When President Donald Trump warned on his Twitter account of a “Civil War like fracture” if he is removed from office, the message had a special resonance with some of his heavier-armed supporters.
….If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal.” Pastor Robert Jeffress, @FoxNews
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2019
“We ARE on the verge of a HOT civil war,” the Twitter account for the Oath Keepers militia declared.
“Like in 1859,” it continued. “That’s where we are. And the Right has ZERO trust or respect for anything the left is doing. We see THEM as illegitimate too.” Trump supporters, the account added, “will NOT accept the results of a ‘successful’ impeachment as legitimate.”
The group is not a couple dozen preppers shooting guns in the woods, either. The Oath Keepers boasts thousands of members, many who are first responders, members of the military and veterans (hence the “oath” they swore to the Constitution). They have occupied American streets before, such as in Ferguson, where they carried military-style rifles and even monitored crowds from rooftops.
Alex Jones’ popular conspiracy channel InfoWars also seized on Trump’s message — as NBC News’ Ben Collins noted, talk of civil war is a mainstay for the media outlet, which frequently raises the topic in between ads for shady dietary supplements.
On Monday, a post on InfoWars’ website about the news pitched viewers: “TRUMP WARNS AMERICA: WE’RE IN DANGER OF ENTERING CIVIL WAR. From the show that told you first, learn what comes next!”
The President’s tweet, added to an already-roiling political environment, was an act of “stochastic terrorism,” former Obama administration Department of Homeland Security official Juliette Kayyem asserted on Twitter. The increasingly in-use term refers to political demagoguery that serves as the inspiration for random acts of politically motivated violence, such as mass shootings.
In recent months, supporters of the President have made headlines due to concerns about such attacks (or, in cases such as the recent massacre of Hispanic shoppers by a gunman in El Paso, actual mass violence).
For example, an Oregon man had his guns confiscated earlier this summer under the state’s new “red flag” laws after speaking of a plan to “slaughter” antifascists.
On the day House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry of Trump, a Facebook page associated with the III% Security Force militia group linked to an article about Pelosi and wrote, “Someone should declare war on Domestic enemies if they are inside the country. Oh shit, dont repost or feds will come to your house..IDGAF.”
Another post on the militia’s public Facebook group, the next day, outlined “America’s Next Civil War Step by Step.” One step was “Militia activity becoming more widespread.” Another: “Political parties edging into becoming militias.” (In between those two, the author wrote: “YOU ARE HERE AND FAILING MISERABLY).”
A supporter of the President who claimed to be a member of the broader “III%” movement (so named because members assert that three percent of Americans served in Revolutionary War militias) put it more bluntly in a video he posted to Twitter.
The tweet, posted Sept. 24, has since been deleted. But in it, Twitter user “AlkireMike” included a video in which a man speaks directly to camera.
“At the end of the day, Mr. President, just know that if they try some illegal move to remove you from presidency, if there is an uprising of radical Islamic terrorists in this country, the three percenters are at your disposal,” he said. “All you have to do is come out on Twitter or national media and call us to arms, and we will show the world once again that America has the largest free-standing army with weapons, and firepower that they can’t even begin to fathom. You will have an army at your side at a moment’s notice, Mr. President. All you have to do is say the word.”