It’s odd that we should have marked the one-year anniversary of the violent, hate-inspired white nationalist rally in Charlottesville that claimed the life of a young woman.

But then again, maybe not. It certainly gives us pause to understand that, in part, this is who we are. It is an ugly wart.

While we would like to think that our country is better than what transpired in the chaos of that day, the episode reminds us all that we have miles to travel as a nation in wiping hate from our collective heart.

Well, a report in the Wall Street Journal last week indicates the white nationalist hate group movement has fractured since that ominous day in Charlottesville. If so, it is a day that did not come too soon.

Our country’s history is replete with uncomfortable and incontrovertible truths, from the sins of slavery preceding our nation’s birth to Manifest Destiny, a 19th Century belief that the expansion of the United States across the continent was both justified and inevitable. The planned and systematic eradication of Native Americans is a dark blot on the country’s soul.

And now – despite entire centuries to learn and heal – we just can’t seem to shake the despicable mindset that rates one race superior to all others.

As a nation, we have proven to be quick to hold to the past and slow to change our ways. A founding principle, all men are created equal, seems at times a quaint notion. We are not incapable of breaking with the ugliness of our past. Just unwilling.

We can be better than this. We have to.

At the time, the violent Charlottesville rally – organized by Nazis, racists and white nationalists to protest the removal of statues honoring Confederate soldiers – was thought to have energized the alt-right. Many in its ranks predicted their momentum would continue.

As often is the case, they were wrong.

On Sunday, a “white civil rights rally” was held in the nation’s capitol – right across the street from the White House. As expected, it drew a small crowd.

We are not shedding tears – crocodile or otherwise. The sooner these people retreat to the Primordial goop from which they crawled, the better for our society at large.

Apparently, lawsuits, infighting and a social-media crackdown are hampering the ability of white nationalists and other right-wing groups to organize and to spread their propaganda. Some white-supremacist groups have been blocked by financial companies that refuse to process credit-card transactions.

Low attendance at far right events in Boston, Tennessee, Florida and elsewhere have disappointed organizers. At a scheduled white nationalist rally in Murfreesboro, Tenn., last October, organizers were a no-show.

These fools were never known for their courage or for their sense of history. Many, wearing Nazi regalia, are clearly ignorant of the heroism of American soldiers who braved the battlefields of Europe to expose the wicked truths of Nazism and bring an end to Hitler’s terrible reign.

And yet, those are exactly the extreme political views some of these people hold and a form of government that they advocate.

We would suggest their intentions, at times, seem seditious – and they and their motives should be condemned – from the White House to Main Street.

We know that far-right ideas will continue to circulate – no matter the decline in the alt-right’s ability to organize. But they need to be held in check and not given fertile ground to plant their noxious seeds.

That’s where leaders can step forward.

— The Register-Herald

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