Protesters rally for the removal of a Confederate statue known as Silent Sam from the campus of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill on Aug. 22, 2017. Some similarities between today's political scene in the United States and that of the late 1850s can seem striking. But they do not mean America is on the brink of another civil war.
Is the United States on the brink of a new civil war? October's awful events -- pipe bombs sent to leading Democratic politicians and supporters, the mass shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh -- have only amplified fears that such a conflict could break out within the next few years. "We are now nearing a point comparable to 1860," Stanford University's Victor Davis Hanson recently wrote in the National Review. The historian Niall Ferguson suggested in The Sunday Times of London that if someone were to design a "Civil War Clock" comparable to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' "Doomsday Clock," the designer would probably now be announcing that it is "two minutes to Fort Sumter." Ferguson himself is more upbeat, thinking that "the time on the civil war Doomsday Clock looks more like 11.08 than 11.58." It seems to me, though, that all these speculations are deeply misleading -- so...
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