Politics and Prose in Northwest Washington, where white nationalists disrupted a reading on April 27. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

A small group of white nationalists marched into a sacred place in Washington over the weekend.

There were no guns or burning torches. But it was still frightening.

An author at one of D.C.’s most beloved bookstores had just begun his talk Saturday when the group came into Politics and Prose — a temple of words and pages, a church of discussion and debate.

At a time when hatred is fueling attacks against synagogues, churches and mosques, the white nationalists stormed past the signed copy of “How We Fight White Supremacy” and past “The Politics of Losing: Trump, the Klan and the Mainstreaming of Resentment.”

There’s plenty of provocative literature at this bookstore — in any bookstore across the country, really.

But the protesters targeted this book, “Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America’s Heartland” and its author, Jonathan Metzl. And their choice shows exactly how little nuance and thought exists in this “movement,” a cauldron of discontent that has led to a spike in hate crimes since Donald Trump became president.

“The irony of this whole situation is the talk I was giving at Politics and Prose actually agreed with some of the points that they are making,” said Metzl, a psychiatrist and director of the Center for Medicine, Health and Society at Vanderbilt University.

“I agree that whiteness is under attack,” he said. “But the driver of that despair isn’t immigrants, like the protesters are saying.”

Illness, addiction and gun violence are among white America’s top killers. Yet Metzl’s research shows that many working-class whites vote against the Affordable Care Act, including the expansion of Medicaid that could help their families and communities, as well as any sensible restrictions on gun purchases.

But rather than debate Metzl’s research, rather than ask him questions about his ideas, the Saturday visitors decided to stand at attention in a phalanx between the author and the audience and bullhorn their message.

“You would have the white working class trade their homeland for handouts,”…