Current manifestations of xenophobia, and the resurgence of far right movements in the United States, were thought to be things of the past, in countries poisoned by extremist ideas and practices that border on fascism.
Yet, President Donald Trump, enjoying a vacation at a golf resort in New Jersey, had his rest interrupted with the news of racist violence which had erupted in the city of Charlottesville, Virginia, considered to reflect the dramatic resurgence of the far right in the United States.
In a country where the existence of some 1,600 extremist groups has been documented, and where reports are heard on a daily basis of white police killing Blacks, the sum total of these events constitutes frightening evidence of a deeply corroded system.
During the events in Charlottesville, a young woman named Heather Heyer, 32 years of age, was killed, and another 19 injured when a vehicle was driven into a crowd of demonstrators opposed to right wing extremists who were holding a gathering in the city.
The U.S. President's reaction put him in the middle of a controversy.
His first statement on August 12 unleashed a wave of criticism for speaking of violence on "many sides." Given the outcry, Trump attempted some damage control the following Monday, reading a statement from the White House, avoiding improvisations, and denouncing by name the Ku Klux Klan, white supremacists, and neo-Nazis.
But the respite did not last long. In what was to be a routine press conference at Trump Towers in New York City, Trump departed from the script and accepted questions about Charlottesville. His improvised answers lit up social media and the nation's political life.
He softened his critique of white supremacists and returned to his much criticized position implying that responsibility for violence was equally shared by the right wing extremists and those who came out to protest their positions, saying, "What about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?… And you had a group on one side that was bad. And you had a group on the other side that was also very violent… I think there is blame on both sides. "
One of the first to react was the historic leader of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke, who praised the President for telling the truth, posting on his Twitter account, "Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about #Charlottesville & condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/Antifa. (Black Lives Matter/ Anti-fascists)"
The Democrats have noted that the President is simply not willing to alienate a segment of his electoral base that harbors racist beliefs.
Nancy Pelosi, leader of the Democratic minority in the House of Representatives, stated that Trump's remark about blame for violence on both sides "ignores the abhorrent evil of white supremacism" in the United States.
The Mayor of Charlottesville, Michael Signer, said in an interview on CBS television that the President was in large part responsible for what had happened in his city.
According to BBC Mundo, among the groups that make up the alt-right in the U.S. are racists and nationalist whites who admire Trump.
This movement, which has reemerged recently, was encouraged in part by the rhetoric used in the 2016 election campaign, in which Trump was accused of making segregationist, anti-Semitic, and anti-Muslim remarks.
The best known of these is the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), a white supremacist group initially formed by ex-Confederate officers in southern states, after their 1865 defeat in the Civil War, which has spread across the country. White hoods identify the group which has carried out lynchings and violent attacks against Blacks and anyone they believe threatens white supremacy.
Estimates indicate that the KKK has some 8,000 members active throughout the country, although growth, especially in the South, has been noted since 2016.
Likewise, neo-Nazi groups in the U.S. hold anti-Semitic ideas, and adore Adolph Hitler and Nazi Germany.
These groups are protected by the First Amendment in the U.S. Constitution that recognizes the right to free speech and assembly.
Who could forget the march of neo-Nazis bearing swastikas in Skokie, Illinois, a majority Jewish town - authorized by the Supreme Court.
The members of these groups belong to organizations like the Nazi Party, the National Socialist Movement, or the most visible, the National Alliance.
The American Freedom Party, founded in 2009, has racism and anti-immigrant policies as principal parts of its platform.
Even a cursory analysis of the racism that infects U.S. society leads one to the conclusion that the issues go beyond a confrontation between black and white, and points to the very foundations of the system, its politics, and concept of liberty expressed in the Constitution.