Mark C. Eades / The Daily Kos
(November 22, 2021) — There will be blood—
White supremacists and others on the far right are celebrating the acquittal of Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse, and the tone of their celebrations appears to confirm fears that their new hero’s acquittal will inspire more right-wing violence.
Following the acquittal, right-wing social media platform Gab sent out an email encouraging its users to “buy firearms and form Christian militias.” As NPR reports, celebratory online comments by members of the Proud Boys included a call for dead leftists to be “stacked up like cord wood,” further indicating that the Rittenhouse acquittal will be seen as license to carry out similar acts of violence disguised as “self-defense”:
“This might be interpreted across the far right as a type of permission slip to do this kind of thing or to seek out altercations in this way, believing that there is a potential that they won’t face serious consequences for it,” said Jared Holt, a resident fellow at the Digital Forensic Research Lab at the Atlantic Council. “I worry that that might end up being interpreted by some people as a proof of concept of this idea that you can actually go out and seek a ‘self-defense situation,’ and you’ll be cheered as a hero for it.”
“Rittenhouse’s acquittal has already been adopted as a justification for future violence,” observed Alex Newhouse of the Middlebury Institute’s Center on Terrorism, Extremism, and Counterterrorism in Newsweek, “Many see it as a blank check to use violence at leftist protests, others see it as a spark in a coming civil or race war.”
Newhouse commented further at BuzzFeed:
“The ‘saints’ of the far right include the Charleston, Christchurch, Poway, Pittsburgh, and El Paso shooters… and now they also include Rittenhouse…. They have all rallied around Rittenhouse as a person who walks the walk of revolutionary [and] accelerationist myth; he actually went out onto the streets and took violent action against protesters….
There’s precedent for acquittals like this to be used in inciting to and carrying out further violence…. Already, the far right is using Rittenhouse’s full acquittal as tacit approval of at least vigilante violence — and, in many cases, they’re calling for the expansion of anti-leftist political violence more broadly.”
Meanwhile in Congress, Nazi tourism enthusiast Madison Cawthorn, white supremacist one-man freak show Paul Gosar, and sex-trafficking frat boy Matt Gaetz all want Rittenhouse to come and work for them as a congressional intern, as a reward for killing leftists and getting away with it, and so that he can roam the corridors of the Capitol trying to intimidate liberal congresswomen. Cawthorn also celebrated Rittenhouse’s acquittal by telling his supporters to follow the latter’s example, “be armed,” and “be dangerous.”
None of this bodes well for America’s near future, as progressive commentators observe with alarm. “Kyle Rittenhouse’s future looks hideously bright,” writes Kali Holloway at The Daily Beast, “What his trial ultimately proved beyond a reasonable doubt is that white supremacy is the only law that truly matters, the one organizing principle of American society that provides grounds for any action taken in its name.”
As Ja’han Jones further observes at MSNBC, “Conservatives are encouraging white vigilantes like Rittenhouse to police progressive spaces by all means.” According to MSNBC legal analyst Maya Wiley, “We’re in more danger today than yesterday.”
Trying hard to be optimistic, but finding it a little bit more difficult each day.
Mark C. Eades is a writer, educator, California voter, and member of Democrats Abroad currently working in Asia.
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