That’s Edmund Burke speaking, or at least we think it is — the statement was attributed to him by John Stevens Cabot Abbott in 1876. It seems relevant with an eye towards Donald Trump’s apparent equivocation about the neo-nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia.
There are two other Burke quotes that might spring to mind, too, after this past weekend’s alt-right rally and the murder of a 32-year-old counter-protestor, Heather Heyer.
The first is one I grew up hearing from my father, although today I discovered that it, too, may be apocryphal: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (I’ve read that there is no primary source citing Burke as the speaker here; he may have been paraphrasing John Stuart Mill.)
But Burke definitely penned a similar sentiment: “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”