Thankfully most people don’t take Facebook comments on politics too seriously, otherwise they would actually start putting their money where their mouths are. Still, the thirst for blood within our own borders is quite disturbing. Keyboard warriors that may or may not have once been real warriors are describing their (albeit fantastical) desires for a civil war; what they see as an inevitable conclusion to the widening divide through the heart of America, and they meet it with a “bring it on” attitude.
The fantasy of the violent far right:
You’re an ex-soldier and the violence bubbles up to the point of no return–mass rioting finds its way into the streets of every major city. You unpack your guns, find your fellow brothers in arms, weld a machine gun to your truck and blast through the streets. People will die, sure, but you’re more prepared and well armed than these bleeding heart liberals and thugs. You’ve got active and retired military on your side, they’ve got skinny jeans and gangbangers. Bullets rip through real men, let alone snowflakes.
Your truck takes several rounds to the engine block, so you grab your tricked out M4 and start heading into the belly of the beast. You need to make it to a rally point with your friends, but leftist militants are perusing the streets. You drop one with little effort, circle a corner and drop two more. They struggle with their weapons as you lay into them with relative ease and expertise. Faceless soldiers in a pathetic army.
Once you meet up with your old Army buddies, you hole up until the war is won and the liberal mindset is brought down a few pegs as many of them are killed or flee with their lives—they never really stood a chance. Not against the might of the patriots.
The fantasy of the violent far left:
You’re a champion of the weak, a defender of the oppressed. You wanted to live your life in peace, but when your neighbor is suffering at the hands of the greedy and the sadistic, you have no choice but to rise up against the powers that be.
You are a part of a revolution, a movement in the purest sense of the word. You learn how to use weapons, weapons that are a means to an end. The enemy is powerful, but they’re either stormtroopers or brainless rednecks. Faceless soldiers in a pathetic army.
You join the rioting as the people have said “enough” and though many will die, it’s for a greater good. Even if that means your own life.
In your particular riot, old broken soldiers toting confederate and Nazi flags roll around in their beat up pickup trucks. You fire several rounds into one truck, disabling it. Your friend, once just an unknown face down the hall in your apartment complex, has now become your brother in arms and fights alongside you. You are brothers fighting against tyranny.
The two of you cut through Nazi soldiers, but your friend takes a bullet to the chest and is dead within minutes. Tears fall down your cheeks for the slain hero, but you carry on. You carry on because you’re strong enough and the people need you to keep fighting. Besides, they can never stand a chance against true believers and that’s what will win the war. Not a bunch of broken old men with hunting rifles.
But of course, war is never that simple. For either sides.
The reality of the violent far right:
You’re an ex-soldier and you’re ready for war. The rioting has boiled over and is out of control, and you’re ready. You’ve maintained your weapons, you’ve maintained your training. You’ve set up a rally point with your old Army buddies and you’re about to head that way.
The phones aren’t quite down yet, though you figure it’s only a matter of time and the phone in your pocket begins to ring.
You always made fun of your little brother for wearing those skinny jeans. Him and his stupid liberal posts on Facebook. But he was never really a believer in any of that, in fact he had enlisted and was set to ship off to the Navy in three months.
He’s dead now. Shot in the streets around the corner when he was mistaken for a leftist aggressor, when in reality he was just trying to make his way home.
You know who’s responsible, so you drive down to their house and shoot them in the head. One of their sons is nearby, barely 14, and he picks up his father’s hunting rifle. You have no choice but to shoot him too. They were a part of the right-wing movement, they just happened to be assholes.
Now the conservative side has branded you a traitor. While you were away, they send someone to your house, and your wife naturally tries to defend herself. They shoot her in the dining room next to that table you built together. You come home to find her face has been torn apart.
The reality of the violent far left:
You joined the riots, a reluctant freedom fighter who heard the voices of the oppressed. You ran out into the streets alongside your brothers and sisters in a fight for the humanity of America. Several men wearing Nazi memorabilia come out as you expected, guns in hand and anger deeply rooted in their hearts. They start shooting first, using a crowd of unarmed people as incidental cover.
You aren’t new to shooting. You’ve smirked at the endless Facebook posts about libtards who have never handled a gun. They have no idea that you grew up a hunter and were handling guns before most of these men had ever touched one.
You don’t want to hit anyone in the crowd, but you’re confident in your abilities as a marksman. You take aim and fire.
The round hits the first Nazi sympathizer dead in the chest, just as expected–but the round ricochets off his bone. As he falls lifeless to the ground, the bullet exits his body and into the head of a nearby child. You didn’t realize rounds could ricochet off of bones and retain that kind of velocity.
The man behind you saw you shoot and saw the child hit the ground. He hits you with the butt of his rifle–lights out.
They were the only two you killed that day. You returned home after the fighting died down to find that your apartment complex had been burned to the ground with your wife in it. Several of the violent right had been holed up in there; in the ensuing firefight your fellow uprisers had no choice but to light the building on fire in an attempt to smoke them out. They thought the apartment complex was empty, as they had knocked on the other doors first. Many were just too scared to respond.
If you read that and thought, “I don’t have a brother or a wife” or “I don’t live in an apartment complex,” then you’re missing the point. War is complicated, heart breaking and when you’re fighting your neighbor it will certainly not go the way you want it to. It finds creative ways to break your soul into a thousand pieces. It will destroy the fabric of this nation, and though I believe we’d make it through, we would have to build from the ground up. On top of the ashes of your family.
416,000 American soldiers were killed in World War II. By new estimates, 750,000 Americans were killed in the Civil War. More men died as prisoners of war than died in the entire Vietnam war. That’s not dying from a quick bullet on the field of battle, that’s dying from torture, exposure or some other form of brutality as a prisoner.
One in four soldiers never came home from the first American Civil War and it averaged 420 deaths every single day.
I get it, the inner soldier in me has a deep-seated desire for meaningful adventure, where life is on the line and you have the clear purpose of fighting for something you believe in. But realistically, any push for this fate of our country is a push all of this happening to your friends. To your family.
The “they started it” or “I just don’t see any other way” arguments are unimaginative and childish. We ought to be servants of our country, finding ways out of conflicts like this, instead of reactive drones who hold no personal responsibility for the future of our home. My great great great Grandfather fought in the Civil War when he was 15. I can’t imagine wishing any kind of war on 15 year-olds simply for some shortsighted desire for violence.
Are we realistically on the verge of another civil war? I don’t think so, but we can either push in that direction or we can pull against it.
All images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons