Members of the National Socialist Movement  in Washington David Holloway/Getty Images

Are Nazis as American as Apple Pie?

Notwithstanding recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia, any sober observer can see that the United States is still a long way from the fevered atmosphere of Germany in 1933. But just because US institutions are holding up does not mean that they can't be put in the service of vicious political programs.

NEW HAVEN – Is the United States threatened by Nazism? The short answer is no, notwithstanding the frightening events in Charlottesville, Virginia, this past weekend.

In Charlottesville, the home of the University of Virginia, founded by Thomas Jefferson, white nationalists, separatists, neo-Nazis, members of the Ku Klux Klan, and other likeminded groups rallied behind Swastika banners and marched in a Nazi-style torchlight procession. By the end of the next day, there had also been thuggish violence. One white supremacist went so far as to drive a car into a crowd of counter-protestors, killing one and injuring 19 others.

The groups responsible for the violence in Charlottesville reveled in US President Donald Trump’s election last November. And Trump has often hesitated to disavow them; during the election campaign, when former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke publicly backed him, Trump was scandalously slow to reject Duke and his followers. Trump also repeatedly incited violence during the campaign, while evincing a bottomless affection for authoritarian leaders such as Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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