A bunch of white supremacists went to Dayton to foment hatred and, instead, were confronted by an overwhelming demonstration of love and camaraderie.
But the presence of members of the Indiana Ku Klux Klan in a major city in Ohio was a stark reminder of the rise of white nationalism across the United States.
As Keegan Hankes, a researcher for the Southern Poverty Law Center, told the Associated Press, the number of hate groups is growing, driven in part by a toxic political culture.
The human rights organization counted 784 active hate groups in the U.S. in 2014 and 1,020 in 2018.
Indeed, while Dayton residents sent a timely and clear message by drowning out the Kluxers and their ilk, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley had an observation about her city that President Donald J. Trump should be conveying about the nation:
“Dayton is still too segregated and still too unequal. This is unacceptable, and something we must keep focused on to change every single day.”
The Dayton Daily News reported that 500 to 600 people showed up Saturday on Courthouse Square to protest the rally by the Indiana KKK.
The paper, which made note of the presence of more than 700 law enforcement personnel, quoted Shanta Parham, 39, of Dayton, as saying it was important to show pride and solidarity and to not respond with violence, hate or stupidity.
“This is my city, and I am going to stand up for it,” Parham said.
It’s the kind of message that needs to be delivered around the country as the racial divide widens.
Despite the insistence of the White House that President Trump has shown the proper leadership in tamping down the racist rhetoric, the fact remains that his comments after white supremacists rallied in August 2017 in Charlottsville have energized the KKK and others.
Although a counterprotester was killed when a car rammed into her and others, the president responded by claiming there were “very fine people on both sides.”
Trump has also fueled the white nationalist movement with his anti-immigration rhetoric and his claims that dangerous criminals are pouring into this country from the Southern Hemisphere.
Here are the opening paragraphs of the extensive story about the increase in hate groups, especially in the West.
“Nearly two decades after the Aryan Nations’ Idaho compound was demolished, far-right extremists are maintaining a presence in the Pacific Northwest.
“White nationalism has been on the rise across the U.S., but it has particular resonance along the Idaho-Washington border, where the Aryans espoused hate and violence for years.”
What is most troubling is that such groups are finding allies in government and other public institutions.
For instance, in the county that houses Hayden Lake, Idaho, where Aryan Nations was based for decades, Republicans last month passed a measure that puts the Trump administration on the spot.
Members of the GOP expressed support for U.S. entry of a prominent Austrian far-right activist who was investigated for ties to the suspected gunman in the New Zealand mosque massacre.
In late April, a self-described “American Nationalist” named Brittany Pettibone appeared at a meeting of Kootenai County, Idaho, Republicans to ask for help to bring her boyfriend, Martin Sellner, to the country from Austria, the Associated Press reported.
Pettibone, 26, said Sellner wants to marry her and live in Post Falls, Idaho.
Pettibone was a big promoter of the hoax known as “Pizzagate,” telling her online followers Hillary Clinton and other high-profile Democrats were involved in satanic rituals and child-sex trafficking tied to a Washington, D.C., pizza restaurant.
Sellner is a leading figure in the extremist “identitarian” movement, which espouses a white nationalist ideology (that) has swept over Europe amid an influx of migrants and refugees. He has confirmed he exchanged emails with the suspected New Zealand shooter, who donated money to Sellner’s group. But Sellner denies involvement in the attack, according to the wire service.
Despite his background, the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee passed a resolution urging the federal government to allow Sellner into the United States. The resolution said the government revoked Sellner’s travel privileges “for political reasons,” and demanded those privileges be reinstated.
Republican President Trump and the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate have made it clear that Islamic extremists from the Middle East will be kept out of the United States.
What about an extremist from Europe?
The nation will be watching to see how the Trump administration treats white extremist Sellner.