The death of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia, Aug. 12, sparked a national dialogue on race, free speech and violence in the weeks following the white supremacist rally. Much of the debate ending up focusing on President Donald Trump’s varying comments on the tragedy.

Trump was right in one respect — violence in the name of any cause is wrong. However, Trump doesn’t appear to understand — or doesn’t care — that the presidency is more than a political office. It is also a symbolic position and his moral ambiguity regarding hate groups has allowed them to come out of the shadows.

Many people assumed the white supremacists previously operating in the shadows of society were older individuals who couldn’t accept that the melting pot of America has more colors and religions than in the 1950s when white Protestants dominated American culture.

The shocking part of the images of Charlottesville is the massive number of young men, full of hate, taking part in this white nationalist rally. It was alarming to see the steady stream of young people marching with torches, reminiscent of Ku Klux Klan rallies in the South or Nazi gatherings in Germany, hurling racial slurs, chanting “Jews will not replace us,” wearing swastika armbands, holding homemade shields, carrying arms as allowed under Virginia law, and displaying Nazi and Confederate flags.

How is it possible that so many of our young citizens have twisted history around to come to the conclusion that this is OK?

Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler led to the Holocaust, in which 6 million European Jews were killed. Yet, marchers in Charlottesville threw Nazi salutes as they waved swastika flags, shouted “seig heil” and carried signs, such as “Jews are Satan’s children.”

Those who were there to protest a plan to remove a Confederate statue had to know there is more to this cause than preserving the South’s history in the Civil War.

Perhaps this is an ominous warning of the direction our wired world is heading. Until Trump’s candidacy and election, most groups focused their efforts online, operating in the shadows, yet, apparently, producing powerful results as the message hit home with some young people searching for meaning in an unsettled world.

The online “echo chamber,” where messages, no matter how bizarre or contemptuous, are constantly reinforced, creates domestic terrorists who espouse white supremacy just as it does international terrorists who commit suicide in the name of religion. In the past, someone might have a wild idea, but it would be checked by interaction with the community — real people meeting face to face. Today, people can sit at home reinforcing their hateful thoughts through like-minded affirmation by an ideological community connected by electronics.

That’s why it’s important for people, including the president, to stand up to hate groups such as the white supremacists who are now emboldened to display their hatred.

The Civil War and World War II had many factors leading to the involvement of the Union/United States, but there is no denying the moral cause. The Civil War ended slavery, although it took many more decades to reduce the prevalent discrimination resulting from this practice of “owning” other people. World War II stopped a fascist regime that was committing genocide.

There may have been some fine people on the wrong side of these wars who didn’t speak out or resist because of fear of social isolation or even death.

Trump says there are many “fine people” on both sides of the Charlottesville gathering, which drew counter-protestors, including Heyer, who lost her life. However, it is hard to justify how “fine people” could associate themselves with the blatant bigotry displayed by the white nationalists.

Today people have a choice in our free society — there is no dictator coercing them to convert to Nazism — and they have free speech. White supremacists have a right to rally, but that doesn’t mean there are fine people joining in their rallies to spew hatred based on racial and religious grounds.

Some of the counter-protestors may have had more devious aims, and they should be called out, but there are many fine people standing up to white supremacy. That resistance to hatred is a moral obligation that the president and all of us need to understand and support.

Heyer, who was killed by James Fields in Charlottesville Aug. 12, captures the sentiment best when she posted on her Facebook page just prior to her decision to stand up against racism: “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”