On Friday afternoon, a British member of Parliament was stabbed to death as he met with constituents in southeast England, as my colleague Jennifer Oliver O’Connell wrote. David Amess, a conservative member of the House of Commons was viciously murdered in the town of Leigh-on-Sea, which is located about 40 miles east of London.
Reuters reported that the Metropolitan Police’s counter-terrorism unit announced that the stabbing was an act of terrorism, and that investigators found a “potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism.”
A 25-year-old British national of Somalian descent was arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder. No further details on the incident have yet been released.
On the latest episode of the Red & Black Show, we discussed the subject of political violence and speculated as to if a situation like the murder of David Amess could happen in the United States, given the current political environment. While Amess’ assailant appears to have been motivated by adherence to radical Islamic ideology, there have been no small amount of examples demonstrating that Americans might see more of this type of violence on our soil in the not-so-distant future.
Indeed, many have predicted that a second civil war will break out in the United States, with leftists and conservatives taking up arms against one another. A few even seem to hope this scenario occurs. Others have suggested having a national divorce as a way to split the nation up without bloodshed.
A shooting war between Americans is unlikely. However, as RedState’s Brandon Morse points out:
You might not hear gunfire, you may never see soldiers marching into cities. You may, but this isn’t your typical civil war. This is a civil war where your defeat won’t be signaled by white flags or thousands dead. You’ll know you’ve lost when one day you wake up and you live in a socialist state wondering where the America you know had gone. You’ll wonder where the transition happened and you won’t be able to remember a key moment.
However, the fact that a hot civil war isn’t likely to materialize does not mean that violence will not be an issue. In fact, it is very possible that politically motivated violence will start becoming more prevalent in American society, if nothing happens to ease tensions between the left and the right.
It is already headed in that direction.
Only a few years ago, a man who worked on Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)’s campaign attempted to murder a group of Republican lawmakers during baseball practice. The shooter wounded House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) but fortunately, nobody except the gunman was killed in the assault.
Even the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in acts of violence over restrictions. People have been killed over disputes over mask mandates. On June 14, a man shot and killed a cashier working at a supermarket and wounded a sheriff’s deputy, because he was asked to wear a mask. On February 26, another man fatally shot a Tulane University police officer working at a high school basketball game because he was not allowed to attend a football game without a mask.
There are several other examples of these incidents occurring. Indeed, at least 20 shootings related to mask restrictions have happened since March 2020.
Antifa, a radical leftist group, has become increasingly violent over the past few years. In September of last year, a left-wing activist affiliated with the group murdered a Trump supporter in Portland, Oregon. Only a few weeks ago, a Proud Boys leader was shot in his foot during a protest in the city. Prior to last year, Antifa operatives had not resorted to using firearms, but it appears that more are becoming willing to use deadly force.
Of course, there is also the violence that occurred in at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which resulted in the death of a leftist protester named Heather Heyer in the summer of 2017. This incident, along with the lies the activist media spread about it, set the stage for this new political season into which America had entered.
We also have the George Floyd riots, which consumed parts of major cities all across the country. While most of this violence was carried out by opportunists who just wanted to loot, there were an overwhelming number of instances in which operatives wounded police officers. At least 25 people were killed over last summer’s demonstrations.
Lastly, we have the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol building, in which right-wing protesters vandalized property and attacked police. While the vast majority of the individuals who attended the rally did not participate in the violence, a small percentage of them did. About 140 officers were wounded during the fracas. One woman was killed by a police officer, as well.
There are plenty of examples of violence that have occurred over the past four to five years. But lately, it seems to be intensifying, and it won’t take much for it to become even more pernicious.
Imagine how things would play out if a politically motivated individual or group carried out a deadly assault that resulted in a significant number of deaths. Let’s say some Antifa members came to a Trump rally and opened fire, killing 13 people. This scenario could easily prompt some fringe elements on the right to become even more radicalized to the point they decide to get revenge by doing the same at a left-leaning event.
The result could be a scattered, low-scale war of attrition, in which ideological violence could occur more frequently. This is a situation about which nobody wishes to think. It would be a reality that none of us would ever want to face. But with the way things are proceeding, it is becoming more of a possibility.
The fact that our media and politicians are uninterested in trying to calm the situation down further demonstrates that there is not much standing in the way of an increase in political violence. When the fringe elements on either side have the loudest microphones, it becomes harder for more sensible views to prevail. Hopefully, America manages to avoid going down that road.