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Politics

Racism isn't dying out

Catherine Rampell on

WASHINGTON -- If there was one silver lining to President Trump's election, it was supposed to be this: Those who voted for Trump because of, rather than despite, his demonization of Muslims and Hispanics; who fear a "majority minority" America; and who wax nostalgic for the Jim Crow era were mostly old white people.

Which meant they and their abhorrent prejudices would soon pass on -- and be replaced by generations of younger, more racially enlightened Americans.

The white nationalist rally this past weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, shows that this is a myth. Racist grandpas may be dying out, but their bigotry is regenerating in today's youths.

Yes, there were swastika-tattooed, Ku Klux Klan-hooded 50-somethings on the streets of Charlottesville. The most chilling photos, however, show hordes of torch-bearing, fresh-faced, "fashy"-coiffed white men in their teens and 20s.

Some marchers in this youth brigade are still students, one the leader of his campus chapter of the College Republicans. And some did more than march.

The driver accused of murdering counterprotester Heather Heyer and injuring 19 is a 20-year-old white man.

He would of course not be the first radicalized young white man to commit an act of domestic terrorism. There was the then-21-year-old white male who murdered nine African-Americans at a Charleston, South Carolina, church in 2015, and the 28-year-old white Baltimore man who in March allegedly rode a bus to New York in search of black men to kill at random.

A recent Joint Intelligence Bulletin, obtained by Foreign Policy magazine, details plenty of other attacks perpetrated by young white-supremacist men.

The public faces of the white supremacist "alt-right" movement are likewise skewing younger. David Duke is still around, but as a charismatic figurehead he has mostly been displaced by the likes of 39-year-old Richard Spencer, 26-year-old Matthew Heimbach and 29-year-old Tim "Baked Alaska" Gionet.

These are not people whose backwardness we can write off as an unfortunate product of their time.

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