Tensions are running high in America as social and political forces collide, sometimes forcefully, and sometimes in the streets. Political polarization in America has been closely studied over the last several decades and while the large-scale impact of social media, which has only risen to prominence in perhaps the last five years, is still being understood it is clear the advent of advanced communications technologies is placing additional stressors on the fabric of society. We have no reached a point where many openly talk about acts of political violence and even civil war.
In a recent essay written by Hamilton Nolan, he angrily described many real and perceived injustices that have occurred during the Trump administration and outlined how the backlash will go far beyond heckling political appointees at restaurants:
These people, who are pushing America merrily down the road to fascism and white nationalism, are delusional if they do not think that the backlash is going to get much worse. Wait until the recession comes. Wait until Trump starts a war. Wait until the racism this administration is stoking begins to explode into violence more frequently. Read a fucking history book. Read a recent history book. The U.S. had thousands of domestic bombings per year in the early 1970s. This is what happens when citizens decide en masse that their political system is corrupt, racist, and unresponsive.
On the other side of the coin, alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos has been responding to journalists (via text) asking for his comment as follows, “I can’t wait for the vigilante squads to start gunning journalists down on sight.” Such yearning for political violence from the far right is not isolated as we can also recall an advertisement from a Florida based gun company that displayed a handful of black-clad “patriots” with AR-15s standing up to Antifa protesters.