From 1861 until 1865 this country was torn apart on the issue of slavery. The soldiers of the north wore blue and the soldiers of the south wore gray. This civil war sometimes pitted brother against brother. This conflict resulted in over 700,000 deaths; 375,000 of the blues and 325,000 of the grays. Major battles were fought at Shiloh, Antietam, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg and Vicksburg. The leaders of the north included U.S. Grant, George McClellan, and William T. Sherman. The south was led by Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, J.E.B. Stewart and James Longstreet.
Today this country is being ripped apart by another Civil War. The COVID-19 Civil War. The issue this time is not slavery but a virus. The COVID-19 virus. This COVID-19 virus is again dividing families, friends, and neighbors. The armies now are political parties. Today’s battles are being fought in New York City, Miami Florida, Houston Texas, and Los Angeles California.
This division is leading to a dark place. A recent Georgetown University poll asked how close the country is to the “edge of civil war”—with 0 being not close at all and 100 being at the edge. Americans say we’re at 67.23. So, two-thirds of the way to internecine bloodshed. We are starting to see this with the recent clashes in Portland Oregon and Seattle Washington. In late September Trump tweeted a quote from a pastor warning that if he’s removed from office it will cause “a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal.” Is this what the American public wants?
The Union armies of the north were originally led by George McClellan. Lincoln famously said of him that he “had a case of the slows”, because of his reluctance to engage the enemy in battle. Today we have a leader who is reluctance to even recognize the enemy. He has his own case of the “slows.” He declared he was a “War Time President,” but at the first sign of defeat he left the battlefield. To him the virus was a sinister plot developed by the Democrats to prevent him from being elected. Then he misleads the nation by claiming that it would magically disappear. This has resulted in a disastrous health crisis that has tragically led to the unnecessary deaths that could have been prevented had he acted earlier.
In the Civil War the battle of Manassas (First Bull Run) the Union was so sure of victory that families brought picnic lunches to watch the battle. At the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis citizens were so certain that COVID-19 was “just like the flu” that they continued to go to work and socialize as always.
Again, people are being ripped into angry communities by the simple request to wear a mask.
The toll so far this time is reaching 150,000. The Covid-19 pandemic that is fueling America’s COVID19 civil war already has felled more Americans than the Vietnam War (58,200), the First World War (53,402), the Korean War (36,574), the 2003 Iraq conflict (4,431) and the Afghanistan misadventure, the longest armed conflict in American history (2,445).
The US Civil War soldiers had rather crude weapons like muskets, which had to be refilled frequently, and bayonets. The COVID-19 Civil War is anything but crude: indifference, bitterness, grievance and old-fashioned hate.
When will this war end? After how many deaths? After how many PREVENTABLE deaths? How long will reconstruction last? Will this country ever return to its greatness or will we allow this president to run this country into the ground to the point we can never recover.
This president clearly is willing — eager, even as he seems ready to do anything to stay in power — to fan the flames of this growing divide.