A white nationalist carries a Confederate flag during the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, August 2017.
Joshua Roberts / Reuters

The mass shooting in Las Vegas on Sunday night has again raised fears about terrorism. There’s much we don’t yet know. The Islamic State (ISIS) has claimed the attack, but the FBI claims that there is no international terrorism link. The attacker, Stephen Paddock, was 64 years old and white, fitting a stereotype of a right-wing terrorist more than a jihadist one. And he may just be a crazy nut. But regardless of Paddock’s particular pathology, the situation highlights how the United States treats similar forms of violence differently depending on the nature of the perpetrator. 

Almost two months before, on August 12, 2017, James Alex Fields Jr. drove his car into a crowd of peaceful demonstrators in Charlottesville, killing Heather Heyer, one of the demonstrators. Heyer’s death came after a day of demonstrations in which armed neo-Nazis and Klansmen, including Fields, who bore the symbols of Vanguard America (

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