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Here is an example of the above expression.

A news reporter asked a female psychologist whether she believed Mr. Trump represented a threat to the survival of American society. Then she answered, "I wouldn’t be speaking up unless it rose to that level. It may come to that.”

Does she mean that the chance of her speaking up is high? Does this expression suggest her strong determination to come forward in public when she notices such a threat?

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The reporter asked her if, "Mr. Trump represented a threat to the survival of American society." when she replies with, "I wouldn’t be speaking up unless it rose to that level..." That level being 'a threat to the survival of American society,' - or something just as bad.

When she says "It may come to that" she's suggesting that that level may happen, or maybe that it is happening.

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No. It is not (specifically) about her speaking, and it's almost the reverse of what you suggest.

It means "It is possible that things may get as bad as that", (i.e. "bad enough for ... ".

However, her first sentence is rather confused: "I wouldn't be speaking up unless ... " invites the inference "I am speaking up therefore it has risen to that"; but the simple past "rose" implies an irrealis, meaning that it hasn't risen to that.

So her general meaning is reasonably clear, but I can't actually analyse it. Rather like trying to understand almost anything that Trump says, really.

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    It's purrfeckly good AmE. I wouldn't be speaking up unless he presented such a danger. .... if he did not present such a danger. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 4 '18 at 23:46
  • OK, I accept that reading @Tᴚoɯɐuo; but then it's inconsistent with the second sentence: she is speaking up therefore it has got to that level; but then she says that it may do so, i.e. it hasn't yet. – Colin Fine Jan 5 '18 at 15:40
  • But it is a "threat". Unless it rose to the level of a threat, I wouldn't speak up. "It may come to that" might refer to the thing worse than the threat, the actuality. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 5 '18 at 21:02

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