In April 2016, months before the American people elected Donald Trump president of the United States, Brandon Smith, author and member of Oath Keepers, a far-right paramilitary group made up largely of past and present U.S. soldiers and law enforcement officers, made this comment in an article he posted here.
I have said it before and I’ll say it again, if Hillary Clinton is chosen by the establishment to take Obama’s place, the result would probably be outright civil war in the U.S. The level of hatred among conservatives for that woman is so stratospheric I cannot see any other outcome. It might not happen immediately, but a solid bet would be conflagration within her first term.
With a Trump win, I could also see at the very least nationwide riots similar in tone to those that occurred in Ferguson, Missouri, with the social justice cultists running wild with their goofy slogans and molotov cocktails. These people are a paper tiger however, and are only a threat if they manage to convince a majority of the ethnic American population to follow their lead.
Weeks later, Mr. Smith told conspiracy theory propagandist Alex Jones, talking head on the discredited but still popular right-wing extremists site Infowars, Oath Keeper paramilitary “civil defense units” would take to the streets in open combat against “the jihadists and the cartels and the gangs and these radical Black Lives Matter people and the black anarchists, the black flag anarchists; they are all just force multipliers and proxies, just as we saw during the Cold War with communism.”
Eighteen months later, after voters surprisingly elected Mr. Trump, Earick Ward, another writer for Oath Keepers again predicted a civil war in America, this time blaming the coming battle on “the Left.”
The left’s desire for a second Civil War is but a precursor for their attempts to have the U.N. deem that our Constitution is not the defense against war, but its cause. The oppressed will clamor for justice. The oppressors will be deemed enemies of mankind. The American left and its globalist counterparts will announce that the American experiment has failed.
Yes, we will still have our guns, and we individually will still work to protect our families and our values, but our nation will be inexorably changed. This is a win for the left.
He claimed then that the only way to win against the left is to “not play their game,” claiming that a bloody confrontation was what groups like Antifa wanted. “The left is working overtime to incite America’s Second Civil War. While it might seem tempting to take on Antifa’s pajama boys, take caution: this is exactly what they want,” wrote Mr. Ward.
One of his readers, a man identifying himself as “Retired Navy Spook,” agreed the time for open warfare against anti-fascist political forces had not yet arrived. But that time was coming, soon.
Most Conservatives I know are still in keep-our-powder-dry mode, while quietly collecting more powder. There will come a time when we need to fight back (as in meet violence with violence), but that time is not yet here. Our adversaries are engaged in near self-immolation at this point. As Sun Tzu so famously noted, “the supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”
Now, in 2019, with the Democrats preparing an impeachment inquiry against Mr. Trump, it appears, at least for members of Oath Keepers, the time for a “hot civil war” may be very near, indeed.
Quoting Robert Jeffress, Fox host and pastor of the 12,000 member First Baptist Church of Dallas, (who once said “Evangelicals still believe in the commandment: Thou shalt not have sex with a porn star, however, whether this president violated that commandment or not is totally irrelevant to our support of him.”) Pres. Trump tweeted a warning to his followers that impeachment proceedings will cause a “civil war like fracture from which our country will never heal.”
The president’s loyal Oath Keeper troops heard his message loud and clear. Founder and president Stewart Rhodes, who faced charges of domestic violence in a restraining order filed against him in 2018 by his wife who alleged he frequently threatened his family members with a weapon he “carried on his side at all times”, responded the same day, warning of a “hot civil war” against the left, who, he claimed, conservatives see as “domestic enemies of the Constitution bent on the destruction of the Republic.”
In a follow-up tweet, Mr. Rhodes added, “Here’s the money quote from that thread. This is the truth. This is where we are. We ARE on the verge of a HOT civil war. Like in 1859. That’s where we are. And the Right has ZERO trust or respect for anything the left is doing. We see THEM as illegitimate too.”
That theme of illegitimacy permeates the far right’s message to its members. William Gensert, one of dozens of writers for the extremist site “American Thinker,” a political page that boasts dozens of authors, including some that go by nom de guerres such as “A Marine Officer,” “A Marine infantry Officer” and “A Soldier,” wrote a particularly virulent piece entitled, “No Matter Who Wins in 2020, There Will Be Blood.” In his rambling, often incoherent screed, Mr. Gensert blamed the coming war in America on the left and their alleged desire for violence against the supporters of Mr. Trump.
Those on the left will not allow a Trump victory, even should he win the popular vote and the Electoral College. They are used to getting what they want and like spoiled brats, have learned that tantrums work.
Should Donald Trump prevail in his bid for a second term, the left will go insane, deploying every “insurance policy” weapon at their disposal to negate four more years of the Orange Man. What Obama, Comey, and Brennan et al. did to Trump in his first term will seem mild in comparison to what the left is planning should he win.
Mr. Gensert claimed Antifa, which he called the military wing of the Democrat Party, has been practicing for the past three years to take to the streets and overthrow the duly re-elected Pres. Trump, should he win the “popular vote and the electoral vote” in the 2020 election to come.
“The skirling ‘resistance’ has morphed from pajama-boy blobs of perpetually offended little dictators and pussy-hat sporting shriekers into balaclava-wearing avengers who crave the opportunity to put deplorables in their place and give them the government they deserve good and hard,” wrote Mr. Gensert “They will flood the streets after a Trump victory in their Antifa costumes looking to bust the heads of anyone near enough to become part of their 15 minutes of YouTube fame.”
Should the president lose his re-election race, said Mr. Gensert, “The right will never believe the Democrats didn’t cheat their way to victory; in addition to understanding that a Democratic President will undemocratically implement policies by executive order that are inimical to their interests and desires.”
The newly elected Democratic president, warned Mr. Gensert, will enact laws the right won’t tolerate, especially ones “confiscating” firearms. The left, he said, doesn’t understand that “every gun owner is a single-issue-voter; millions will refuse to give up their guns. And, many gun owners in this country will not go ‘meekly into the night,’ there will be ‘rage’ against what they will see as a usurpation of their constitutional rights.”
That “rage,” said Mr. Gensert, will turn into open civil disobedience, some of it violent. The Democratic president will call up the National Guard to quell the violence, wrote Mr. Gensert, but many governors will disobey the order, leading the president to call home American troops serving overseas.
Mistakes will be made and there will be gunfire in the streets; people will die on both sides. The president will desperately call for martial law. Many Army, National Guard, and police will defect, or desert, or simply refuse orders.
What will happen after that is anybody’s guess.
This fantasy of Mr. Gensert’s, this wet dream of the far right paramilitary fanboys of the movie Red Dawn, is simply absurd. Any rational reader would immediately dismiss his hysterics as little more than clickbait for those with more bullets than brains.
But, unfortunately, words like his are gaining traction all over the country with far-right extremists because they are validated and given credibility by the president, himself. “Although the president was quoting Pastor Robert Jeffress’s comments on Fox News, he was adopting them as his own,” wrote Lawfare’s Mary McCord, a professor of Law at the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection at Georgetown University Law School. She added:
It might seem tempting to dismiss this language as of a piece with President Trump’s typical Twitter rhetoric. But it is worth paying particular attention to this tweet—because among the people who read it were militia groups enthusiastic about exactly what Trump portended. And while no violence has yet resulted from the president’s tweet, it would be foolish to underestimate the power of Trump’s comments to call rogue militias to action, particularly if there is an impeachment and he continues to use this rhetoric to fan the flames. In the days after his civil war tweet, he went on to use similarly incendiary language, referring to impeachment proceedings as a “COUP.”
The Oath Keepers appear primed to respond to such a call-up. In fact, just days before the president’s civil war tweet, they stated it was their duty to respond should Mr. Trump call for them to act in his defense.
“As Article 1, Section 8 states, the militia (that’s us) can be called forth ‘to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions.’ We currently face all three needs. All he has to do is call us up. We WILL answer the call,” ominously tweeted Oath Keeper founder Stewart Rhodes.
Is a civil war coming or are already in one?
Boston College History Prof. Heather Cox Richardson, an expert on the American Civil War and the Reconstruction Era, believes the similarities between today and the period leading up to the Civil War are “eerily similar.”
“The parallels between the consolidation of elite slaveowners’ power from 1830-1860 and the rise of Movement Conservatives from 1954-2019 are eerily similar,” Prof. Richardson told Newsweek, adding that both groups took and maintained power by”denigrating black Americans.”
She said that influential and wealthy white male leaders of both eras maintained their power by doubling down on racism and sexism, using “dog whistles” to signal to their voters to help them preserve the power of the monied elites that had ruled the nation for generations.
But that power was threaten in both eras by ordinary people seeking social and economic change that would provide opportunity and equality for all members of American society, including people of color and women. She said:
When Trump threatens civil war, he is not just talking about saving his own hide; he is calling for his supporters to rally around race and gender so they protect the oligarchy that has been gathering power for a generation or more.”
Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts doesn’t believe “a shooting war is imminent” but, he believes perhaps the president “might have inadvertently tweeted an important truth” when he said the country would descend into a civil war if he was impeached.
He said in a recent column what divided the States in 1860 was “irreconcilable differences” where “one side no longer saw the world in the same way as the other, no longer felt itself bound by common values and common cause.” He added:
And isn’t that a familiar refrain? In 2019, we find ourselves broken along lines of politics (the eternal red and blue grudge match) and human rights — a county clerk denying a marriage license to same-sex couples in Kentucky, Muslims denied entry to a land of religious freedom because of their faith, brown people with Spanish accents held in cages.
He argued that we are already in a “Civil war type fracture,” where one side has “seceded not simply from common values and common cause, but also from common reality. Now Trump implicitly promises to save us – but at the high cost of the Constitution, of turning a blind eye to his crimes.”
And that is where we are as a nation, split over one man, ready to tear the nation apart over Donald J. Trump. Where once we fought a war over the legacy of slavery, we are now preparing to fight one over a man who broke the commandment to not sleep with a porn star.
The question that both sides must ask themselves is are we willing to risk a real civil war, one where we destroy more than just the careers and reputations of politicians and newscasters, over Donald Trump and his brand of nationalist authoritarianism. Or are we willing to work together as a nation to, once again, find common values, a common cause and to share a common reality?
It is not merely for to-day, but for all time to come that we should perpetuate for our children’s children this great and free government, which we have enjoyed all our lives. I beg you to remember this, not merely for my sake, but for yours. I happen temporarily to occupy this big White House. I am a living witness that any one of your children may look to come here as my father’s child has. It is in order that each one of you may have through this free government which we have enjoyed, an open field and a fair chance for your industry, enterprise and intelligence: that you may all have equal privileges in the race of life, with all its desirable human aspirations. It is for this the struggle should be maintained, that we may not lose our birthright – not only for one, but for two or three years. The nation is worth fighting for, to secure such an inestimable jewel.
– Abraham Lincoln, August 22, 1864: Address to the 166th Ohio Regiment