They wanted a second Civil War which, what can you say to that? With all the lessons of history at our fingertips, to want such a thing . . . They had guns and they had hate and they thought that was all they needed to win a war.

But hate is not a superpower so much as it is a cause for indigestion and guns, well, guns can do a lot of things: stop a threat, destroy a lock, start a race. There are also things guns can’t do: slake your thirst, prevent your baby from getting the measles, hold up a bridge.

They sent us their list of demands:

“Give us the Muslims, the abortion providers, the “illegals.” Give us the un-Christian and the non-white. Give us the polyglots and the alphabet identities.”

We said, “No.”

They assembled. They turned leftover fireworks into missiles that could do some real harm at a close enough range.

We asked them to lay down their arms, to talk with us. Surely we could come to an understanding?

They began their march. They loaded big trucks with big men holding big guns. They headed our way.

We asked them not to make us do this. Was this really what they wanted?

They said they wanted our blood.

We sighed. We wept. We turned away.

Before they ever got to us they started turning on each other for food, water, perceived slights, real slights, and who knows what else. We don’t know whether or not they kept many records but if they did we haven’t found them. It wasn’t just their violence that took them out. It was bridge collapses and maternal mortality. It was hospitals that were willing to serve the passing militias but didn’t have anything to offer after being raided for opioids in the chaos days.

In their cities, where they had left their elders, their women, their children, the infrastructure slowly but surely crumbled. Water stopped being treated. In some cases, it stopped running altogether. Waste was not collected. Those receiving food assistance no longer got their meals. Those receiving medical assistance were now largely on their own.

By the time they reached our borders, surrounded our cities, barricaded our highways, their situation was desperate.

Our cities were built to be sanctuaries and we invited them in for food and water, for medicine and healing, if only they would lay down their weapons and cease their senseless violence.

Instead, they set up a siege around our perimeters as best they could. Our cities didn’t have walls for them to aim their weapons at but they made threatening displays all the same.

We watched them die slowly, so slowly. We offered help until the end, but they would not take it. Better to die, they said, than take help from the likes of us.

We buried their dead and rebuilt their cities.

Today is not a day of celebration.

It is our day of mourning, our national advent, for all the senseless deaths of the Second Civil War.

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