not supporters of American ideals and freedoms. We all have a responsibility to stand against hate and violence, wherever it raises its evil head,” the Senate GOP leader said on Wednesday.
He added that “we all have a responsibility to stand against hate and violence, wherever it raises its evil head.”
Indeed. I made a similar argument in my column for The Week:
Perhaps after 240 years, the staggering experiment of American independence is difficult to grasp. We were not the first democracy, nor were we the first republic, or even the first colony to rebel against its mother country. What set us apart was the complete break with the political model of our mother country and the adoption of voluntary compacts as the basis for our governance. America did not break with a constitutional monarchy to simply establish another; instead, we entered into a social compact in which people created the laws by which they would be governed, and that the law would apply equally to all.
Without a doubt, the founders implemented that system imperfectly and some states did cling to a race-based pseudo-feudal system. The U.S. fought a civil war over those failures, and further established equality under the law over the next century. When all people have equality under the law, then their own individual and innate gifts can find the freest expression. Feudal classes evaporate, and a merit-based economy and society can thrive — as it has in the United States, with its dominant economy and culture.
Any philosophy or political movement based on ethnicity or physical attributes runs entirely contrary to the American spirit. “Blood and soil” and its cousins not only ignore science, they ignore history and reality. The best path to unity and liberty remains what makes us exceptional — the pursuit of equality under the law.
The choices made by people to participate in a neo-Nazi rally are defining, as McDaniels emphasizes. McDaniel’s point is best expressed in the anonymously authored “Pig’s Song,” covered here in folk-music style by Jim Croce during his early years as an unknown. The final stanza is the most applicable:
You can tell a man who boozes
By the company he chooses,
And the pig got up and slowly walked away.