Like many others, I’ve spent a lot of time lately watching the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, and reading comments about it from people who obviously haven’t been watching it. They don’t think they need to watch it, because they’re getting reports about it from the corporate news.
What they’ve learned from these reports, briefly put, is that Rittenhouse is a white supremacist who, desperate to take innocent lives, transported a deadly weapon across state lines, to a city he had no business being in, and ended up shooting three black people in cold blood.
“There is proof he is part of [a] right-wing extremist group and wanted to go kill people not protect places,” somebody close to me asserted on social media. Rittenhouse’s mother “drove him across state lines” so he could “join a militia . . . group of vigilantes.” And so on. All, apparently, based on news stories in the mainstream media.
Those of us who’ve watched the trial have a different set of facts: This is a young man who worked in Kenosha and lived just outside of it. It was his town in the way that New York is your town if you live in Hoboken and commute across the river. There’s no evidence he belonged to a militia, a vigilante group, or any kind of right-wing organization.
He went into Kenosha in the middle of a summer of hate because he wanted to help protect people and property from the real extremists, the real makers of mayhem. His gun was already there. He had every right to own it and carry it.
Meanwhile, all over the country, spoiled, irresponsible, psychopathic young people were committing every imaginable variety of crime—acts of assault and battery, vandalism, and arson. Homes and businesses were being wantonly destroyed.
And it was all being done in the name of a big lie—namely, that harmless black people were being murdered in massive numbers by racist police officers. In Kenosha, the crime that Antifa and Black Lives Matter rioters were supposedly reacting to was the shooting of Jacob Blake.
On August 23 of last year, Blake’s ex-girlfriend, who had taken out a restraining order on him after he’d sexually assaulted her multiple times, called 911 to report that Blake, who had a warrant out for his arrest, had assaulted her again. When the police arrived, they found him in his car with three of his six young children, whom he’d taken from his ex’s home.
The police tried to arrest him but he resisted violently. They drew their guns, but instead of cooperating with them, he stepped out of the car, walked around it, and reached into a car window, apparently for the knife that was later found there. When one of the officers shouted, “Drop the knife!” Blake continued to resist, whereupon the officer shot him. He survived but was left partially paralyzed from the waist down.
For a week, Kenosha was engulfed in riots sparked by the Blake shooting. Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, instead of standing up for law and order, sent a pathetically small contingent of National Guard members to Kenosha, and meanwhile parroted the BLM line that Blake was a martyr, that the cop who’d shot him was guilty of police brutality, and that the rioters were justified in their rage.
The corporate media, too, parroted this line. And millions of Americans believed it.
Many of us have long since learned not to trust the corporate news, but millions still do. It’s impossible to try to talk sense to these people. If you tell them that the New York Times, the Washington Post, ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, and CNN are all liars, telling the same lies, how can you expect them to believe you?
Which brings us to Kyle Rittenhouse and the events of August 26, three days after the shooting of Jacob Blake.
I wasn’t going to write about Rittenhouse. I have no special knowledge about the case. And I figured that a lot of people were going to be out there, saying pretty much what I have to say. But ultimately I decided that it was better to have too many people standing up for Rittenhouse than too few.
One of those who’ve stood up impressively is Peachy Keenan, who on November 15, in the American Mind, declared unequivocally: “I stand with Kyle Rittenhouse. He is plainly innocent of murder.” Recalling the ritual torture of innocent children in primitive civilizations, Keenan noted that today’s “bankrupt elites” are out to make a similar sacrifice of this “boy with a good and noble heart.”
Indeed. Many of those who’ve condemned the prosecution of Rittenhouse have nonetheless qualified their remarks by adding, “Well, of course he had no business being there.” How ridiculous, some of them say, for a 17-year-old child to interfere in such a situation!
Do they forget that 17-year-olds can enlist in the U.S. military? That we’ve sent 17-year-olds to fight on our behalf in highly dangerous places on the other side of the globe?
Why, then, is it so outrageous for Rittenhouse to have tried to defend his city from an army of savages bent on destruction?
In an otherwise estimable article for the American Spectator, Dov Fischer called Rittenhouse “a bit of a fool,” although he immediately qualified that statement by adding that “sometimes fools must enter when ‘wiser men’ won’t” and that “[t]o the degree that he foresaw that local Kenosha police would lose control of the night, he is a hero.”
Yes, he is a hero. And he’s a fool only in the sense that every noble, selfless soul is a fool—putting his community before himself.
When I was a kid, we’d have to write essays in school about leadership and citizenship and responsibility. Back then, they wanted us to grow up to be responsible citizens. They wanted us to lead. That’s what Rittenhouse was doing. Somewhere, somehow, he picked up those old values.
And they made him, in Keenan’s words, “a do-gooder by nature,” eager to help others. He enrolled in the cadet programs in the Antioch Fire Department and Grayslake Police Department. He learned first aid, and was administering it that night in Kenosha before he was confronted by three berserk lowlifes who were determined to kill him.
Brought up by a single mother who worked hard as a nurse, Rittenhouse could’ve claimed victim status. Instead, he strove to be a good citizen.
He is America. Or he’s what America—or at least Middle America—was, back in the days before David Letterman-like irony soiled everything, before morality was relativized away, before the movies began celebrating cop-killers like Bonnie and Clyde as folk heroes.
Rittenhouse is corny America, apple-pies-cooling-on-window sills America, 4-H Club America, Booth Tarkington America.
The America we’ve all long since been taught to laugh at.
He’s the young George Bailey of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” saving his future war hero brother from drowning and saving Mr. Gower, the druggist, from prison because he knows the old man, distracted by personal tragedy, mistakenly put poison in somebody’s medicine.
Go ahead, laugh at him.
For such a young man, being in Kenosha to protect property from rioters was a no-brainer. Before he was forced to kill two aggressive characters who tried to kill him, he was cleaning up graffiti.
Yes, a fool. A precious, beautiful fool.
He shouldn’t have been there? No, the rioters shouldn’t have been there. They shouldn’t have been in Portland, in Seattle, in any of the many other cities where they wreaked havoc. Why do we accept—unthinkingly—that all those hooligans had a right to be there, but Rittenhouse didn’t?
Why do we accept that he’s the one on trial? He’s the last one who should be on trial. Not only the rioters but the politicians and media people who egged them on and whitewashed their depredations should be the legitimate targets of prosecution.
Yes, Rittenhouse took a gun with him for protection. It turned out he was correct to judge he needed it. It also turned out, as details emerged at his trial, that he wasn’t just a terrific shot—he was also excellently trained in gun safety. Unlike, say, Alec Baldwin. And unlike the staggeringly fatuous prosecutor who, during Rittenhouse’s own trial, in violation of the most basic gun-safety rules, pointed a rifle at the jury.
No, if 17-year-old Marines can be sent to restore order in Mogadishu, then a 17-year-old citizen, in a city whose people have pretty much been left by their governor to fend for themselves, has every right to try to keep the order in his own backyard. We should be angry not that he did what he did, but that dozens of others in Kenosha and its environs didn’t do the same.
Remember Nick Sandmann? He was minding his own business outside the Lincoln Memorial on January 19, 2019, when he and his classmates from a Catholic school in Covington, Kentucky, were harassed by not one but two groups that the corporate media dare not criticize—Black Hebrew Israelites and Native Americans. While a creepy old man screamed in his face, Sandmann, then 16, stood there stoically, a model of preternaturally grown-up decency and restraint.
But because he and his friends were wearing MAGA caps, another story was cooked up and sold to the public. So instead of being praised for his self-control, Sandmann was cast as a white supremacist. Even his local bishop joined in the pile-on. In the end, Sandmann was vindicated, and won large settlements from several of the media organizations that had lied about him.
But now the same media, apparently not having learned their lesson from the Sandmann affair, are doing much the same thing to Kyle Rittenhouse.
I’d already been thinking about the parallels between Nick Sandmann and Kyle Rittenhouse when the Daily Mail published, on November 16, an open letter to Rittenhouse by Sandmann, spelling out the similarities between their plights and offering his support and advice. It was a remarkably classy and mature piece of writing, addressed to one courageous young Midwesterner by another.
These are young men who once would have been recognized by everybody around them as models of American youth.
No more. Today’s youth heroes, if you listen to the corporate media, are kids like gun-control activist David Hogg and climate-change scold Greta Thunberg. Neither of them has taken anywhere near the kind of risks that Rittenhouse took on that night in Kenosha. Neither has anything special to offer by way of insight or eloquence.
In fact, they’re both obnoxious, bratty mediocrities. But they champion causes of which the corporate media approves. And so Hogg got into Harvard, despite lousy grades. Meanwhile, Greta can probably end up as secretary-general of the U.N., if she wants.
In these twisted times, even the truly evil gangsters of MS-13 get a kinder word from our political leaders and media superstars than the likes of Kyle Rittenhouse. Remember that when Trump called MS-13 “animals”—which is an insult to animals—House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) rebuked him, asserting that even MS-13 members were “children of God”? Has she said anything remotely as generous about Kyle Rittenhouse, whom millions of Democratic voters and MSM parrots hate far more than they ever hated MS-13? Of course not.
It’s no coincidence that the two people Rittenhouse killed were human scum. He didn’t go there to kill. They did. They were used to harming others. Anthony Huber, who was shot dead when he hit Rittenhouse with a skateboard, had a long rap sheet of domestic battery and other offenses, including assaults on his mother and grandmother; Joseph Rosenbaum, who was shot when he tried to kill Rittenhouse and grab his gun, had been indicted on 11 counts of child molestation and spent several years in prison.
Earlier that evening he’d committed several potentially deadly acts of psychotic mayhem, including setting a Dumpster on fire and trying to push it toward some police cars. He’d also been heard shouting the N-word—as part of a riot that was represented in the media as an assertion of black dignity.
Huber and Rosenbaum are perfect examples of the kind of demented, misanthropic creeps who were out in Kenosha that night, determined to destroy decent people’s homes and businesses. But at Rittenhouse’s trial, these two hoodlums were depicted by the prosecution as virtuous victims. Outside the courthouse, anti-Rittenhouse protesters have waved pictures of them, claiming them as martyrs.
This is the upside-down world we live in now. If so many of us are so concerned about Kyle Rittenhouse’s verdict, it’s because he embodies so much about the America we love—the America of goodness and decency that the Left has been bushwhacking for decades (and decrying as racist) and that Donald Trump sought to restore. If they succeed in destroying this young man’s life, it will be cruel testimony to the degree to which their lies, their cynicism, and their sordid values have won the day in this country that some of us, at least, still love.
First published in American Greatness.