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Did college students in white nationalist rally just torch their futures?

Social media has enabled white supremacists to find like-minded brethren. An online call-out drew hundreds of them to Charlottesville this weekend where their white supremacists chants and Nazi homage culminated in violence and death.

Now, the same social media that united them is unmasking them.

A campaign is underway to identify the marchers captured in photos at the deadly "Unite the Right" rally where a 20-year-old from Ohio drove his car repeatedly into the crowd, killing one person and injuring 19 more.

At least one man has been fired from his restaurant job as a result of being outed by the @YesYoureRacist effort.

But some of the marchers don’t have jobs from which they can be fired; they’re college students.

I am surprised students -- including the president of the College Republicans at Washington State University who resigned earlier today -- didn't consider the consequences of participating in a rally where participants wore Nazi paraphernalia and Ku Klux Klan robes, a march described by Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer as a "parade of hatred, bigotry, racism and intolerance."

Were there no adults in their lives to caution that they were undermining their futures and that any social media images of them from the rally could haunt them for decades?

In my reporting over the years on avowed racists and white heritage fanatics, they’ve often been older men who were underemployed or self-employed; these college kids had dreams for their lives beyond collecting disability benefits from the government or relying on odd jobs.

And they likely just put a match to those dreams. Already, the presidents of colleges attended by two of the marchers have sent out a flurry of tweets distancing their campuses from the beliefs and actions of their students.

The Washington State president issued a series of tweets deploring what happened in Charlottesville but has not responded to calls to expel Allsup. Allsup has take a defiant posture, telling a critic on Twitter calling for his expulsion: "Please do - huge civil rights lawsuit win for me."

But I somehow don't see Allsup’s boastful Twitter comments enhancing his future prospects. Among them was one Saturday with #Charlottesville that stated, “What I just witnessed was the return of America.”

University of Nevada student Peter Cvjetanovic has also been identified through social media, and says he is now receiving death threats for a screaming photo that has become an emblem of the march. He has said, “I’m not the angry racist they see in that photo.” But as one person responded on Twitter, “Good luck with the job search after graduation, Peter.”

Cvjetanovic also has said, “I will defend tooth and nail my views as a white nationalist. I love my culture and will fight for it, but never in a violent way.”

Apparently, Cvjetanovic is not alone in his resolve.

A story in the AJC today reports:

Emboldened and proclaiming victory after a bloody weekend in Virginia, white nationalists are planning more demonstrations to promote their agenda following the violence that left a woman dead and dozens injured.

The University of Florida said white provocateur Richard Spencer, whose appearances sometimes stoke unrest, is seeking permission to speak there next month. And white nationalist Preston Wiginton said he is planning a "White Lives Matter" rally at Texas A&M University in September. Also, a neo-Confederate group has asked the state of Virginia for permission to rally at a monument to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Richmond on Sept. 16, and other events are likely.







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About the Author

Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.