A new civil war? Some predict one is coming

We heard talk at the public comment meeting before the board of supervisors earlier this month about the need for a "militia" and a promise to actively resist any attempt from the new Democratically-controlled Virginia government to enact measures on gun control.
Eddie Rohwer, a vendor at Trumpstock, a three-day festival in northwest Arizona.(Photo by Bethany Mollenkoff for The New York Times)

You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it’s evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world

You say you’ll change the constitution
Well, you know
We all want to change your head
You tell me it’s the institution
Well, you know
You better free your mind instead

John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote those lyrics for the Beatles song: Revolution in 1968,  51 years ago, but they should be educational now when you consider the talk about revolution and the coming civil war promoted by those who demand that America re-elect their white supremacist hope, Donald John Trump, to another term as president.

At a recent gathering of white supremacists, white nationalists and outright racists at “Trumpstock” in Arizona, Mark Villalta said openly he is stockpiling firearms “in case Mr. Trump’s re-election is not successful.”

“Nothing less than a civil war would happen,” he told The New York Times. “I don’t believe in violence but I’ll do what I got to do.”

Speakers at Trumpstock included hard-core right-wing activists from the East Coast, including one from North Carolina who boasted of his hatred of Muslims.

“I will kill every one of them before they get to me,” he added.

“They label us white nationalists or white supremacists,” claims Guy Taiho Decker, who has a criminal record of arrests for making terrorist threats.

“There’s no such thing as a white supremacist, just like there’s no such thing as unicorns,” he says. “We’re patriots.”

Patriots. We hear that claim often here in Floyd County, often from those who sport firearms on their hips. We heard talk at the public comment meeting before the board of supervisors earlier this month about the need for a “militia” and a promise to actively resist any attempt from the new Democratically-controlled Virginia government to enact measures on gun control.

“Armed resistance” is one of the “needs” they claim is their right as part of a resolution to establish Floyd County as a “Second Amendment Sanctuary.” The resolution that the supervisors passed unanimously is not worth the cost of the paper it was printed on, says Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring and other legal experts.

“These resolutions have no legal force, and they’re just part of an effort by the gun lobby to stoke fear,” Herring says. “Neither local governments nor local constitutional officers have the authority to declare state statutes unconstitutional or decline to follow them on that basis.”

I saw three men in Food Lion this week with their semi-automatics on their belts. Not one was a county law enforcement officer.

In a conversation with another county resident, he said he is expressing his opposition to plans by the Democrats to “take away our guns.”

“I’d like to see one of them try,” he said as his hand caressed the butt of his pistol.

Like many legal owners of firearms in Floyd County and Virginia, I have a concealed carry permit. I sometimes have a weapon on me when I feel the need to carry one or when I drive down to Roanoke for my quarterly gun range visits to keep my marksmanship up to par, but I have not felt the need to carry openly for a trip to the grocery store or a stop for coffee in downtown Floyd.

I’m 72 years old. A mugger with a straight razor tried to rob me at an ATM in Washington DC back in the 1980s.  He went to the hospital with a broken arm and fractured jaw. I didn’t need a gun to resist a criminal. He went to jail for his crime. A young gang member with an attitude called my wife names at a food court in Arlington a few years later. He took his nourishment through a straw for a few months afterward. He also went before a juvenile court for judgment. No gun needed.

In both cases, however, an assistant district attorney in Washington and an assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney in Arlington called me on the carpet for using violence to resist in both attacks.

Not long after moving to Floyd, a man who didn’t like something I wrote about failed vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin confronted me in front of the Blue Ridge Restaurant one morning. He took a swing. He missed. I didn’t. I haven’t seen him since.

I was a man with anger management problems in my younger years. I had to deal with them at the same time I had to deal with alcoholism. I work every day to keep my temper under control and my wife says I’m doing much better than the old days.

I don’t believe in violence. In most cases now, I walk away.

Violence is too much a part of the lives of too many of us. I’ve seen violence. I’ve been part of it. I’ve covered it as a reporter. It seldom, if ever, solves anything.

Yet America today has a president who incites violence by his rhetoric and his actions. Dylan Root, the white supremacist who gunned down nine African Americans during Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC, on June 17, 2015, cited Trump’s words in his manifesto.  So did Patrick Crusius of Dallas before driving to El Paso to kill 20 people at a Walmart because of the president’s rhetoric about Hispanic immigrants in August of this year

A nationwide review by ABC News in August identified “at least 36 criminal cases where Trump was invoked in direct connection with violent acts, threats of violence or allegations of assault.”  Seven of those cases involved people upset with Trump but the other 29 came from those who supported his words and his actions

“Any public figure could have the effect of inspiring people,” FBI Director Chris Wray told a Senate panel in July.

Yes, but most public figures attempt to.avoid inflammatory rhetoric.

Not Trump.

Sadly, Not too many of his followers.

Martin Luther King Jr. promoted non-violence in his civil rights efforts but died at the hands of a violent shooter. His words should be remembered and taken to heart:

Violence never really deals with the basic evil of the situation. Violence may murder the murderer, but it doesn’t murder murder. Violence may murder the liar, but it doesn’t murder lie; it doesn’t establish truth. Violence may even murder the dishonest man, but it doesn’t murder dishonesty. Violence may go to the point of murdering the hater, but it doesn’t murder hate. It may increase hate. It is always a descending spiral leading nowhere. This is the ultimate weakness of violence: It multiplies evil and violence in the universe. It doesn’t solve any problems.

Amen.

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