Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

It started with the dog-whistle presidential campaign: constant plays — some subtle, some blaring — on racial fears.

But it wasn't until the past five days — fittingly, in a fight over a Southern statue narrowly, and the stain of slavery broadly — that President Trump officially and indelibly divided the nation over race: setting us back decades, at least for now, in our common purpose of healing old, awful wounds:

  • Yesterday's unplanned press conference — with Trump's declaration that "I think there's blame on both sides" for the violence of Charlottesville, and his searing question: "What about the alt-left?" — was praised by David Duke and alt-right hotbed Breitbart.
  • Let's be honest with ourselves: A huge chunk of Trump's base lapped it up, too. That's what Steve Bannon thought would unfold, and what the president knows instinctively.
  • It was a green light for more hatred, and probably more violence — because now the president has put white supremacy on the same level as angry people reacting harshly to it.
  • Anthony Mason, anchor of the "CBS Evening News," which devoted the full half hour to the aftermath of Charlottesville, said at the top: "There was no script this time. ... President Trump said what he really believes happened in Charlottesville."
  • USA Today: "Divisions escalate between red states and blue cities."

Be smart: It's not just not normal. It's just wrong.

Go deeper: If a top Trump aide leaves, it could 'start a run on the bank'

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