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Opinion | How Likely Is Another Civil War?

To the Editor:

Jamelle Bouie starts out by documenting the public feeling that the United States is indeed facing a second civil war. But he takes a wrong turn by suggesting that this conflict will not happen because today’s conditions do not mirror those of our 19th-century version (“Why We Are Not Facing the Prospect of a Second Civil War,” column, Feb. 17).

However, we are in a very precarious position. Large portions of our population have adopted an antigovernment position, fueled by our former president and his minions. Racism is now out in the open, as evidenced by the rantings of anti-diversity proponents in raucous school board meetings throughout the country. The country is more armed than ever, and thousands of these citizens belong to organized militia.

We learn more details every day about how close we came last year to a coup engineered by the former president. Too many elected officials no longer display commitment to our democratic principles. The organized campaign of disinformation that is destroying our country is buttressed every day by extreme-right media outlets and commentators.

Contrary to Mr. Bouie’s piece, there is a serious risk that we will lose this precious experiment called American democracy. Yet there is still a modicum of hope it can be averted. But that will require that we all take responsibility by speaking up for our Republic.

James Martorano
Yorktown Heights, N.Y.

To the Editor:

The plot to kidnap the governor of Michigan, the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol to overturn the results of the 2020 election and the continuing trumpeting of the lie that the election was stolen approach the criterion that Jamelle Bouie sets for a second civil war: “irreconcilable social and economic interests of opposing groups within the society.”

In her book “How Civil Wars Start: And How to Stop Them,” Barbara F. Walter, a professor of political science at the University of California San Diego, states that, according to the polity index score, which places countries on a scale from fully autocratic (-10) to fully democratic (+10), the United States is now a +5, which makes us an “anocracy,” a country that is moving from a democracy to an authoritarian regime.

In just five years, we went from +10 to +5! “A partial democracy,” writes Ms. Walter, “is three times as likely to experience civil war as a full democracy.”

Now is the time to strengthen our democracy to avert another civil war.

Allen J. Davis
Dublin, N.H.

To the Editor:

Re “Will Asian Americans Desert Democrats?,” by Thomas B. Edsall (Opinion guest essay, Sunday Review, March 6):

Mr. Edsall’s essay ponders whether Asian Americans are bolting from the Democratic Party, using isolated examples of Chinese American voters swaying recent races in two major cities, New York and San Francisco. However, his claim that this is evidence of Asian Americans moving to the right is a flawed analysis.

First, these were complicated elections that cannot be boiled down to one or two issues. Second, how Chinese Americans voted in two cities cannot represent the political preferences of Asian Americans everywhere — just as the fact that Asian Americans helped flip historically Republican-held Senate seats in Georgia and Arizona does not necessarily mean Asian Americans are moving left nationwide.

Although not often reported in media analyses, our Asian American Voter Survey polling data includes Asian American suburban moms, college- and non-college-educated, rich and poor, and a wide range of ethnic identities across all 50 states. One would not say the trends of white voters in Little Rock tell the story of white voters everywhere. This should not be done with Asian American voters either.

To understand the future of our communities’ votes, one must look at who is listening, engaging and working on our behalf. Parties and political candidates who can do this the most effectively are more likely to win our vote; it’s as simple as that.

Christine Chen
The writer is executive director of Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote.

To the Editor:

Re “Another Working Mother for the Supreme Court” (Opinion guest essay, March 8):

Melissa Murray opines that, at her confirmation hearings, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s status as a “working mother” might be for her a selling point among conservative senators, just as it had factored into their support of Justice Amy Coney Barrett at her hearings.

Funny, I don’t recall any prospective male justices ever being asked about whether their status as “working fathers” might affect their abilities and opinions. Republicans clearly did not deem it relevant to find out if a nominee was a superdad — whether he could do laundry, help kids with homework and work outside the home, all at the same time!

Lori Pearson Wise
Winter Park, Fla.

To the Editor:

Re “Combating Disinformation Can Feel Like a Lost Cause. It Isn’t,” by Jay Caspian Kang (Opinion, March 9):

It is no revelation to me, a retired middle- and upper-school librarian, that students in lower-income environments and underfunded public schools do not register well on media literacy tests.

The hiring of professional, credentialed librarians in these schools is often postponed and neglected in order to hire more subject-matter teachers to decrease class sizes, leaving no one with the training and skill sets to introduce these important literacy tools.

It is a disservice to these vulnerable students not to provide a curriculum that addresses this gaping hole in their education.

Sandra Moore
Township of Washington, N.J.

To the Editor:

Re “Pair of Studies Say Covid Originated in Wuhan Market” (news article, Feb. 28):

As we enter the third year of the pandemic, it is becoming increasingly clear that we may never know the full and exact details of the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 in humans.

Even as experts continue to uncover connections to the market in Wuhan, China, the spillover story may only remain a partial narrative, veiled by insufficient data. This is an uncertainty, like so many other unknowns on a shifting planet undergoing climate change, to which we must adapt.

The one certainty we can rely on, however, is the inextricable link between humans and animals. From hunter-gathering to the industrial livestock production model, our relationships with animals cannot be unbound. What’s more, we’ve progressively dominated species and their habitats with dire consequences. This certainty is highlighted by the pandemic through which we are all living today.

So, it’s time to start talking about our health differently. Public health does not exist in isolation from other beings. It’s time to become comfortable talking about public health as planetary health.

Perhaps normalizing this discourse might have us, as a global community, face the destruction of natural habitats as the destruction of global human health. Perhaps it might have us cultivate a different type of care, a reciprocal care that might stand to benefit us all.

Christine Yanagawa
Vancouver, British Columbia

To the Editor:

Re “What the Democrats Need to Do,” by Michael Kazin (Opinion guest essay, Sunday Review, Feb. 27):

Mr. Kazin is right that President Biden could be more forceful in pushing for the stalled Build Back Better bill and the Protecting the Right to Organize Act.

But the president needs to go beyond that and directly address the rural populace. He needs to tour the outposts of the heartland, the Rust Belt, the rural West and the South, bringing a message that Democrats have compassion for all Americans and that Democratic policies will make their lives better.

We need to see more of the ol’ Empathetic Joe. The difference between a mountebank like Donald Trump and Joe Biden is that Mr. Biden can actually stand behind his promises to make America better — for all of us.

Luc Nadeau
Longmont, Colo.

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