SAY WHAT? - So pudgy little blank-eyed sociopath Kyle Rittenhouse walked, an outcome both deeply disturbing and woefully unsurprising given the right-wing noise, the broken jury, the hack bigot of a judge, and don't forget the bedrock white supremacism that an American so-called justice system is designed to uphold. Thus, the unanimous verdict that a dumb-as-a-rock 17-year-old punk who took it upon himself to cross a state border toting an ill-begotten assault rifle to "protect" businesses was not guilty of anything in a country where you face harsher consequences for offering water to thirsty voters in line than murdering two BLM protesters; where a skateboard is deemed a deadly weapon and an AR-15 is a "first aid kit"; where, "Ha, let the boy be black and it would've been life." Swiftly and repulsively cheering on the implausible finding of young Kyle's "innocence" were multiple sick, white, damaged, insecure yahoos and bullies masquerading as alleged GOP members of Congress. A gleeful Madison Cawthorn intoned, "Be armed, be dangerous and be moral" - no cognitive dissonance there - and neo-Nazi Paul Gosar funned (his specialty) that he'll arm-wrestle Matt Gaetz to hire Kyle for an intern if he somehow manages to graduate high school, and quizzed constituents whether Kyle should get a Congressional Medal of Honor - options "Yes" and "Yes again." Also former guy praised Kyle as "a law-abiding...CHILD." One patriot spoke for us all: "Fuck the Republican Party."
Also inevitably rejoicing, and scarily saying the quiet parts out loud, were the hate-mongering, bottom-feeding, proudly out anti-Semites and white supremacists who've crawled out of their fetid swamps and caves to embrace awful little Kyle as one of their own. It's ugly: "INFINITE SIEG FUCKING HEILS!....Open season on lib trash commies!...Antifags and BLMKKK gotta be shitting....Sieg Kyle!...DO YOU SEE, WHITE MAN? We still have power...Sorry kikes, better luck next time...As far as the media is concerned, (Kyle) should have let those anti-Whites murder him for being White...You were warned...Kyle is already suiting up to patrol Jews tonight...Do not use this as an excuse to relax - we are still being genocided, raped & erased daily." As though this was not a country bathed in blood and conquest where white men have long used guns with impunity to get what they want - against black kids buying Skittles, lefty protesters armed with skateboards, black men out jogging - many celebrated "a major turning point in the quest for justice" wherein, "We can protect our communities now!" "We have permission to defend ourselves," exulted one; when another challenged that with, "We don't need fucking permission and never did," a third chimed in, "But now it's a legal precedent." Cheered the neo-Nazi Occidental Templars, "Good American legal precedent and license to kill violent commies."
In fact, of course, the precedent and license is longstanding. We can thank the NRA, who "gave us Kyle Rittenhouse" and all the other "white men hopped up on cowboy fantasies (who) went out looking for trouble and waving guns at it" through a decades-long battle to re-define "self-defense." We can also thank our savage history. Patrick Blanchfield, a writer who teaches at Brooklyn Institute for Social Research, peers back to 1816, when Andrew Jackson unilterally invaded Spanish Florida to decimate a "Negro Fort" of Natives and runaway slaves in what was deemed an act of “national self-defense” - because it turns out the much-touted 2nd Amendment right to "self-defence" applies only to propertied white men to whom "the mere presence of non-white others (is) seen as an existential threat." Thus is Kyle Rittenhouse, writes Blanchfield, "but the latest iteration in a long line of American men who have decided to insert themselves and their guns into situations in which they somehow find themselves compelled to kill." They "vindicate an entire hierarchical social order by exercising their prerogative to assert ballistic control over space and dispose of the bodies of others"; their all-American - even killers' - "recourse to armed self-defense, he notes, likely entirely coincidentally "tends to favor those left standing when the the gunsmoke clears - and has since the very beginning." In such a grievous way, at least for now, "The system abides."
Update: So does Tucker Carlson, who it turns out had a Fox News crew embedded with Rittenhouse through the trial. WTF.
(Abby Zimet has written CD's Further column since 2008. A longtime, award-winning journalist, involved in women's, labor, anti-war, social justice and refugee rights issues.)