CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.— “We value diversity equality and love in this establishment and in our community,” a paper sign read. It was taped to the door of The Pie Chest, a small bakery just off the brick-lined downtown mall in Charlottesville, Virginia. A similar sign—“MINORITY RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS”—was taped to the window of the mall’s Citizen Burger Bar. A banner stretched over East Market Street, right next to the Paramount Theater: “DIVERSITY makes us STRONGER,” it read. “DIVERSITY” was rendered in the colors of the rainbow.

Charlottesville is, like many university towns, a progressive enclave. Its commercial areas are studded with juice bars and coffee shops and boutiques with whimsical names like The Impeccable Pig. Charlottesville is almost aggressively scenic. Charlottesville is almost impossibly charming. In 2014, Charlottesville was named by the National Bureau of Economic Research as America’s happiest city.

Why, then, has Charlottesville, home of the University of Virginia, also been home—repeatedly, if extremely reluctantly—to the rallies of white supremacists? Why has this cheerful and laconic and politically progressive town been a favorite venue of neo-Nazis and the alt-right and the KKK? And why has Charlottesville been, this weekend, the setting for the violence that has emerged from what has been dubbed “the largest hate-gathering of its kind in decades in the United States”?

The answer comes down, in large part, to one more thing Charlottesville is: historic. It is a city that embraces its history, not as a frank fact of the past but as a defining feature of its present. Plaques and statues are everywhere on the becolumned UVA campus. Thomas Jefferson—as a person and as an idea—infuses the place. But Charlottesville is not merely a blue city in a red state; it is also a southern town in a southern state. The monuments that make the …read more

Source:: The Atlantic – Best of

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