A second American Civil War has already begun, as evidenced by the recent experiences of Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Kirstjen Nielsen, USA Today writer Glenn Harlan Reynolds opines in a Monday column.
As you probably already know, two Trump administration officials had rough weeks last weeks. Department of Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was twice bombarded with protests. The first was at a Washington, DC, Mexican restaurant, where members of a DC-area protest group interrupted her dinner by shouting “Shame!” and chanting chants at her and her security detail. That was followed by protesters showing up at her DC-area townhouse to blast audio of immigrant children crying as they were separated from their parents. Sanders, meanwhile, was kicked out of a restaurant by the manager, who cited “moral grounds” in refusing to serve her.
All of this is evidence of what Glenn Reynolds calls a “soft Civil War.” Just substitute the Blue & Gray of the first Civil War for the Blue & Red of the current political map.
“Americans are already sorting themselves into communities that are predominantly red or blue… [What happened to Sanders] seems like a small thing, but it would have been largely unthinkable a generation ago.”
Reynolds says that one reason for the current “soft Civil War” at once transcends and precedes the Trump administration. A few generations ago, Americans spent much more time with each other – at church, at neighborhood functions, at fraternal organizations such as the Elks. Those community-building opportunities crossed political lines, lessening the divide – at least, in our minds – between those of Our Party and those of The Other Party.
“The rules of bourgeois civility also helped keep things in check, but of course those rules have been shredded for years. We may come to miss them.”
What’s more, says Reynolds, the TV and movie industries, which almost universally lean more towards the Left, has already itself become a showcase for “the Resistance.”
So will the current “soft Civil War” become a “hard” one? By some measures, it already has. You may recall that, last August, Charlottesville was the scene of what can only be described as a “skirmish,” a skirmish which left one woman dead. And a year before that, Congressman Steve Scalise was shot by an idealist with opposing views.
For Reynolds, he hopes that the current generation of Americans will learn from the mistakes of 1861-1865.
“America had one disastrous civil war, and those who fought it did a surprisingly good job of coming together afterward, realizing how awful it was to have a political divide that set brother against brother. Let us hope that we will not have to learn that lesson again in a similar fashion.”