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KPBS Midday Edition

Is The US Headed For A Second Civil War?

People fly into the air as a vehicle drives into a group of protesters demonstrating against white nationalists in Charlottesville, Va. on Aug. 12, 2017. Kelly won a Pulitzer Prize for the image.
Ryan M. Kelly The Daily Progress via AP
People fly into the air as a vehicle drives into a group of protesters demonstrating against white nationalists in Charlottesville, Va. on Aug. 12, 2017. Kelly won a Pulitzer Prize for the image.
Barbara F. Walter, a professor of political scientist at UC San Diego who also blogs about political violence, said the frequency of domestic terrorist attacks are one of a handful of factors researchers consider when looking at indicators of a possible second civil war in the U.S.

An increase in violent domestic terrorism like the mass shooting at the Chabad of Poway, the attempted arson attack at an Escondido mosque and the mass shootings in a Pittsburgh synagogue and at the Charleston African Methodist Episcopal church are part of a trend that have caught the attention of political scientists who study civil wars.

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Barbara F. Walter is a professor of political science at UC San Diego who also blogs about political violence. She said the frequency of these attacks are one of a handful of factors researchers consider when looking at indicators of a possible second civil war in the U.S.

"The two biggest risk factors are associated with the outbreak of civil war are the transition to and from democracy, yes democracy, and increasing fractionalization in society — so when populations become more polarized either ethnically, racially, based on religion or class — and both of those features have emerged (in the U.S.) relatively quickly over the last two years," Walter said.

Walter said while she does not believe a second civil war will happen in the U.S. it's still important to discuss the topic. For more detail, listen to her interview on KPBS Midday Edition.