With his continuing divisive rhetoric and appeals to the far right, Donald Trump is causing a modern day civil war, one that some fear could see our nation descend into fascism.
The war isn't with opposing armies in grey and blue squaring off with muskets and bayonets and fighting over slavery, but rather with red hatted Trump supporters who still cling to those beliefs of White superiority and racial hatred. They are views spawned by Trump, their hero president. They take his every word, lies and all, as gospel clashing with, and even killing, fellow Americans who believe differently -- including those who support the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and believe systemic racial injustice must be ended.
"We're going to be at war with each other if this keeps up," a friend commented yesterday.
The signs are all around us, with unarmed Black civilians being shot, paralyzed and killed by White police officers and the resulting racial unrest in such cities as Portland, OR and Kenosha, WS, with other racially inspired murders the result.
The latest, example, of course, is the killing of two men and wounding of a third by 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse brandishing an AR-15 style rifle in Kenosha during protests that followed the police shooting an unarmed Black suspect, Jacob Blake, seven times in the back. (Video above.)
Trump continues the rhetoric and division, refusing to condemn the Rittenhouse shootings and falsely accusing BLM of spawning violence in the ongoing racial protests. He continues to attack Portland's mayor, Ted Wheeler, calling him a fool, tweeting on August 30 the following:
"Ted Wheeler, the wacky Radical Left Do Nothing Democrat Mayor of Portland, who has watched great death and destruction of his City during his tenure, thinks this lawless situation should go on forever. Wrong! Portland will never recover with a fool for a Mayor...."
Wheeler then responded, saying Trump was encouraging the type of violence that his city was experiencing.
“What America needs is for you to be stopped,” he declared.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden condemned the violence in the city, but said Trump was guilty of "recklessly encouraging" it. Trump? He accuses Biden of wanting to defund the police, which he doesn't, and of blaming police for violence instead of "anarchists, agitators, and looters."
All of that shows no signs of abating. The divisions show up everywhere, on social media where rhetoric on both sides is heated and often abusive, in the shopping centers and grocery stories, where people wearing masks call out those who don't, who say they are defending their liberty, to the airwaves, where fake news often thrives, to practically every aspect of our lives.
Hate thrives. Division and discord prosper. And Donald Trump cheers it on.
Many of the incidents seem to be fueled, or at least worsened, by Trump rhetoric, much of which includes outright lies. In fact, CNN reported that his nomination acceptance speech included at least 21 falsehoods and misstatements, many of which are intended to whip up his supporters. That, of course, was only the tip of the iceberg of Trump's lies, which number more than 20,000 since his election, according to The Washington Post.
“My biggest takeaway of the last four years is probably realizing the extent to which big chunks of America are living in a different universe of news/facts with basically no shared reality,” wrote Charlie Warzel in the New York Times last week.
And so, over these next few weeks until the November 3 election, we can only hope that hate and divisiveness can be curtailed, that some semblance of sanity can prevail until those votes are cast as the electorate decides whether our democracy will be preserved or whether America, indeed, will descend into fascism.