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Charlottesville mayhem underscores growing US white supremacy movement

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-08-15 09:07

Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Darrell West told Xinhua that, going forward, the United States may see more such violence if the lives of Trump supporters - many of whom voted for him because they were struggling financially -- do not see their lives improve.

"Trump supporters expect the President to make their lives better. If that does not happen, they will be deeply disillusioned and likely to grow even more frustrated," West said.

That, West believes, could increase the number of those engaging in racism and political mayhem.

"There is the risk they will join other like-minded people and engage in racist behavior and political violence," he said.

"The coming years may be more volatile and tumultuous in the United States," he said.

The growth of such groups is a radical manifestation of myriad changes impacting white, working class Americans, a demographic that has felt the sting of joblessness in recent decades as factory jobs have moved down to Mexico or overseas.

Indeed, while the official US jobless rate hovers around 5 percent, that figure only calculates those who are actively seeking full time employment, and many believe the real number is dramatically higher.

Millions of Americans - many are whites in rural areas - have given up seeking work on the utter lack of prospects. Moreover, critics say the rate skews the real situation. For example, an out-of-work engineer, who cuts his neighbor's lawn for one day and receives 20 US dollars - enough to buy a couple of meals - is counted as employed for that entire week by the government bureau that compiles the US jobless reports.

Many others are finding only part time work, although that situation differs sharply from the employment situation in major cities like Washington DC and New York. In those and other large cities, wages are high and jobs are abundant.

Moreover, many working class whites feel their lifestyle and belief systems are being threatened by what they see as an elite government in Washington that does not have their best interests in mind.

And at a time when there are 11 million illegal immigrants in the country, many believe - rightly or wrongly - that wages in such industries as construction are being driven down by illegal migrants.

This demographic has been angry for some time, and saw in Trump someone who would put them back to work, deport illegal migrants they believed were taking their jobs, and correct what they saw as unfair trade practises they feel threatened their livelihood.

Many Trump supporters, however, are quick to point out that the weekend's violence constitutes only a fringe group of Trump supporters. Others point out that most Americans are not as focused on the nation's political situation as are vocal minorities on both sides.

Some non-radical Trump supporters argue that it is not Trump's fault that right-wing radicals follow him, and contend that many radical whites have interpreted Trump's statements to mean whatever the radicals want them to mean.

Others maintain that every word out of a US president's mouth can have consequences, and Trump must be much more careful with what he says, as he is known for emotional outbursts and over-the-top statements.

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