Lifting the veil on America's invisible civil war

In his new book 'Remember This Day Forever: Trump from Presidency to Rebellion', journalist Hussein Jaradi outlines the very real dangers of the sharp divisions ahead of the upcoming US election

Supporters of US President Donald Trump protest outside the Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC.
Supporters of US President Donald Trump protest outside the Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC.

Lifting the veil on America's invisible civil war

The United States is sharply divided ahead of November’s general election, which will see the same two candidates face off again. The last one was so divisive that it sparked protests that almost resulted in an insurrection.

In his new book Remember This Day Forever: Trump from Presidency to Rebellion, journalist and TV presenter Hussein Jaradi does a deep dive into American society ahead of the 2020 vote, which saw Joe Biden replace Donald Trump as president.

While these events have been examined and analysed at great length, Jaradi provides exceptional insights drawing upon his long career reporting on American politics for the Al-Hurra channel.

He details the march of Trump’s supporters on the US Capitol on 6 January, when they tried to disrupt the vote certification ceremony. Jaradi argues that the near-insurrection was a culmination of various ticking time bombs which were bound to explode.

He lays out what he believes to be the drivers of the event, even diving into the mundane, to show how they are interlinked.

Through a combination of narrative storytelling, investigative journalism, and his news presentation skills, he produced an engaging and relevant read.

Hussein Jaradi signing his book at the book fair in the Forum de Beirut.

Colourful and compelling storytelling

The book's opening sets up the story by blending thorough research with colourful scene-setting.

“On the evening of Thursday, 24 August 2023, Donald Trump was booked in Fulton County jail in Georgia as inmate No. PO1135809.

The former US president declared his height and weight, had his fingerprints taken, and posed for his mug shot – a first for a president.

Trump was held in custody for 20 minutes on charges of electoral blackmail and conspiracy to tamper with the outcome of the 2020 presidential elections and was released on a $200,000 bail.”

Jaradi applies this style throughout the book. He selects key facts that he uses as landmarks in the story, which help trace the transformations that unfolded in America following the 2020 presidential election and the political polarisation that ensued.

The election revived dormant issues that America thought had been buried forever, including white supremacy, xenophobia, and armed militias. These issues were pervasive enough to almost spark a civil war in the country.

In true documentary fashion, Jaradi publishes speeches, court proceedings, social media posts, statements, and interviews taken from their original sources or conducted by the author verbatim.

He also injects an element of suspense into the story, using novelistic, literary, and even cinematic techniques to create a climax without compromising the book’s journalistic integrity.

Jaradi lays out what he believes to be the drivers of the 6 January insurrection, even diving into the mundane, to show how they are interlinked.

The lead-up to 6 January

On 7 November, after the election results started to trickle in and it became clear that Trump had lost, he and his team started plotting to steal the victory.

According to I Alone Can Fix It, a book by Washington Post journalists Carol Leung and Philip Rucker, the leader of Trump's legal team and former Mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani, was the key architect of this plan.

Trump and his team agreed. In the days after the election, as Democrats celebrated, Republicans went on national TV and said that their candidate had won.

Biden's election victory descended into a tribal partisanship battle between Democrats and Replicanan in a spectacle never seen before in American history.

It was much more than just the outcome of the vote. For Democrats, it marked the defeat of Trump and everything he stood for, whereas Republicans held and expressed their visceral hatred for Biden.

This animalistic feud turned into a call to arms among Trump supporters, and the rest is history. On 6 January, they marched onto the Capitol and overtook the building in an event that will go down in American history as one of the most infamous insurrection attempts.

The attack was directly incited and encouraged by Trump. It put America's democracy, its legislative and legal institutions, and the overall order in the country in serious jeopardy.

What was especially concerning was that the participants and supporters of the attack considered themselves to be acting in the interests of their nation's founding principles.

But to others looking on, it felt more like a rebellion against the established principles on which America was built, running much deeper than a political and electoral dispute.

In a tweet posted on 19 December, Trump called for a large protest in Washington on 6 January, the day the election results were due to be certified, a usually procedural matter. He followed it with another tweet that concluded, in typical Trump fashion: "Be there. It will be wild."

Media reports from the time that Trump supporters were discussing plans to set up an armed encampment in the National Mall Park near the White House, as well as threats of violence and efforts to smuggle weapons into the area, went largely unnoticed.

And so the stage was set for 6 January. The world watched as the results of this incitement unfolded: police evacuating employees and legislators from the buildings and relocating them to safer areas; angry crowds, armed with batons, clashing with the police, who appeared unprepared to handle the situation; windows shattered and people storming the place.

Dangerous aftermath

The aftermath left deep and dangerous wounds. Various groups emerged that churned out extremism, violence, conspiracy theories, racial superiority, misogyny, and xenophobia.

Among those were "QAnon," known for believing in conspiracy theories; the "Proud Boys," whose members are fiercely loyal to Trump; and the "Oath Keepers," a radical "confrontational" group and one of the largest radical anti-government movements in the United States, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The conflict brought America's hidden, primal, and conflicting sentiments to the surface, exposing a very ugly side of the country that many people never saw before. It also exposed the fragility of the rule of law.

Dangerous divisions

The American press predicted the seriousness of these divisions even before the 2020 elections.

In March 2019, The Washington Post published a report headlined, "In America, talk turns to something not spoken of for 150 years: Civil war." It said political analysts on both sides agreed that the country was on the verge of civil war.

It quoted Joseph DiGenova, a commentator on Fox News and a supporter of Trump, as declaring: "We are in a civil war. The suggestion that there's ever going to be civil discourse in this country for the foreseeable future is over. ... It's going to be total war."

In September of that same year, The Wall Street Journal published an investigation that explored the differences between the 2008 and 2018 elections.

Supported by statistics from the Brookings Institution, the investigation captured the clear contrast between the two parties, which "represent radically different slices of the American economy."

Various groups emerged in the aftermath of 6 January that were violent, racist, misogynistic and xenophobic, exposing an ugly side of America that many people never saw before.

While Democrats are concentrated in educated cities and suburbs with abundant professional jobs, Republicans reside in rural areas with working-class, low-skilled agricultural and manufacturing populations.

In his 2020 book We Should Have Seen It Coming, Wall Street Journal columnist Gerald Seib examines the nature of the polarisation between Democrats and Republicans.

He argues that the shift of millions of middle-class and working-class Americans towards the Republican Party is not driven by economic or political factors but rather by cultural reasons.

He explains that many of these voters could not align with the Democratic Party's stances on issues such as abortion, gay rights, prayer in schools, and gun control. For these voters, the party's economic vision took a backseat.

Seib conducted a series of exclusive interviews for the book that helped paint a clearer picture.

When Seib asked Dr. Edward Joseph, a renowned academic at Johns Hopkins University, whether the 6 January attack "revealed another America," Joseph said it did, but explained that President Trump had encouraged this America to come out of hiding.

This was an America that felt threatened by liberal and foreign forces. According to Joseph, the Capitol Hill insurrectionists viewed themselves as patriots defending America.

As the United States gears up for the 2024 presidential election, unofficial polls suggest that many Americans fear the election may again be violent.

Jaradi also examines the developments and factors that could influence the upcoming election, which he portrays as a rematch of the 2020 race.

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