Let’s Talk About Civil War

I know no one wants to, but it’s happening, and if the non-extremists in this country don’t start paying attention it’ll be too late.

Now I know most of us think of our own Civil War as the model for how civil wars are supposed to be conducted:  2 separate armies, and battles over territory. In this model civil war is just another variation of war, which is strictly a military operation, almost always on a large scale, where gains and losses can be marked on maps.

But it’s 2022. The entire world has changed. New technology gave us cyberwarfare, which can’t be plotted on a map. We have propaganda wars conducted via social media where users exist in code that we say is in the ether—invisible, unifying, and universal. I think civil war can—and does–look different in 2022.

Abraham Lincoln’s United States was a young nation still knitting its ties together. Joe Biden’s United States is a country in crisis, with trust crumbling in our institutional bulwarks, and fewer and fewer ties that bind across a (deliberately) fractured culture.

I want to think about civil war in a new context that doesn’t involve organized military maneuvering because we’ve expanded the ways to seize power. In the 19th century, with no mass media, no forms of electric or electronic communication, the only way to seize power was to go to physical war with other armed people. In the 21st century, masses can be mobilized via propaganda to seize power by using the very tools which are supposed to protect us.

The extremists in this nation have been at work preparing the ground for this civil war via FOX, Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones, and now One America News. These outlets, and many others used simple propaganda approaches like tapping into emotion and repetition to convince a lot of people of an imaginary analysis.

Political extremists seized power by welcoming the efforts of an enemy nation to undermine our elections. I honestly fear we will never learn the full extent of what was done, who enabled it, and exactly what damage was done.

They also used untraceable and illegal—until they bought Citizens United via the Supreme Court—money to take over state legislatures to gerrymander districts. Those same political extremists also bought a Supreme Court that overthrew the Voting Rights Act, and then those same tainted state legislatures were free to attack the right to vote itself.

Before 1/6 the civil war was a cold war, with intermittent outbreaks for right wing extremist violence. The 1/6 insurrection flipped it to a hot war, and one fought with target harassment against multiple targets:  teachers, local school board members, trans adults and kids, election officials, etc. In addition, 60% percent of Americans will have an election denier on their November ballot, setting up future opportunities to unseat legally-elected Democrats.

I worry about what happens if right wing extremists win in November, and not just at the national level. I worry about what happens when right wing extremists use their access to the levers of power against the people who oppose them, even in the mildest ways.

I’m worried about it because that happened Tuesday here in West Virginia. A woman who had protested in the galleries at the state capitol was arrested and charged for her behavior. There’s a specific detail in this story that shows what is really at work:

Lindsey Jacobs, a 38-year-old lawyer from Morgantown, was arrested Friday and charged with three misdemeanors: obstructing an officer, willful disruption of governmental processes and disorderly conduct against “the peace and dignity of the state,” according to a copy of the arrest warrant that she shared with The Associated Press. Misdemeanor offenses come with a penalty of up to $500 and/or up to a year in jail for each conviction.

Jacobs, who runs advocacy programs for a nonprofit legal services organization, was removed from the House chamber’s gallery on Sept. 13 while listening to lawmakers discuss legislation — signed into law Sept. 16 by Republican Gov. Jim Justice — that bans abortion at all stages of pregnancy, with few exceptions. The day the ban was signed into law, a warrant went out for Jacob’s arrest.

I’ll let Jacobs say it best:

Stay safe, everyone.  I thought of this song because our media continues to fail us in complicated, turbulent times:


4 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Civil War

  1. The operative word here is putsch not a coup. And it will likely involve mob violence of the sort we see percolating outside of LGBT events in the sort we’ve seen outside of clinics for decades escalated. What the potential for a little bit of Northern Ireland style mayhem here and there.

    1. These actions keep happening, implicitly condoned, it seems, by leaderships at all levels, especially at the DOJ.

      The January 6 insurrection is only a few months away from another anniversary — another anniversary — without a single indictment for those in the planning and leading stages. Not one. This, in spite of the tons and tons of documented evidence they have been handed by folks from all sorts of walks of life.

      Investigations take time, sure, but at what point does taking time becomes stalling becomes obstruction becomes aiding and abetting? Even Representative Adam Schiff is getting fed up with Attorney General Garland’s silence. AG Garland writes very pretty aspirational speeches, his follow up actions though are m.i.a. As long as that keeps happening, those pushing civil war will keep pushing.

  2. Did Jacobs do anything? Express her displeasure, throw something, hit a security officer, anything?

    1. she yelled comments as a delegate was speaking. security went to remove her, she went limp and capitol police carried her outside and let her go. her removal trended on social media which may have sparked the arrest warrant. she lives several hours from Charleston and was arrested in her home over a week after the hearing. the WV legislature is run by right wing extremist thugs. Wisconsin gets a lot of coverage, but WV is decidedly worse.

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