David Graham in The Atlantic:
The weekend of August 12, 2017, may well have been a turning point in recent American history, but it’s not entirely clear which way things turned. That weekend was when neo-Nazis and white supremacists marched in Charlottesville, Virginia. Marchers chanted “Jews will not replace us” and employed other anti-Semitic slogans. There were multiple violent clashes, and one woman, Heather Heyer, was killed when James Alex Fields Jr., one of the marchers, drove his car into a crowd. And President Donald Trump infamously equivocated about the incident. Trump said there were “very fine people on both sides” and then vacillated over the course of several days, declining to mount a sincere and forceful condemnation of the march.
By any objective standard, the incident was one of the lowest points of an administration defined by its nadirs, and the immediate reaction showed that public opinion concurred. Americans condemned Trump’s response, and his approval hit a record low. Yet almost two years later, the political effects of the violence remain unpredictable, as the past week showed. Former Vice President Joe Biden looked to Charlottesville as a focus for his presidential-campaign announcement, and found it to be more slippery than he had intended. Trump, meanwhile, showed no squeamishness in defending himself over his response. And a shooting at a synagogue in suburban San Diego, California, showed how anti-Semitic attacks have become a horrifyingly familiar part of contemporary American life.