A Civil War Between America’s Privileged Has Arrived

The coup attempt at the U.S. Capitol was 2021’s first strike — and things could get uglier

Bonsu Thompson
LEVEL
Published in
5 min readJan 9, 2021

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Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Today’s free world is white-hot.

The Divided States of America seethes from both ends. One half includes the Donald Trump faithful, which days ago stormed, scaled, and penetrated the U.S. Capitol like a ninth-century Scandinavian platoon. They accredit their rage to the phantom of a rigged election and the reality of electoral votes putting a final nail in the coffin of their defeated leader.

It’s also quite possible that the catalyst was Georgia painting both its Senate seats indigo — one secured by a Black man — which added insult to an already injured red party.

Liberals populate the second hemisphere. Those who not only voted for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris but also, despite their blood-orange president, helped pump new blue into American democracy over the past few years. They made household names of elected officials like Levar Stoney, AOC, and now Jon Ossoff. Although liberals and Trumpeteers are marketed as nemeses, their primary makeup and inspiration are uncomfortably identical. White people make up the majority on both sides. Most noteworthy, both so-called sworn enemies are fueled by the same octane: patriotic entitlement. As if mean-mugging their reflection, they stand appalled at the other side’s audacity to challenge their birthright and power: privilege. White privilege, to be specific. How dare they not claim me victor? How dare they not acknowledge my triumph?

With Democrats as current victors gripping tight to the reins of momentum, it’s no surprise that conservatives would tap into their muscle memory of 1861. Although liberals pick up and drop Black Lives Matter allyship like a seasonal sport, their precious democracy — flimsy and sullied — must be protected at all costs. Welcome to the civil war of 2021, even when the opposition shares roots.

It’s sad that the United States has done such a relentless job of painting melanin on the face of racial unrest that it missed this clash boiling for much of 2020. It was a year of purpled American anger, of police loaning law and order to armed civilians who eventually committed White-on-White crime…

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Bonsu Thompson
LEVEL
Writer for

Bonsu Thompson is a writer, producer, Brooklynite and 2019 Sundance Screenwriters Lab fellow.