Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters
Right-wing figures online are now toying with the ultimate act of resistance against Joe Biden's win over Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election: secession and civil war. The idea has picked up steam in the past few days, thanks to a boost it got from talk radio host and Medal of Freedom recipient Rush Limbaugh.
Limbaugh made waves on Wednesday when he said, "I actually think that we're trending toward secession." I see more and more people asking what in the world do we have in common with the people who live in, say, New York?"
Limbaugh also added: "I see a lot of bloggers ... have written extensively about how distant and separated and how much more separated our culture is becoming politically and that it can't go on this way. " There cannot be a peaceful coexistence of two completely different theories of life, theories of government, theories of how we manage our affairs. We can't be in this dire a conflict without something giving somewhere along the way."
But after Limbaugh's comment gained media attention, he claimed on Thursday that he was not in any sense advocating for secession or civil war. Rather, he said, he was just describing something that he'd been hearing about from others, because of how divided the country is.
"So, if any of you have been caught up in all this — if you get in a Twitter war and this and that and the other thing — I simply referenced what I have seen other people say," he said, "about how we are incompatible as currently divided, and that secession is something that people are speculating about.
"I am not advocating it, have not advocated it, never have advocated it, and probably wouldn't — that's not — 32 years, that's not the way I've decided to go about handling disagreements with people on the left. I just think they need to be beaten. They need to be defeated. How many times, over and over? They need to be defeated and in more than one election."
Despite his protestations of abjuring political violence, however, Limbaugh earlier this week had cheered on the presence of an armed mob outside the home of Michigan's Democratic secretary of state.
On Friday, conservative commentator Ben Shapiro followed up on Limbaugh's spin by brushing off any concerns about violent civil unrest — but also saying that Limbaugh had a point. The differences in American culture have become irreconcilable, Shapiro said, claiming, "Many members of the radical left … have such a bizarre vision of the United States that it is mutually exclusive with traditional visions of how the United States is supposed to work."
BEN SHAPIRO (HOST): The world of commentary exploded yesterday. Why? Well, because Rush Limbaugh on his show was talking about the fact that we have a massive culture gap in the country.
Now, this is obviously, obviously, true. It is obviously true that there is a massive culture gap between the left and the right. It is also obviously true that there are many members of the radical left who have such a bizarre vision of the United States that it is mutually exclusive with traditional visions of how the United States is supposed to work. And if you have a country where people have fundamentally different conceptions of words like "freedom" and "justice," where you have completely different notions of what constitutes virtue and vice, it's going to be very difficult for those people to live together.
The only way that you can have people live together, who disagree about these sorts of things, is to basically say that the government should not be cramming down its particular vision on anybody — that the government should be small.
Shapiro then claimed that progressives have a "fevered hatred for the folks on the right" that has driven secessionist talk and national cultural divisions. To pretend otherwise, according to Shapiro, is to ignore the left's purported dominance of the culture and the media, including Hollywood, and the fact that "the folks in the university system have created their own religion of wokeism."
Limbaugh and Shapiro have attempted to downplay any talk of literal civil war and to flip the script back on progressives for supposedly being the divisive ones. But while they've been doing that, a number of other right-wing personalities appear to be actually on board with it in literal terms.
YouTube host Daniel Keem chimed in Thursday night, for example. "Civil War is coming," Keem tweeted, also adding, "And it will turn into a world war." Podcaster Chad Prather also posted on Facebook: "I'm all for secession. What say you?"
Right-wing radio personality Wayne Allyn Root also responded Friday to a news article about Limbaugh's original comment and voiced his agreement.
I agree 100%. "Secession" isn't bad word. Its PEACEFUL way 2 avoid revolution, or civil war. The things 74 MM conse… https://t.co/Y4w9OOkFGF— Wayne Allyn Root (@Wayne Allyn Root) 1607704395.0
Far-right blogger Pamela Geller also posted Friday on the ongoing Republican-backed lawsuit to throw out the election results in four swing states that voted for Biden — and she began on a very dramatic note.
"Civil war," Geller wrote. "Democrats haven't realized it yet, but this is where we plant our flag. They will not steal and destroy our great nation."
Secession talk is also boiling up in the far-right corners of the online right-wing echo chamber. A 4chan message board thread was posted Thursday night, titled "Honest question for Trump supporters," asking the question, "If SCOTUS doesn't decide to hear this TX lawsuit tomorrow, what do you think the next move is?" Assorted responses include: "Secede. We should have split decades ago"; "2nd amendment solution"; "Martial law or civil war"; and "if Trump starts a civil war, I'll jump on the trump train."
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