The backlash to the Trump administration caging immigrant children has led to store owners asking White House officials to not eat in their restaurants and to protesters publicly confronting those supporting Trump’s policies. Now, voices on the far-right are increasingly unified in their only solution to the matter: civil war.
While several far-right figures have been speculating about a looming U.S. break-up for some time, recent rhetoric is a marked escalation from even a few months ago, when certain historical illiterates were only calling for an “amicable divorce.”
Now, according to increasingly shrill analysts — and even certain members of Congress — a fratricidal war is the only potential fix for the United States’ domestic tensions.
Glenn Reynolds, known colloquially as “Instapundit,” led the charge with a piece in USA Today earlier this week. Pointing to White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders being denied service in Virginia and protesters identifying Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen at a Mexican restaurant, Reynolds claimed that the administration officials’ inability to eat at certain restaurants was a sign that civil war was well underway.
“Is America headed toward a civil war? Sanders, Nielsen incidents show it has already begun,” his headline claimed. Added Reynolds, Sanders’ incident “seems like a small thing, but it would have been largely unthinkable a generation ago.”
Of course, a generation ago — the late 1960s and early 1970s — was marked by domestic unrest that outpaces what the U.S. is currently seeing by multiple magnitudes. Protesters gunned down at Kent State University, White House officials discussing fire-bombing think tanks in Washington, explosions across New York every other day — the level of domestic strife a generation ago significantly outpaces what we’ve seen recently, even with a humanitarian crisis unfurling along the U.S.’s southern border.
This is an allegation that could only be made by someone almost totally unfamiliar with the history of the far left. The far left today is, in terms of aggression & confrontation, a pale shadow of what it was like from roughly 1965-1985. https://t.co/QLRmVkDaNB
— Mark Pitcavage (@egavactip) June 26, 2018
And the notion that the inability for Nielsen to get a burrito is somehow comparable to brutal antebellum beatings on the Senate floor, or that Sanders being politely asked to leave could spark a reprise of the “Bleeding Kansas” debacle that preceded the Civil War — or that it could lead to spiraling cases of outright secession — is laughable.
Little matter, though. Chatter of civil war has spiked over the past two weeks, from Trump rallies to pro-Trump conspiracy fonts like Alex Jones.
One woman told me to get the F*** out. Another warned a second Civil War is coming. Another held my hand to say… thank you. https://t.co/ulU1vmSKHF
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) June 26, 2018
Breaking! Democrats Officially Announce Civil War Plan In America https://t.co/V55NZayrSI
— Alex Jones (@RealAlexJones) June 27, 2018
Conspiracy site Zero Hedge recently published a piece claiming that “The Modern Civil War Is Being Fought Without Guns… So Far!” Gab, a social media platform infested with fascists and white supremacists, even got in on the action. In a since-deleted Tweet, Gab wrote that “Civil War 2.0 is going to be lit.”
For good measure, a writer named Jesse Kelly recently contributed a piece to The Federalist in which he fantasized about scalping those he disagreed with politically. Kelly, who is best-known as a failed Congressional candidate — and who currently identifies himself on LinkedIn as an RV salesman — wrote that the U.S. will “almost certainly” see Americans “die in the inevitable communist purges.” His solution? For people to “cho[o]se war.”
Kelly, to be sure, represents a fringe voice few take seriously. (He also has trouble spelling the word “people.”) In a rebuttal to Kelly’s earlier call for the disintegration of the U.S., Lyman Stone noted in The Federalist that only are “red states” pock-marked with massive, liberal-leaning enclaves like Louisville, Dallas, and St. Louis, but that the assumption that a supposedly more martial culture will prove victorious in a civil war is a faulty one.
As Stone wrote, “[The Confederacy’s] presumption that the less-culturally-militaristic north would be easy to beat was utterly and completely wrong.”
But the fact that the U.S. stamped out the treasonous Confederacy movement hasn’t stopped officials like Rep. Steve King (R.-IA) from proudly waving the Confederate flag — or from adding to the recent rhetoric on civil war.
“America is heading in the direction of another Harpers Ferry. After that comes Ft. Sumter,” King tweeted earlier this week. (This came a few days after King retweeted a neo-Nazi, for which King said he was “not sorry.”)
America is heading in the direction of another Harpers Ferry. After that comes Ft. Sumter. https://t.co/5PmwlwcdSQ
— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) June 24, 2018
America’s Civil War, of course, broke along sectional lines: traitorous state governments from Virginia to Texas attempted to fracture the U.S.; the other state and territorial governments in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, and West held firm; and the U.S. military annihilated the forces picking up arms against American soldiers.
Any “Civil War 2.0” would be far less sectional, far more muddled, and likely far bloodier — a reality these far-right voices appear to welcome.
Thankfully, any potential reprise of the Civil War remains limited to the fetid, frothing, fascistic minds of those on the far-right. And so long as protests remain peaceful, that’s where it will stay — even if it means Sanders or Nielsen will have a bit more trouble finding tacos in the future.