Trump, hate groups draw power from the indifferent

A new poll about Americans’ racial attitudes shows most people don’t support racist ideology. Unfortunately, it’s more complicated than that.

Last week a Bellevue couple found the letters KKK scrawled in the driveway of their home. And Friday, members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community arrived at their mosque in Monroe and found that it had been vandalized with offensive graffiti.

Most people would agree that’s wrong, and that the KKK and other hate groups are bad. But that’s not enough.

A poll of racial attitudes in the United States released Friday found few people who said they supported the alt-right, white nationalists or neo-Nazism. Yet something prompted concern.

The researchers wrote “ … it will be disturbing to many that a not insubstantial proportion of those polled demonstrated neutrality and indifference or, worse, expressed support for antiquated views on race.”

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As I’ve said before, the symptoms on the surface (obvious acts of bigotry) point to a deeper disease that needs to be diagnosed and treated.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll was done in conjunction with the University of Virginia Center for Politics. People were questioned between Aug. 21 and Sept. 5, after the rally and counterprotest in Charlottesville where the university is located.

Six percent of respondents strongly or somewhat supported the alt-right, 8 percent supported white nationalism and 4 percent supported neo-Nazism.

Those are small numbers, but as center Director Larry Sabato pointed out, in a country this big, that’s millions of people — people I don’t want to have to deal with when I need a repair at my house, or a loan, or a meal in a restaurant. But the odds are I encounter some of them every day.

The survey covered a wide range of topics having to do with race, from attitudes about interracial marriage to whether Confederate monuments should remain in public spaces.

Fifty-four percent of black people said the statues should be removed, while the majority of white respondents (67 percent) said the monuments should stay where they are. There was a political divide, too, with 81 percent of Republicans saying the monuments should remain in place, while among Democrats, 38 percent said they support keeping them and 46 percent would move them.

Race and politics are intertwined in America. That’s always been so, but the election of Donald Trump is…

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