Unexamined Premises

The Coming Second American Civil War?

With all the talk of a new Civil War in the air, this piece in the far-left New Yorker, which originally ran in August 2017 in the wake of Charlottesville, is worth revisiting on this Memorial Day weekend. The New Yorker seems these days to be written entirely by spoiled children and mouthpieces for the Central Intelligence Agency, but it is a reliable barometer of the increasingly lunatic preoccupations of the seething Left, and it behooves us to keep an eye on it. So let’s take a short trip in the Wayback Machine and have a look:

Just to prove it’s on the side of the angels, look whom the magazine quotes in the very first paragraph:

A day after the brawling and racist brutality and deaths in Virginia, Governor Terry McAuliffe asked, “How did we get to this place?” The more relevant question after Charlottesville—and other deadly episodes in Ferguson, Charleston, Dallas, St. Paul, Baltimore, Baton Rouge, and Alexandria—is where the United States is headed. How fragile is the Union, our republic, and a country that has long been considered the world’s most stable democracy? The dangers are now bigger than the collective episodes of violence. “The radical right was more successful in entering the political mainstream last year than in half a century,” the Southern Poverty Law Center reported in February. The organization documents more than nine hundred active (and growing) hate groups in the United States.

When the first “authority” you cite is America’s foremost hate group, you know you’re off to a bad start:

America’s stability is increasingly an undercurrent in political discourse. Earlier this year, I began a conversation with Keith Mines about America’s turmoil. Mines has spent his career—in the U.S. Army Special Forces, the United Nations, and now the State Department—navigating civil wars in other countries, including Afghanistan, Colombia, El Salvador, Iraq, Somalia, and Sudan. He returned to Washington after sixteen years to find conditions that he had seen nurture conflict abroad now visible at home. It haunts him….

Based on his experience in civil wars on three continents, Mines cited five conditions that support his prediction: entrenched national polarization, with no obvious meeting place for resolution; increasingly divisive press coverage and information flows; weakened institutions, notably Congress and the judiciary; a sellout or abandonment of responsibility by political leadership; and the legitimization of violence as the “in” way to either conduct discourse or solve disputes.

Almost everything about that last paragraph was and is nonsense. While it’s true we are polarized — largely because the Democrats (just as they did in 1860) refuse to accept the results of the last presidential election — it’s hardly true to say the press coverage is “divisive” when it’s almost entirely one-sided in its slant (the Left, good; the Right, bad); or that the judiciary — which finds a compliant federal judge at the drop of hat to try and nullify the lawful powers of the executive — is “weakened.” It is true that some elements of “political leadership,”  most notably the Clintons and their apologists in the media, have abandoned their responsibilities to the country they profess to love and serve. But if there’s violence — and there is — it comes almost entirely from the Left, in the forms of Antifa, Black Lives Matter and other groups of provocateurs.

Wait — it gets worse:

To test Mines’s conjecture, I reached out to five prominent Civil War historians this weekend. “When you look at the map of red and blue states and overlap on top of it the map of the Civil War—and who was allied with who in the Civil War—not much has changed,” Judith Giesberg, the editor of the Journal of the Civil War Era and a historian at Villanova University, told me. “We never agreed on the outcome of the Civil War and the direction the country should go in. The postwar amendments were highly contentious—especially the Fourteenth Amendment, which provides equal protection under the law—and they still are today. What does it mean to deliver voting rights to people of color? We still don’t know.”

Oh, please. The only folks who apparently didn’t accept the outcome of the Civil War were the Southern Democrats, who formed the KKK, assassinated Lincoln, and tried to frustrate President Grant at every turn.

Before Charlottesville, David Blight, a Yale historian, was already planning a conference in November on “American Disunion, Then and Now.” “Parallels and analogies are always risky, but we do have weakened institutions and not just polarized parties but parties that are risking disintegration, which is what happened in the eighteen-fifties,” he told me. “Slavery tore apart, over fifteen years, both major political parties. It destroyed the Whig Party, which was replaced by the Republican Party, and divided the Democratic Party into northern and southern parts.”

Generally, Blight added, “We know we are at risk of civil war, or something like it, when an election, an enactment, an event, an action by government or people in high places, becomes utterly unacceptable to a party, a large group, a significant constituency.” The nation witnessed tectonic shifts on the eve of the Civil War, and during the civil-rights era, the unrest of the late nineteen-sixties and the Vietnam War, he said. “It did not happen with Bush v. Gore, in 2000, but perhaps we were close. It is not inconceivable that it could happen now.”

So here we are today, nine months later, and has the likelihood of armed conflict diminished? We still have the absurd Mueller investigation running rampant and essentially unsupervised. We have increasing evidence that elements of the intelligence community, with the blessing of the Obama administration, actively spied on the Republican presidential candidate in order to defeat or at least delegitimize him. Meanwhile, the spurned Dowager Empress of Chappaqua continues her Crybaby Tour, and conservatives are shouted down in public venues, when they are not outright attacked. Rogue states like California are now openly attempting federal nullification — and are celebrated for it. And, just to refresh our memory of what actually happened in Charlottesville:

So how does the theory behind this piece hold up? I think the likelihood of civil war is in fact less than it was last summer. While the violent Left will never accept Donald Trump as president, his recent string of victories in both foreign and domestic affairs has quietened them, as Americans are finding they have money money in their pockets, “Now Hiring” signs are sprouting up all over, and the number of jobs available now matches the number of unemployed workers:

The U.S. job market reached a historic marker in March as the number of available jobs reportedly equaled the number of unemployed workers for the first time in two decades. According to a new report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employers were advertising openings for 6.55 million positions in March. The May 8 release adds that 6.59 million Americans were unemployed at that time, meaning that there was 1.01 open jobs per unemployed worker in the country.

The Department of Labor said the nearly 6.6. million openings represented the most since the agency started tracking job advertisements in December 2000. The parity of jobs and job seekers is being called a historic oddity as the number of unemployed Americans is usually far above what’s currently available.

So while the Left continues to criticize the president for “chaos,” the fact remains that it’s the Left that thrives on it. Keeping the people downtrodden, miserable, and resentful has long been the key to violent Leftist revolutions. With their command of the media, they will continue to make it seem that the only solution to the political difficulties they are suffering is the use of force. But on this Memorial Day, when we mourn and honor our American war dead — Democrats and Republicans alike — we need to reject their constant provocation and remember what unites us, instead of what divides us.




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