Just because someone hates what you hate doesn’t make them your friend.

The punks rampaging through America’s streets are not a front-line movement against the Donald Trump presidency or white supremacy.

For the most part, they are anarchists intent on creating chaos and toppling the institutions that hold the nation together. And they shouldn’t get a pass because they’re carrying signs and wearing T-shirts denouncing Trump and the Klan.

The so-called anti-fa, or anti-fascist, movement is exploiting those causes and embedding themselves among legitimate, peaceful protesters, seizing an opportunity to bring mayhem to the public square and shut down civil discourse.

In Phoenix Tuesday night, they were out again, raging outside an arena where the president was holding a rally, clashing with police, throwing rocks and engaging with Trump supporters.

Since Trump’s bungled “both sides” statement in denouncing the bloody white supremacy rally in Charlottesville, talking about such anti-fa violence is interpreted as apologizing for the racists.

It’s OK to condemn both the white supremacists and the anarchists in the same breath, along with any other group that thinks bloodshed is justifiable. You may rank one group worse than the other on the scale of evil. But it’s not moral equivalence to say both represent something very sinister this country can’t abide.

And that’s hate. They all love to hate. You can’t fight hate with more hate, or violence with more violence. Unity doesn’t grow out of disunity.

Just as Republicans felt compelled after Charlottesville to forcefully denounce the white supremacists because they stand on the extreme right of the political spectrum, Democrats should emphatically disavow the anti-fa militias who live on the extreme left.

The truth is, both groups operate outside the political structure, and actually would like to see that structure break apart.

In Durham, North Carolina, a mob of communists, black nationalists, members of the Democratic Socialist Party and other anti-establishment groups toppled a statue of a rebel soldier outside a public building.

All over the South, civic leaders are following an orderly process to remove Confederate memorials. But this group bypassed those steps, taking the decision making on themselves because, as one of mobster said, “We are tired of waiting.”

That’s what anarchy looks like. And you may agree with the cause this time, but don’t assume their venom is reserved only for today’s racists and yesterday’s Confederates.

It’s also aimed at the First Amendment on college campuses and capitalism in the financial centers of American cities. They’ve rioted in Portland, Seattle and Berkeley, places that never hoisted a Confederate flag.

They are not the heroes of Charlottesville, Durham or anywhere else. They compose a dangerous movement with no respect for the civil liberties of others. Their aim goes well beyond tearing down statues. It is to tear down a country they believe, because of its myriad sins, has forfeited the right to exist.

When folks take to the streets intent on violence, they are not trying to make America a better place. They are trying to destroy it.

Twitter: @NolanFinleyDN

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