The horrific images of a car plowing into a group of counterprotesters Saturday in Charlottesville, Va., will be viewed by millions of Americans in the coming days and weeks, once again prompting national soul-searching about racism, hate and freedom of expression.
A protest billed as the largest gathering of white nationalists in recent years drew hundreds of people carrying Confederate flags and chanting Nazi-era slogans. As they neared a statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville's Emancipation Park, they were surrounded by counterprotesters. An ugly brawl soon broke out, but police and National Guard members eventually were able to restore order.
Any sense of calm was shattered, though, when the driver of a sedan hit another car before backing up, careening through counterprotesters in the process. One person was killed, and many more hurt.
President Donald Trump condemned what he called an "egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides." Trump's critics were quick to seize on his reference to "many sides" and questioned the sincerity of his call for calm.
There should be no debate on this point: White supremacy is a disease that threatens to weaken an increasingly diverse but divided nation. Hate crimes are on the rise across the country, and that should concern all peace-loving Americans.
Trump told reporters that he spoke with Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, and "we agreed that the hate and the division must stop, and must stop right now." That's a message he should build on in the days ahead, making it clear that racism in all its forms will not be tolerated.