A frightening new poll has found that 9 percent of Americans believe it’s “acceptable” to hold white supremacists or neo-Nazi views — the equivalent of nearly 30 million people.
The survey, which was conducted by the Washington Post and ABC News, showed that of those 9 percent, a third “strongly agreed” with the statement, “Do you think it’s acceptable or unacceptable to hold neo-Nazi or white supremacist views?”
Overall, 10 percent of respondents described themselves as supporters of the “alt-right” movement, an attempted rebranding of the white supremacist movement, while 41 percent said they had no opinion on the matter. The survey found that 42 percent thought that Trump had put white supremacists and neo-Nazis “on equal standing with those who opposed them”.
The poll, which was conducted in the wake of the protests in Charlottesville, also showed that 56 percent of respondents disapproved of Trump’s response to the violence that took place that weekend, while 28 percent approved.
The Unite the Right rally in Virginia brought a slew of international condemnation, but there had been a steady uptick in far-right violence even before Charlottesville.
In February, 51-year-old Kansas resident Adam Purinton allegedly killed Indian tech engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla; Purinton had allegedly used racial slurs against Kuchibhotla and his friend, Alok Madasani, and questioned their immigration status before shooting both of them.
In May, Jeremy Joseph Christian was accused of slashing the throats of two commuters in Portland, Oregon after allegedly hurling anti-Muslim slurs at a young woman in a hijab and her friend.
Racist overtones plagued the Charlottesville rally as well. The Southern Poverty Law Center documented several of the flags present that day, and noted that one of them, the flag of “Kekistan” — a green banner modeled on the Nazi flag with the 4chan symbol in the top left — has become “a kind of tribal marker of the white supremacist movement.” According to the SPLC, it’s “mainly useful to the alt-right as a trolling device for making fun of liberals and ‘political correctness.”
Other flags used at the rally included that of the Traditionalist Workers Party, which advocates for racially pure nations, and one often used by the white supremacist group Vanguard America. James Alex Fields Jr., the man who allegedly drove a car into a group of anti-fascist counter-protesters in Charlottesville, killing one, was pictured holding up a black shield emblazoned with Vanguard America’s logo.
The killing in Charlottesville drew international outrage, but the SPLC has documented another 11 white nationalist hate groups based in Virginia alone – including several around Washington D.C.