Furthermore, as Putnam forthrightly acknowledges — but his right-wing appropriators ignore — the loss of trust due to increasing diversity is a short-term phenomenon. Over the long run, people reconstitute new identities and bonds based on other shared characteristics. Yesterday’s “them” become tomorrow’s “us.” For example, Putnam notes, in the 1920s, Americans were acutely conscious of divisions among European sub-groups — the Irish, Italians, Germans, Eastern Europeans — and in the 1950s of various Protestant denominations — Methodists, Lutherans, Baptists. None of these distinctions matter anymore.
Right-wing diversity critics argue that race is different. Unlike religion and nationality, it is an immutable fact of life and given the inherently tribal nature of humans, ignoring it to build a racially eclectic society means inviting conflict (which Putnam’s study did not find, incidentally). In other words, the defining project of American liberalism to transcend the tribal ties of “blood and soil” through a commitment to a universalistic creed of liberty and equality is a farce in the eyes of these self-styled American patriots.