The Planted Row: The consequences of disrespect
This week I happened across a podcast titled “It Could Happen Here,” created by journalist Robert Evans, who has covered conflicts in Ukraine and Iraq. He recorded the podcast to address the possibility of a second American Civil War.
Evans consults with ex-federal agents, military officers and civil war experts. (None of them considers such a war an impossibility.) He also draws upon academic research, studies, his experience in war zones in the Middle East and interviews conducted with successful revolutionary fighters. He uses all of this information to try to predict how a civil war might get started and what it might look like.
Evans says that people who think it could never happen are people who are thinking of the last civil war — two clearly defined sides, two separate armies facing each other.
That, he says, is not what war looks like anymore.
I should point out now that Evans recorded the podcast more than a year ago.
He says that when the next civil war starts, it will start as a protest preceded by a major economic downturn. It will likely be in the summer, because that’s when most large protests happen. Temperatures and tempers alike will be hot. The police, out of either fear or anger, will fire their less-than-lethal rounds directly at the heads of “black-clad” protesters “in masks.” Several people will be severely injured or killed.
The outrage will lead to wider spread protests throughout the country, leading to violence and provoking more violent responses from law enforcement.
Starting to sound familiar?
The recent civil war in Syria started the same way, and Evans thinks that a civil war here would look much like that one.
There would be many different factions, and violence would be happening in too many places for the military to be able to handle all of it. He also points out how rebels in cities could hold back our modern military in urban areas, at least, using simple but effective techniques — as fighters have done in Iraq and Afghanistan. (His descriptions of over-the-counter hobby drones being turned into weapons are terrifying.)
I’m writing about this podcast to mention something Evans says precedes much of the violence that could happen here — the dehumanization of our political opponents. He points out how people on both the right and left sides of the political spectrum describe their opposites in less than human terms — commies, fascists, snowflakes, thugs, animals, monsters, etc. We use terms like these to speak about the people who disagree with us.
Seeing them as something other than human is the first step in convincing ourselves that it’s OK to kill our fellow citizens.
From what I see on social media (even from people here in Aberdeen), I think this problem is only getting worse. We’re screaming at each other without remembering that everyone deserves to be treated with a basic level of dignity and respect.
We cannot allow ourselves to forget the humanity of our political opponents. They might be wrong, but most of them are good people, and we need to help them, too.
If we fail to do so, the consequences will be more than we can bear.