A rally by white supremacists and neo-Nazis at Lafayette Park, across the street from the aptly-named White House, had them outnumbered by a much larger crowd of counter-protesters and quickly fizzled out. Less than two dozen racist gits gathered and got yelled at and shamed, then decided to leave when it started raining.
After weeks of hype, white supremacists managed to muster just a couple of dozen supporters on Sunday in the nation’s capital for the first anniversary of their deadly rally in Charlottesville, Va., finding themselves greatly outnumbered by counterprotesters, police officers and representatives of the news media.
Indeed, the streets of downtown Washington were charged on Sunday with tension, emotion and noise, particularly in the afternoon, as the right-wing agitator Jason Kessler and perhaps 20 fellow members of the far right — some wearing bright red “Make America Great Again” hats, some draped in American flags — marched under heavy police escort from the Metro station in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood to their barricaded and heavily protected rally area near the White House.
They were surrounded by a vast, rolling plume of counterprotesters, who hurled insults, waved middle fingers and chanted “Shame!”…
Another factor was a thunderstorm that rolled over Washington around 5 p.m., dampening enthusiasm and thinning out the crowds. As the rain began falling in earnest, the white supremacists began leaving Lafayette Park in front of the White House.
At the same time, let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that only the stereotypical white supremacists / skinheads / neo-Nazis matter. In fact, they probably matter the least. Far more concerning is the casual, everyday racist who supports bigoted policies and justifies them with dog whistles rather than overt calls to white supremacy. They’re more difficult to identify and, because they look and act like everyone else, their version is considered normal and relatively non-controversial. But the policies they support cause real suffering and they destroy any hope we have of living up to the ideals of equality and justify we so loudly declare at every opportunity. They aren’t so easily marginalized or dismissed and, quite frankly, they control one of the two major political parties (and have far too much influence in the other as well).
So I’m happy about the good things about this story, but I’m not going to grow complacent in thinking that fixes everything. It’s the low-hanging fruit. Much more needs to be done.