Divided States of America
It’s getting bad. Real bad.
Weapons-toting, right-wing agitators have taken it upon themselves to confront left-leaning individuals protesting racial injustice and police brutality this week, and the results have been as tragic as they were predictable. Three people have been shot and killed in two separate cities in the span of five days.
Tuesday night, a 17-year-old boy from Illinois shot three people in Kenosha, Wis., after his own mother drove him across state lines to ostensibly protect the city from marauders. Two of his victims, Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, were killed. The shooter, Kyle Rittenhouse, is now jailed and facing murder charges.
Saturday night, another man was shot in killed in downtown Portland, Ore., following an afternoon and evening of clashes between pro-Trump and Black Lives Matter demonstrators. Earlier in the day, the pro-Trump protesters were recorded firing paintballs and pepper-spray at the Black Lives Matter demonstrators. The victim in this case appeared to be a member of the right-wing group Patriot Prayer.
Meanwhile, police in Washington, D.C., were recorded clashing with demonstrators blocks away from the White House.
From the East Coast to the West Coast to the Midwest, we are a nation that appears, for all intents and purposes, on the brink of Civil War. It’s difficult to imagine a scenario in which this situation doesn’t continue to deteriorate, because it is what our president wants.
Tensions are always high in the weeks and months leading up to a presidential election, but people generally don’t get murdered over our political differences. That’s what’s happening now.
We are currently seeing the embers of an emerging conflict, but those sparks could soon ignite into a raging conflagration as a result of a reckless president who seems intent on stoking the flames. Donald Trump is actively and irresponsibly inciting the violence, because he thinks it’s good for his campaign.
Our deep political divisions did not begin with Donald Trump. The great Republican-Democrat divide emerged during the latter years of the George W. Bush administration, and we became hopelessly entrenched during the eight years of Barack Obama’s presidency.
Fox News was the main culprit during that stretch, but the days of its hosts inveighing against Obama for wearing a tan suit now seem quaint. Trump sycophant Tucker Carlson practically praised Rittenhouse this week, and a conservative student group at Arizona State University is even raising money for his defense.
And all that is tame compared to the hate and disinformation that other right-wing outlets, such as One America News Network, Breitbart and InfoWars, deliver to their clients. These organizations have no ethical journalistic standards and are frequently passing off nonsense and lies as legitimate news. They are then, in turn, aided by social media, which is supercharging the bullshit.
Donald Trump’s new campaign mantra is that nobody will be safe in Joe Biden’s America, as if all the violence we are seeing this week hasn’t been the direct result of his armed supporters confronting demonstrators. Trump seems to have convinced his people that they need to assist our nation’s paramilitary police forces in the form of armed street gangs.
In Kenosha, it appeared an overwhelmed police force actually welcomed the assistance. Moments after an armed Rittenhouse murdered two protesters, he walked straight past the police with his hands in the air, seemingly giving himself up, and the cops just let him walk on by. Their handling of him stood in stark contrast to the way they shot unarmed Jacob Blake in the back seven times in front of that man’s children.
Since Americans began protesting in the spring, right-wing demonstrators have seen an abundance of restraint, while left-wing protesters repeatedly get gassed and beaten. Now, armed militias are being encouraged to take up the fight, with the backing of the President of the United States.
This can’t end well.