"In all of our years of tracking, we've never seen this many [hate] groups," Heidi Beirich told CBS correspondent Tony Dokoupil. Beirich is the director of Southern Poverty Law Center's (SPLC) Intelligence Project, which monitors hate group activity online. "We've never seen their ideas penetrating the mainstream the way they are. I would say most Americans don't realize how much of this there is."

It's been a little over a week since neo-Nazis marched in the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, chanting "Jews will not replace us." In the intervening days, debate has raged over just how America's national conversation has become a real-time discussion of white supremacy and its place in the U.S., muddied by President Trump's ambiguity on the matter. The groups in question -- who openly espouse racist views and have felt newly emboldened since the recent presidential campaign -- find themselves firmly back in the mainstream.

CBS News correspondent Tony Dokoupil traveled to Alabama for "CBSN: On Assignment" to speak with Beirich, before heading to Boston for last weekend's rally.

The flashpoints of this debate have been, for once, out in the open -- manifesting as public protests and counter-protests in the streets of major cities. Saturday saw a so-called "free speech" protest on Boston Common, organized by right-wing elements but dwarfed by its anti-supremacy counter-protest from the left. A similar, if smaller, pair of gatherings clashed in a shouting match in Laguna Beach, California. 

The nation witnessed what's considered one of the largest white supremacy marches in decades as hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Charlottesville. During the rally, a car rammed into a crowd of anti-fascist protesters, injuring dozens and killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer. All this against a backdrop of a national debate around the rights and wrongs of maintaining statues that

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