The Rittenhouse Not-Guilty Verdict
Will Pave the Way For More Dead Leftists
Bill Berkowitz / BuzzFlash
(November 22, 2021) — What is next for the 18-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse? Besides an appearance with Tucker Carlson, will he be accepting a position on some far-right Republican Congress person’s staff? A Congressional Medal of Honor as suggested by recently censured Republican Congressman Paul Gosar? A Man-Of-The-Year Award from The Proud Boys or the National Rifle Association? Will he become a featured speaker at Stop the Steal rallies and MAGA events? A subject of a biopic produced by Steve Bannon? Is a visit to Mar-a-Lago and dinner with the former president, who congratulated him on the not guilty verdict, in his future?
Whatever the future holds for Rittenhouse, it is clear that the verdict encourages right-wing vigilantism. The far-right’s reaction to his “not guilty” verdict in the murder trial on charges of first-degree intentional homicide (among other charges) in the deaths of Joseph Rosenbaum, 36 and Anthony Huber, 26 — was quick, ugly, threatening and predictable.
Far-right groups are celebrating and interpreting the not-guilty verdict as an open invitation to others to copycat Rittenhouse’s actions in the name of self-defense. (For a legal analysis of trials proceeding, “Here’s what legal experts say helped acquit Kyle Rittenhouse”)
The New York Times’ Charles Blow wrote: “… perhaps the most problematic aspect of this case was that it represented yet another data point in the long history of some parts of the right valorizing white vigilantes who use violence against people of color and their white allies.”
“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.”
“Gab, a social media platform known as a haven for white nationalists, has sent users an email newsletter urging them to ‘buy firearms and form Christian militias as the Bible and our Constitution allows,’” Alex Kaplan, a researcher with the left-leaning watchdog group Media Matters tweeted.
Newsweek’s Daniel Villarreal reported that “VDare — a racist, anti-immigration website associated with several prominent white supremacists and alt-right leaders — called Rittenhouse ‘the hero we’ve been waiting for throughout the turbulent summer of 2020, where a Black Lives Matter/Antifa/Bolshevik revolution has our country on the brink of total chaos,’ according to Michael Hayden, a researcher with the anti-hate watchdog group the Southern Poverty Law Center.”
In addition, noted Villarreal, “Images of Rittenhouse surrounded by Nazi symbols have also appeared on channels on Gab, Telegram and Discord, Buzzfeed News reported. The channels where these images were found are popular with QAnon conspiracy theorists, militant groups and other white supremacists.”
Recently censured Republican Congressman Paul Gosar tweeted: “Should #KyleRittenhouse get a congressional Medal of Honor for selflessly protecting the lives and property of the people from an armed mob of arsonists and criminals?”
“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,” Alex Newhouse of the Middlebury Institute’s Center on Terrorism, Extremism, and Counterterrorism told BuzzFeed.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler called for the Justice Department to investigate the “miscarriage of justice.” Others have called for a federal civil rights case against Rittenhouse. This is a critically necessary response to put the brakes on a potential open season for gun-toting militants.
According to Fox News’ Jonathan Turley, “Rittenhouse could face lawsuits from the families of the deceased or from Gaige Grosskreutz, who survived being shot in the arm. That includes wrongful death actions much like the litigation against O.J. Simpson after he was acquitted for the killings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman. However, he was then found guilty in a torts lawsuit brought by the Goldman family and ordered to pay $33.5 million. Those damages later rose to $58 million.”
Kyle Rittenhouse is slated to have his fifteen minutes and probably a whole lot more. According to The Hill, “Fox News announced a ‘Tucker Carlson Originals’ documentary to air on Fox Nation in December that will include behind-the-scenes footage of Rittenhouse’s defense team during his trial and additional clips of an interview Carlson is set to have with Rittenhouse on Monday.
”The bigger question is: How many other Kyle Rittenhouse’s are there out there waiting in the shadows, spurred to take action in the name of self-defense? Will social justice demonstrators become even more vulnerable to right-wing vigilantes?
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