From the Washington Monthly: “Studies suggest that a growing number of Americans think political violence is acceptable. In a January poll, researchers found that 56 percent of Republicans believe that “the traditional American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it.”
America’s Next Insurgency
The January 6 violence could signal the start of nationwide conflict not seen since the Civil War. Can we stop it?
“…The present United States may be more polarized than it has been at any time since the 1850s. Large swaths of the population simply refuse to accept the election of political opponents as legitimate. Many of the social issues that divide us, in particular questions of systemic discrimination, stem from slavery.
Most frighteningly, research suggests that a growing number of Americans believe that political violence is acceptable. In a 2017 survey by the political scientists Lilliana Mason and Nathan Kalmoe, 18 percent of Democrats and 12 percent of Republicans said that violence would be at least a little justified if the opposing party won the presidency. In February 2021, those numbers increased to 20 percent and 28 percent, respectively. Other researchers have found an even bigger appetite for extreme activity. In a January poll conducted by the American Enterprise Institute, researchers asked respondents whether “the traditional American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it.” Thirty-six percent of Americans, and an astounding 56 percent of Republicans, said yes.”
All of this raises a serious question: Could the United States experience prolonged, acute civil violence?
According to dozens of interviews with former and current government officials, counterterrorism researchers, and political scientists who study both the U.S. and other countries, the answer is yes. “I think that the conditions are pretty clearly headed in that direction,” says Katrina Mulligan, the managing director for national security and international policy at the Center for American Progress and the former director for preparedness and response in the national security division at the Department of Justice (DOJ). The insurrection on “January 6 was a canary in the coal mine in a way, precisely because it wasn’t a surprise to those of us who have been following this.”
“Unfortunately, I think it’s a heightened risk,” Janet Napolitano, the former secretary of homeland security, told me. As evidence, she cited the Capitol attack, as well as “the rhetoric that’s being exchanged on social media, and just the number of groups out there that are organized and don’t seem reticent about using violence.”
Scholars of conflict differed in their estimates of how much violence might erupt, from sporadic terrorist attacks to a sustained insurgency. Individual assaults could be successfully handled by local and state police, but they could also easily escalate into a broader conflagration requiring federal involvement and inspiring copycat attacks. Experts also listed a wide range of potential targets, from Democratic politicians and institutions affiliated with minority groups to city halls and state government buildings.
Then the article breathlessly blames right wing conservative radical extremists for the violence, real and imagined and potential. Strangely, it’s not posting online that scares them, or venting in alternative social media echo chambers. Weird.
Mason and Kalmoe’s research suggests that tens of millions of Americans view political violence as acceptable. This doesn’t mean that tens of millions of people are willing to commit violence themselves. But they don’t need to be. According to The New York Times, between 15,000 and 20,000 Americans belong to militias. If there’s at least tacit outside backing, that’s more than enough potential actors. “These groups are in the hundreds, and membership is in the five digits,” says Linda Robinson, a longtime foreign correspondent covering the Middle East and the director of the center for Middle East public policy at the RAND Corporation. “This puts it up at a parallel with some of the more significant armed insurgencies in other countries that many of us have spent years studying.”
The lengthy article goes on to conclude that a very real insurgency against globohomo could happen, and reveals that leftists fear that confrontation and are planning on how to circumvent it. Memetic warfare was just foreplay. The age of internet activism is drawing to a close, and they feel the breath of Balk Right 2.0 on the back of their necks.