[Order Robert Spencer’s new book, The Sumter Gambit: CLICK HERE.]
From birth, the United States was a house divided. Slavery had existed always, everywhere; but America was different – founded on a set of noble ideas with which the institution of slavery was utterly at odds. Still, in order to establish – and then to preserve – a union that was half slave and half free, America’s leaders repeatedly put off the day of reckoning. Jefferson condemned slavery in a draft passage of the Declaration of Independence, only to take it out to ensure passage. The Constitution’s framers dealt with the issue by concocting the three-fifths compromise. In 1820, the Missouri Compromise balanced the admission of slave Missouri with that of free Maine; the Compromise of 1850 admitted free California but also introduced the Fugitive Slave Act, compelling the return of escaped slaves to their owners.
Along the way, some events upset the constant, desperate attempts at balance. Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) sparked anti-slavery passions. In 1854, abolitionists formed the GOP and the Kansas-Nebraska Act allowed slavery anywhere. In the 1850s, Kansans spent years warring over slavery, and in 1859 John Brown raided a Virginia arsenal in an effort to incite a slave revolt.
Viewing Lincoln’s 1860 election as a threat to their “peculiar institution,” Southern states began seceding even before he took office; in his inaugural address, delivered two weeks to the day after the formation, on February 18, 1861, of the Confederate States of America, Lincoln eloquently articulated the hope that even now, when a standoff between Union and rebel forces was brewing at Fort Sumter, an Army installation in the harbor of Charleston, S.C., further compromise was yet feasible: “Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
But no reunion was forthcoming. No angels materialized. On April 12, Southern forces began firing on Fort Sumter. As Robert Spencer puts it in his engaging, important, and wide-ranging new book, The Sumter Gambit, the war “started when the Confederate side forced it to begin.” Ordered to abandon the fort, the Yankees refused. “Then the South warned that even resupplying the fort with food would be considered an act of war. The choice was clear: surrender the fort and accept the secession of the Southern states or go to war.”
And so it was war. The longstanding divisions had finally split the house in two. Today, argues Spencer, America is in a not dissimilar fix – although, in his estimation, the divisions now are even wider. In 1861, North and South shared “a common culture, a common religion, a common heritage, and a common outlook”; today, left and right barely share “a common language.”
Can that be? Is the gulf greater now than then? My own sense is that in the mid-19th century there were significant disparities in culture and outlook – and, yes, even in religion – between North and South, and that today, conversely, red and blue voters can seem more divided than they really are, with millions voting Democrat because they’re clueless about what the party stands for today and because they get their “news” from corporate media that pour out progressive PR. Nonetheless, it’s true that today’s leftist ideologues, like the more rabid secessionists in the South of 1861, are indeed, as Spencer says, “edging the nation ever closer to a new civil war.” Spencer dubs this “the Sumter Gambit.”
Like the standoff in Charleston harbor, the present crisis follows decades of increasing tension between two Americas. This time it’s not about freedom vs. slavery, however, but about freedom vs. statist tyranny. And there are other divergences. One is that slavery was there from the beginning and was essentially (in the words of the old hymn) from age to age the same; by contrast, the left’s governing ideology has, over the decades, grown steadily more radical and hard to square with individual freedom, common sense, or (for that matter) the hard lessons of 20th-century totalitarianism. As late as 1960, JFK and Nixon were remarkably close to each other on the issues; a few years later, LBJ’s Great Society marked a great leap forward from federalist republic to welfare state; in 1972, George McGovern’s presidential run represented, in Spencer’s words, the “mainstreaming of…anti-Americanism in the Democratic Party.” In the ensuing years, the mainstream media, the D.C. swamp, and – most decisively – the schools and universities fell increasingly under the control of radicals who taught young Americans to hate liberty, capitalism, and their own country and to embrace globalism, multiculturalism, climatism, and, more recently, “anti-racism” and gender madness. And Congress welcomed members like Ilhan Omar, who makes McGovern look almost like Eisenhower.
Then there’s the longtime problem of the Deep State. As early as 1961, in his farewell address, Ike warned about the military-industrial complex. The CIA is now being seriously accused of having a hand in the JFK assassination. A generation grew up believing that Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein saved democracy by bringing down Nixon; now they look like unwitting tools of Deep State operatives eager to oust a strong-minded president who’d just won an overwhelming election victory. Almost half a century later, the same Deep State tried its darndest to bring down Donald Trump – and then, almost certainly, foiled his re-election.
In the Watergate era, to be sure, Democrats viewed Republicans as opponents. Now they’re seen as nothing less than enemies – a chilling attitude that found its ultimate expression in Joe Biden’s speech of September 1, 2022 (delivered, ironically enough, at Independence Hall in Philadelphia), in which he described Trump and his supporters as “extremists that threaten the very foundations of our republic.” Quite rightly, Spencer views that dark moment in Philadelphia as pivotal. “For the first time in American history,” he writes, “a president declared that his primary political opposition was outside the bounds of acceptable political discourse….Biden came closer to calling for war upon American citizens than any president since Jefferson Davis.”
But Spencer doesn’t leave it at that. He also compares Biden’s speech to one given by Hitler on March 23, 1933, in support of a piece of legislation called the Enabling Act. Of course, we’re never supposed to compare anyone to Hitler. Leo Strauss called it reductio ad hitlerum. But why is this so verboten? There have been tyrants as terrible as Hitler in the past – in the twentieth century alone we had Stalin and Mao – and there will be terrible ones in the future. If an American president stands in front of a blood-red background, with Marines at attention behind him, and demonizes his political opponents in fiery language that’s eerily reminiscent of a specific Hitler speech, is it unreasonable to note the similarity? When Biden and his flunkies routinely smear MAGA Republicans as fascists – even while his own regime, by covertly collaborating with Silicon Valley and other corporate cronies, is acting out the very definition of fascism – wouldn’t one be a fool not to point out the truth?
One thing’s for sure: Spencer, as he’s proven in over a dozen exceptional books, is no fool. In The Sumter Gambit, he perceptively examines the various fronts on which the left is pushing freedom-loving Americans to the brink, frequently focusing in on various obscure episodes that illuminate just what we’re up against. Did you know, for example, about January 6 “insurrectionist” Matthew Perna, a decent patriot who, on February 25, 2022, his heart and soul finally broken after more than a year of emotional torture at the hands of the Justice Department, committed suicide? Spencer contrasts the system’s cruel tormenting of Perna with the case of Quintez Brown, a BLM thug who, after shooting at a Kentucky politician who’s now the mayor of Louisville, was treated sympathetically in the media, welcomed on Joy Reid’s MSNBC show, “anointed as a rising star by the Obama Foundation,” and given a column in Louisville’s major daily.
A key difference between the first Fort Sumter moment and the current one is that slavery, in those immediate antebellum days, was out in the open – an unambiguous evil – while today’s Democratic tyranny is largely a matter of back-room machinations involving party hirelings, media hacks, and secret agents, all of whom seek to bamboozle the rest of us by turning virtually everything upside-down. In Orwell’s 1984,“war is peace” and “freedom is slavery”; in 2023, truth-tellers are “conspiracy theorists” and “saving our democracy” means suppressing free speech. MAGA words are violence – but don’t dare call Antifa arson or BLM bloodshed by its real name.
And on and on it goes. The same establishment figures who pushed the lie of Trump’s Russia collusion dismissed Hunter Biden’s laptop as Russian dupery. Joe Biden – who has weaponized the FBI and CIA, collaborated covertly with big tech, and been bought and paid for by the CCP – is depicted as a defender of “our democracy,” while Trump, a real champion of freedom, is painted as a dangerous authoritarian. Although multiple investigations (who in this country’s history has been probed more thoroughly?) have shown Trump’s finances to be remarkably above-board, while the colossal dimensions (and treasonous implications) of Biden’s corruption are becoming clearer and clearer, clueless clowns on the left can still say, as Joy Behar did on a recent episode of The View, that “we all know that Trump is a liar and a thief” but we “don’t think Biden is a liar and a thief.”
It’s hard to deny Spencer’s assertion that the left is actively seeking to provoke the rest of us into starting a civil war. Why, after all, did Nancy Pelosi’s office deny security officials the resources they requested so that they could safeguard the Capitol on January 6? Why did Capitol Hill police essentially stand down during the so-called “insurrection”? Why did some of them let “insurrectionists” into the building? Why have the Democrats kept most of the video recordings of the events of that day under lock and key?
But what about Spencer’s concern that conservatives might resort, in significant numbers, to actual violence (as opposed to the imaginary violence of January 6)? Is he right to worry about that? Isn’t it the left that breeds rioters and rebels? Aren’t conservatives by nature law-abiding? Doesn’t the left’s desperate need to cast the Proud Boys as terrorists simply reflect the lack of real organized violence on the right to complain about? Yes, it would be thoroughly understandable if a large cohort of right-wingers were, at long last, after decades of left-wing violence – the Black Panthers, SDS, Weather Underground, M19, BLM, Antifa, etc., etc. – to go amok in reaction to the outrages cataloged in Spencer’s book. But how likely is that? I don’t know. Spencer’s far from alone in being concerned about a possible divorce – amicable or not – between the blue and red states. But even after everything that’s happened – and been revealed – in the last few years about the scale of the D.C. swamp’s perfidy, such a turn of events is hard for me to imagine. Perhaps I still haven’t shaken off my romantic boyhood ideas about America. Or perhaps I’ve lived abroad too long to be able to read the room.
In any event, I’m certainly on board with Spencer’s concluding exhortation to responsible-minded American patriots: if you’re moved to end affirmative action, bar biological males from women’s sports, secure the border, celebrate the Founding Fathers, pursue an “America First foreign policy,” and reverse the left’s innumerable other assaults on American liberty, peace, and prosperity, the time to do it is now. And the way to do it, however much you may be tempted to become the John Brown of the Biden era, is to act within the law – even though the administration of what used to be known as American justice is currently in the hands of a vile swamp creature of an attorney general whose loyalty isn’t to due process but to the Democratic Party. As Spencer observes at the close of this highly estimable addition to a truly magnificent oeuvre: “Our resistance and stand for freedom must be unshakable and indefatigable, without resorting to the violence the Left is relentlessly trying to goad us into committing.”
Spurwing Plover says
Fort Sumter and Pearl Habor have little in common two Military bases Bombed and the Backlash would prove costly to the ones who did it the Burning of Atlanta and The A-Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Mo de Profit says
“ Southern states began seceding even before he took office”
California when Trump hacks the voting machines and stops the fraud?
Tex the Mockingbird says
Its the Democrats who do the Hacking Rosebud
Miranda Rose Smith says
I think you mean “like the more rabid secessionists in the South of 1861.”
Banastre Tarleton says
This is all wishful thinking again as the cultural/political rift between Red/Blue states is getting worse by the month and a pragmatic partition is the only sensible option left to salvage what can still be saved from these United States . Yes, there comes a time when all sensible folks finally accept that a national D_I_V_O_R_C_E is necessary … the pragmatic partition of India/Pakistan in 1947 is the likely blueprint IMHO
I see the down vote and ask. How can anyone truly want to be in a nation or any relationship with the left? They’re not a “ partner for peace.”
No, not your silly neighbor who watches MSM. But those political and deep state elites and media moguls who censor, condone “ profound” violence but imprison others for 1A. Who thinks they can politely ask tyrants to stop being tyrants or live with them in peace as free people?
At least one person.
Leftists don’t operate that way. The only way out is by fighting.. Why? Because they need productive people to loot, and these only come from Red America.
“Pragmatic partition”? That is just another way of advocating for serial surrender. Do you think the rapacious left would be satisfied with anything less than ironfisted control of the entire nation? They are possessed by the demon of omnipotence. They want everything, including all of the states, all of the power, and the same revenge they have inflicted in the past on those who opposed them or didn’t at least help in the slaughter of tens of millions. .
Algorithmic Analyst says
Indeed, the Democrats are trying to sucker the Republicans into starting a war, so the Democrats can crack down on them while the Democrats have control of the military. Then the Democrats can establish permanent one party rule.. Like they already have in California.
That was Nancy’s trick with the January 6 fiasco that she set up.
Yes, the Democrats control the board, They would love a military conflict, that should be obvious from their acceptance of BLM and Antifa. They know they would win. January 6th is their templet.
Steven Brizel says
The Democrats always play the race and Social Security cards when all else has failed
J.J. Sefton says
I don’t think the American character is such that we would NOT take up arms in revolt. In any case, as was clearly demonstrated with the Whitmer kidnapping “plot” and J-6, the FBI and CIA will engineer and create a false flag operation as the cassus belli to seize absolute power (if they haven’t already) and then declare anyone opposed to them as “insurrectionists.”
Look at this Sheila Jackass-Lee hate speech law and now apply it to all Leftists, and not just black folk.
J.J. Sefton says
*I don’t think the American character is such that we would NOT ”
Omit the “don’t”
The Left is so arrogant. If there is a Civil War, what makes the Left think that it will win?
Joe Biden says
We would only win if the army was on our side, that’s how communists have always won.
Handler #9 says
And with the courtier press on our side – acting more like stenographers, than we could hope for.
Now it’s time for your nap, Mr. President . . . preferably before you say anything stupid again.
The army would not be on our side. Jobama got rid of all the patriots in the officer ranks and the senior NCOs, then replaced them with angry lesbians, racists, and malcontents.
Angel Jacob says
The current divide in the US can not be addressed without factoring in the foreign enemies. Communism and Islam.
We not only let the communists and muslims invade the US, but also started championing them and demonizing our freedoms.
We must focus on the history of our sworn enemies, communism and islam . How many hundreds of millions they’ve killed, and the miserable tyrannical states they created. VS the greatest nation in history of humanity which lead us to freedoms, prosperity and happiness. A very fair rewards and punishment system, where hard work is rewarded dearly, and the criminal behavior is punished justly. All based on actions and behavior, and not some mumbo jumbo ideology.
Steven Brizel says
The left has been engaged in a campaign to destroy American values and the rule of law since the ,mid to late 1960s. by taking over popular culture, and institutions of education, which led to a Democratic Party and legacy media now dominated by the woke world view. There are clear alternatives-but you have to organize ,ignore amd fight the influence of the woke world and its perspective in all ways.
Spencer is correct about the nation being close to civil war, but I think both he and Bawer fail to realize that there is one thing worse than another civil war, and that is submitting to the tyranny of the Left. They are perhaps closer than either realizes to achieving absolute power, and if they make it impossible to remove them office by peaceful means before they have solidified their control, the only alternative to submission would be the use of force in self-defense.
I also think that Bawer, good as he is, doesn’t quite see that the issue now is exact the same as it was at the time of Fort Sumpter: freedom vs. slavery, for slavery to a Leftist government is no different in substance than the chattel slavery that existed in the past even if it is different in form.
Ian Deal says
We do not need a civil war. We will be saved by feedback loops. The more blue a city or state, the more dysfunctional it is. Competent and capable citizens flee, leaving behind an increasingly incompetent and incapable population. Blue states and cities are resting on the profits of generations of talented people, but they have no talented leaders and are squandering their inheritance. Red states will become more dynamic and draw more people, more talent, and more money. Progressives, socialists, and communists “don’t know how” as James Lindsay likes to say. Federalism will save us, but it will get ugly.
The divide is far worse than in the Civil War Era. The Democrat Reich checks all the boxes on the Fascist things-to-do list, including Hitler’s racialist policies. They reject limited government and unalienable rights. They insist on a pure majoritarianism whereby they decide what rights, if any, their opponents might have. They reject equality under the law. This is to say that Democrats are no longer American, except in the narrowest sense of geographical location.
Much of “today’s Democratic tyranny is largely a matter of back-room machinations”, but one evil they support as consistently as they did slavery is abortion. Abortion is an evil even greater than slavery and one which, like slavery, has less and less room for compromise. While comparisons to Hitler are the easiest to make, the better comparison is to communism, since nearly the entire leadership of the Democratic Party (and some significant part of the Republican) is in league with Communist China. We already have a genuine gulag in the D.C. Capitol Police basement. They operate a Vichy style regime aligned with the China that sent us the coronavirus.
If a new civil war comes that would surely be its Fort Sumpter.
The “winner” of the War Between the States was the Federal government and the losers were ALL the states.
I don’t believe that wasn’t Lincoln’s intention, but in war, the centralization of power inevitably becomes necessary to carry on and win that war.
Honestly, I’m done with the hopium that constantly comes from some ‘right’ news sites. “The polls say this…”, “We need to get out and vote…”, “So and so is favored to win…”, “Red wave is upon us…”! All BS! We have lost the last three voting cycles through whatever reasons, albeit, mostly from large population centers able to over ballot legal votes. Our voting form of elections are over. We will never vote our way out of this current conundrum. The left cannot allow it simple because of how Communist they have become. Sooner or later, someone, something will set CW2 into motion….sad state of affairs, really!
The present tyranny became inevitable after and because of the events of November 4, 2008. Sadly, I have to agree.
How refreshing to hear it: “Slavery had existed always, everywhere.”
Not only in Europe or America, as is believed today, thanks to the brainwashing inflicted to the general public, but in Asia, Oceania and Africa since the dawn of times.
At some point in history, our ancestors were somebody’s slaves somewhere – mine most probably in the Roman empire around Julius Cesar’s time. So what? But I wouldn’t dream of complaining to Mrs. Meloni and asking for slavery reparations from Italy – if only lest I’d provoke the biggest laugh outburst of the decade.
P Bro says
They never want to acknowledge that it was the policies of white men who ended slavery in the West and fought it around the world.
They don’t want to acknowledge It was the awakening of white Christian men – specifically white, evangelical, English speaking, Christian men to the call of the Lord their God to abandon and later to crush by military force the Satanic practices of all men from the dawn of creation.
Onzeur Trante says
The political/cultural social divide in the country cannot, imho, be bridged. The Republicans do not stand together on issues as Democrats always do and this results in failure on many fronts: leadership, legislating, committee assignments, policy, etc., etc. The two-tiered corrupt justice system currently solidly in place prevents conservatives from openly/publicly resisting what they rightly perceive as threats to freedom and common sense. If nothing else J6 instilled in Americans a fear of peaceful protesting, not just in DC, but anywhere. The “unshakeable and indefatigable” resistance to attacks on freedom the author mentions seems to have gone into hiding. Without it, we slip inevitably into a full blown totalitarian state.
Guy Crawford says
““Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” I read these words from Lincoln and try to imagine our present president trying to craft the same, and maybe wondering how many voters could either read or understand.
Jeff Bargholz says
The only ting Alzheimer Joe can craft is a load in his diapers.
Jim Dollar says
I fully agree with Bruce Bawer that we need to do what we can within the law. Make sure we vote in order to secure a more conservative government. The only thing I want your authors to is quit calling the Dems the Democratic party. They are not democratic. They should be called the Democrat party so that those who are not up to speed with American history will know the difference between the name of the liberal party and the type of representative government we have.
eddie de fonzo says
Sad to remember “GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME DEATH”
SADDER TO SURVIVE BY KNEELING
Ralph P says
Sadly, I believe we are well past reconciliation. The left is already waging war on us. It will soon be time to respond in kind or be enslaved..
Anyone that wants to believe a peaceful end to the war with the left is possible, is full of it. There are no avenues remaining for the right where this can happen, and if there were, the left would close it immediately. To defeat an enemy, you have to know them. The enemy of the right is the left, and they are communists. Communists do not brook compromise, relinquishing of power, or power sharing. They murder and torture and enslave their opponents. Food is often used by them as a weapon. They rule like that until something forces them to stop, and communists only understand and yield to force. “Working within the system” has been a major boon to the communists, and will not free us again. I don’t want civil war. I also don’t want my children, grandchildren, etc, to be slaves. Peace is a wonderful thing, but not the only thing. Only the force of arms will admit now.
We are supposed to work within the law even while it’s run by the leftist deep state. That’s going to work out just swell
The left and their allies have already started the war, we are seeing minor skirmishes take place not only here in the US, but all over the world. Civil unrest, civil disobedience, and finally, civil war. But I believe the major part won’t start until the worlds economies are busted by the wealthiest elites on a global scale. That describes the second and third horses of the apocalypse, The forth will be total world war, yet, a limited war. What will limit a world war? the major ally of the left will suffer a major defeat against the one it invades and that defeat will hobble the left and slow its plans down considerably. The war will take seven years and at the end when the left is at its peak of power, it will be taken out by one person, and peace will come to planet earth, finally.
You can read all about it in the book of Revelation and the supporting books that go along with it to provide insight into all the events that will take place.
King James asked the question of his advisors as to what to watch for to recognize the end times, his advisors told him to; “watch the Jews,” He had some very wise advisors.
Bird of Paradise says
IF YIU KNEW IF YOU REALY UNDERSTAND COMMUNISM YOU WILL HOPE YOU WILL PRAY ON YOUR KNEES THAT WE SOULD ONE DAY BECOME COMMUNISTS. Hanoi Jane