Opinion

Renée Graham

For Trump, impeachment means civil war

Illustration by Lesley Becker/Globe Staff | Adobe | Globe file photo

If the Civil War had truly ended more than 150 years ago, there would be no President Trump.

The same seething white resentment that doomed the post-war Reconstruction era ushered Trump into the White House. Now he’s promoting a hate pastor’s rubbish that America will face a “Civil War like fracture in the Nation from which our Country will never heal,” if he is removed from office.

Keep this in mind as this increasingly unhinged and desperate president faces a deepening impeachment inquiry. We already know — from Charlottesville to Pittsburgh, from Christchurch to El Paso — Trump’s incendiary rhetoric has garnered a body count.

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Because he’s such a grotesque caricature of a man and a president, it’s easy to laugh at Trump’s sheer ridiculousness. After Trump tweet-quoted Christian extremist Robert Jeffress’s dire, hyperbolic prediction made (where else?) on “Fox & Friends Weekend,” #CivilWarSignup began burning up Twitter with endless jokes about imaginary battles, fighting prowess (or lack thereof), and even appropriate attire for a civil war.

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None of this is funny.

Not when white hate groups are talking about a “full blown ‘hot’ civil war” and calling the left “domestic enemies of the Constitution bent on the destruction of the Republic.” Never mind that the Constitution has no greater enemy, in this or any nation, than the man who took an oath to defend it when he was sworn in as the 45th president.

And not when Trump, a merchant of lies and discord, hints at potential violence if he is impeached. He is rallying his supporters with the belief that an attack on him is also an attack on them.

Back in 2017, just four months into his presidency when the “i-word” was already bubbling up after he fired FBI director James Comey, Trump sent out a fund-raising e-mail claiming “the media is out to get us.” It continued: President Trump is waging “an uphill battle — and we need to be prepared to go into the trenches to FIGHT BACK.”

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Of course, this has always been Trump’s message to supporters — if he goes down, they go down. Politicians love the all-for-one, one-for-all inclusiveness of plural pronouns, but Trump has weaponized them. It’s not the first time he has implied that his supporters would “demand” to keep him in office, even beyond a second term — if he lasts that long.

Like the coward he is, Trump hides behind tough-guy poses and talk. He often rhapsodizes about a time when “troublemakers” were dealt with “a little differently than we do now.” That’s what he said about the whistle-blower — a true American patriot — who exposed information about Trump’s improper phone conversation with the president of Ukraine. His implied violence was very clear.

Naturally, it’s never Trump who gets his hands dirty. When violence erupts — and hate crimes have soared since he became president — he feigns innocence even as his own invective indicts him. His hate speech is prominent in manifestos by several mass shooters, including the alleged murderer of 22 people at an El Paso Walmart in August.

Trump’s words are like IEDs detonating in the violent minds of fragile white men. And now, finally facing consequences for his presidency’s pervasive corruption, he’s fomenting notions of war in America. It’s so outrageous even Republican Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois called Trump’s comment “beyond repugnant.”

If only Trump’s comments were merely repugnant, and not potentially lethal.

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With 47 percent of Americans now favoring his impeachment and removal from office, Trump is again mining white resentment, the oxygen of his campaign and presidency, as his lifeline. Convinced it will keep him in office, he will drag this nation through mayhem, terror, and grief beyond imagination.

Renée Graham can be reached at renee.graham@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @reneeygraham.