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Psychiatrists are debating whether extreme racism is a mental illness

THE SCORES of people carrying flaming torches and chanting “Jews will not replace us” in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12 bore the message of the so-called alt-right, the white supremacist movement dedicated to eradicating religious and ethnic minorities from America. This racist uprising was followed by several rallies across the U.S., held by members of the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and other groups.

Many find the sight of hundreds of racists chanting their support for an “ethno-state” and the forceful removal from America of anyone who isn’t white horrific. But others—including some psychiatrists—see these individuals as mentally ill. Which leads to an intriguing but disturbing question: Are we seeing the emergence of a nationalist movement fueled by prejudice or a widespread personality disorder that requires psychiatric care? Answering that dredges up long-held notions about racism in America.

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Fifty years after Israel seized control of the West Bank, the Palestinians may have finally lost their bid for independence.