Civil War or War on Civilians?

“I admit that political polarization may bring it all to an end, we’re going to have a hung election and a civil war.” Bill Gates, September 2022

This is my third, and I hope last, article on the woeful condition of politics and “Christianity” in the United States. Earlier, I remarked with shock and sadness on the conservative Christians’ penchant for conspiracy theories. Later, under the influence of heterogeneous sources, I predicted the violence likely as a result of the November presidential election—but never thought anything like the violence of Jan. 6, 2021 would occur.

This article is personal. I suggest we all write something similar in our minds while we have time to think. A couple of disclaimers to let you know where I stand. First, I’m a man without a party. Or at least I haven’t found it. Show me a party that seeks to preserve the life of the unborn and the life of mother Earth (and the lives she includes), and I’ll sign up. Second, while I don’t consider myself a Christian, others might consider me so, because that term is broad enough to include the KKK and Desmond Tutu.

Civil War

January 6th was precipitated by months of President Trump suggesting the election would be stolen—at least as early as June, 2020. (He and his people eventually lost the vast majority of his court cases.)[1] Democracy in the United States as a result has gone from its typical oligarchy of plutocrats to a sickly system on life support.

Those who believe the 2020 election was stolen, really believe it. They live in a world of alternate media and alternate facts. Their horizons are filled with a fear of imminent government control, deep state control, loss of constitutional freedoms, property, and, to round things out, loss of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

No matter how they arrived there, they are deeply rooted in their perceptions. They think they are doing either the country or God (or both) a service. We know about 70% of Republicans still think the election was stolen.[2] I assume many who on a quiz would say, “Yes the election was stolen,” do not see the opinion as actionable, except perhaps to volunteer at their local polling place in the next election. So with an indefensible guess, I suppose about 40% of the population see themselves as intolerably robbed and persecuted.

Whatever the percentage of the US is convinced that their lives, property, and freedoms are being threatened by others, particularly Democrats—whether it be 40% or 70%—the situation is dire. Short of Donald Trump coming to his senses, i.e. having a true conversion (it happens), and pleading with his followers to disavow their allegiance to Trumpism, I see no end to the turmoil.

Think of hundreds of thousands of mostly armed people truly believing they and their families are about to lose their livelihood. Realize it is no stretch of the imagination to see them taking up arms against somebody. Long before Trump, stories have been circulating among Christians about the Beast taking control of their lives, robbing them of their freedom. Ignore the fact that homicide takes one closer to the Beast (whoever that/they may be), add to the older teachings the current Internet articles packed with conspiracy theories, including the most notorious and least substantial QAnon theory—and you have the ingredients for unbridled violence.

The truth is we are already in a civil war. Outside of Jan. 6, it is being fought with words and dollars right now. Even so, there is nothing close to the Pledge of Allegiance’s “one Nation indivisible.” The question is whether things will spill over to the streets, malls, schools, and churches (to name some leading sites of bloodshed in our country).[3]

War on Civilians

When I used to read about the American Civil War, I never could grasp how brothers could fight against brothers and fathers against sons. Now the possibility is palpable. But it is worse. The thing the Civil War had going for it was geography. The longest section of the Mason-Dixon line, drawn nearly 100 years before the Civil War, provided an approximate demarcation between the Southern slave states and the Northern free states. There were of course anomalies, but in general, a compass could help you figure out who to shoot.

Today, that orientation is not available. It might be easier to determine the targets by browser tracking cookies, dividing people according to their news sources…flag this one for INFOWARS and this one for Democracy Now!—and pity the investigative journalists and students trying to look into both sides.

No expert in the Red Scare, I predict lists will be made. Addresses will be collected. Web logs (here I am) will be scoured, noted, and added to lists. Intimidation will of course increase. We already know paramilitary groups are yearning for conflict. Several of the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers have already been indicted for their Jan. 6 sedition.

Violence cannot be guided by state boundaries, no matter how red some states and blue other states supposedly are. I’ve heard some assertions (by people touting the upcoming civil war) that it will take place on the county level. I live in a supposedly true blue county (Boulder, CO), but I assure you if some of the approximately 19.8 million automatic weapons in this country open fire in this county, they will definitely be killing many of their own.[4]

Whether occurring in this century, decade, or year, civil war will necessarily be war on civilians rather than simply by civilians. Perhaps some liberals are ponying up with their automatic rifles. Antifa might be. The majority of Democrats and liberals are not. They, after all, have the upper hand right now, and they in general have never been keen on their Second Amendment right to have a “well regulated Militia” except through the armed forces of the US.

Personal Response

The preceding preamble was necessary to stress that those who feel the US government is against them are numerous and dedicated to their cause. They will not be persuaded by argument or facts because they generally rely on conspiratorial arguments and alternate facts. They strike me as a force that can only extinguish itself like a giant wildfire that burns up its own fuel sources.[5]

The question, then, is what’s to be done? This is the part I urge everyone to compose for themselves in their minds.

What follows is what I hope I can hold onto. I will never be beholden to a conspiracy theorist, nor will I take arms against my enemies, let alone my confused friends. If I were to die at the hands of angry, deluded “patriots,” my blood would be on their hands and, frankly, I’d be delivered from their company.

What I put before my own eyes and the eyes of readers, if any have made it this far, is a Civilian Manifesto:

Always and everywhere, assume that those who differ from you are also human, that they will never change as a result of your coercion, bullying, or mockery, nor will they be able to see things your way unless they’ve come a long way on their own to squaring with reality, assuming you have come a long way, too.

Never, ever, play the God card unless you “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

Never claim the name of Christ unless you claim the hope of dying in a manner such as his: without reciprocating violence.

If you resort to violence, count the cost. Remember that violence dissolves differences, and that you will soon look just like your enemy.

Finally, remember that words kill, too. There are words that wound and words that heal. Take the higher ground.

And here I close as King Lear:

The weight of this sad time we must obey,
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.
The oldest have borne most; we that are young
Shall never see so much, nor live so long. 

 

____Footnotes____

[1] I’ve heard 61 of 62 losses, but the Wikipedia article on the topic sets it at 52 of 56 with 2 cases in progress. Dice it how you will, the legal case against the 2020 Presidential election result is extremely weak. It is weakened by many judges and officials appointed by or as a result of Donald Trump who declare there is no legal merit in the charges.

[2] From “Most Republicans still falsely believe Trump’s stolen election claims. Here are some reasons why”. Other sites from Poynter might differ slightly, and they might leave the “falsely” out of the title, but what sounds like an accusation of stubborn ignorance to outsiders remains a badge of honor among the majority of Republicans.

[3] Jan. 6 outruns all other events, but there was also the attempted kidnapping of the Governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, interrupted on October 8, 2020 by the FBI. And, newsflash, the husband of Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Speaker of the House, was attacked this morning, the assailant shouting, “Where is Nancy?” The “where is Nancy” smacking of politically motivated violence against the person who publicly tore up President Trumps State of the Union Address.

[4] The number is taken from Imagine another American Civil War, but this time in every state, on the NPR web site. The same article stresses that in 2020, Trump won in 2,588 counties, while Biden won in only 551 counties, albeit some of the larger counties.

[5] None of what I write or think belies a liking for Democrats in general. Nor does it exonerate them from being at times scheming and corrupt. They, however, did not contest the 2016 Presidential election results. I will always side with opinions that bear the closest resemblance to reality.

Publishing Info

This post was first published on: Oct 29, 2022 at 21:13. If this article is significantly updated, the publication date beneath the title may change in order to bring current posts to the top of the directory.

Perfect Political Storm

We’ve got God on our side
We’re just trying to survive
What if what you do to survive
Kills the things you love
Fear’s a powerful thing, baby
It’ll turn your heart black you can trust
It’ll take your God filled soul
Fill it with devils and dust
          (Bruce Springsteen, “Devils & Dust”)

Update 1/6/21: the storm has broken. Early this afternoon, the House and the Senate were carrying out their 12th Amendment duty of counting the certified electoral votes. Thousands of protestors had gathered outside the Capitol to protest what President Trump frequently described as a fraudulent election, where he lost both the popular and the electoral vote. Around 2:20 p.m., protestors broke through metal barriers at the foot of the stairs to the Capitol. Police sprayed tear gas. Around 2:30 PM, a large number of protestors, some violent, some carrying weapons, forced their way into the Capitol. “Protesters could be seen marching through the Capitol’s stately Statuary Hall shouting and waving Trump banners and American flags” (Associated Press Timeline of events at the Capitol). The building was locked down, but not before one woman was fatally shot by the police. Three other people died from currently unspecified medical emergencies.[§] Congresspeople were eventually escorted out of the building. Around 8:30 p.m. the Senate resumed the electoral vote. Several Republicans withdrew their objections in light of the siege.

Update 7/26/22: the storm predicted below and outlined above was, indeed, worse than everything I imagined or documented thus far. The chant, “Kill Mike Pence,” which was tolerated by the Commander in Chief from the safety of the White House, epitomizes the gravity of the situation. Now that the Jan. 6 Hearings are underway, it is inconceivable that Donald Trump could be re-elected in 2024, but then this entire post is inconceivable before 2016.
My original post below overestimated the similarities between the parties and, to that extent, underestimated the anti-democratic actions of the President, as well as the anti-democratic and irrational response of the majority of Republicans among the United States Congress. Liz Cheney, Republican US Representative, Wyoming, has established non-partisan higher ground in the hearings, her role being as unimaginable to me as the violence that ensued on January 6.

(The following was published October 6, 2020)
For the first time, I’m doubting the general welfare of the US after an upcoming presidential election. In the past, the new or renewed president would be uncannily like his or her predecessor or opponent, and I knew there would be segments of our society, usually marked by their low incomes or stature, who would continue to suffer discrimination in various forms.[1] The losers might be bitter and the winners might gloat, but the fabric of society would remain the same for better and worse. Continue reading “Perfect Political Storm”

Christians and Conspiracy Theories

“Just because I’m paranoid,
doesn’t mean they are not after me”
We say this with a wink… and then glance over our shoulder

“Just because it’s a conspiracy theory,
doesn’t mean it’s not true”
We say this straight-faced… and then take another sip of Kool-Aid

This article’s focus is deliberately narrow: to explain to myself and perhaps to others how it is that so many politically and theologically conservative Christians entertain so many conspiracy theories. Following are a discussion of what’s so bad about Christians being conspiracy-theory prone, a definition of “conspiracy theory,” a short list of conspiracy-theory candidates, and a two-prong argument to explain the Christian proclivity.

The Christian Label and its Discontents

Several years ago I stopped calling myself a Christian, but not because I stopped believing in Jesus. On the contrary, I love Jesus but was being weighed down by the cultural and historical baggage of Christianity and the label “Christian” (which had lost its original meaning of “little Christ”). More than ever, I’m glad I no longer need defend the indefensible baggage many Christians tote around, one of the largest and most perplexing bags being the one packed with conspiracy theories.

That said, many of my friends do call themselves Christians and in varying degrees tote the conspiracy baggage. Many are untroubled by all this baggage and do an admirable job holding onto their faith in Jesus and being kind to their neighbor. While these Christians may be power lifters, they are doing a great injustice to the gospel with its commitment to truth. Continue reading “Christians and Conspiracy Theories”

Ranked Voting (or) Neither Presidential Candidate Gets My Vote

Currently in my country, about half the population lives in fear that President Trump will be re-elected in November (2020). What would surprise the people in my community, (Boulder County), is that about half the US population fears that Donald Trump will not be re-elected.

This post falls outside of these viewpoints and is by no means a declaration that either candidate will do. While many people are concerned about choosing the right person (from the limited choice of two—something the flip of a coin could determine), I’m concerned about the need for a better system for selecting presidential candidates. Continue reading “Ranked Voting (or) Neither Presidential Candidate Gets My Vote”

My Breakfast With Sue

As an unworthy follower of Jesus, I have many brothers and sisters, all over the world. A few days ago, I had breakfast with one such sister, whom I’ll call Sue.

Gallop Cafe, one of my favorite eateries in the Highlands in Denver.

Outside, one of my favorite places to eat, anywhere.

Conversation, always enjoyable with Sue, who converted to Catholicism several years ago, during the crest of the child-abuse allegations in the Boston area, a gutsy move on her part. Catholicism works with her: she takes what is meaningful and doesn’t worry about the rest. Continue reading “My Breakfast With Sue”

It’s Business, Not Personal (a dream)

So…I was assigned a spot in the rear of a jumbo jet airliner from where I would shoot the occupants of two designated seats, one at either side of the plane, several rows ahead of me.

But before explaining that situation, I want to consider the relation between wording and persuasion, asking, How does one separate elegant wording from misleading thinking? If something is pithy, doesn’t it also seem true—whether or not it is?

Throughout my adult life, I’ve shied away from justifying decisions with the convenient disclaimer that it is “business, not personal.” Perhaps in part, I’ve not needed the phrase because I’ve also shied away from business. Lately, however, as the encumbrances of career and property accrue, I find myself using the formula occasionally.

Continue reading “It’s Business, Not Personal (a dream)”