Critical Race Theory Proven

Let’s be clear. If Kyle Rittenhouse were Black, he would never have gone to trial for murder— because the cops would have shot him dead on the spot on the streets of Kenosha.

Speculation? Maybe, but it’s speculation backed up by history.

Under Wisconsin law, and just by virtue of common sense, it’s not self-defense when you create the danger you’re in. You can’t set a fire and then complain that you got burned. The Rittenhouse jury didn’t see it that way, and reasonable people can agree or disagree. But we all know that a Black teenager who took an AR-15 to the scene of a violent protest and used it to shoot two people dead would never be acquitted in an American courtroom, let alone on grounds of self-defense. Even Tucker fucking Carlson knows that. 

It is the height of irony that we should see this verdict at the exact same time when right wing reactionaries all across America, from school boards to barstools to the self-proclaimed world’s greatest deliberative body, are furiously insisting that our children not be taught that there is systemic racism in the DNA of this nation. 

If there was ever more glaring proof of the racial double standard in the American justice system than what just happened in Kenosha, and of the correctness of so-called “critical race theory,” I’d like to see it. 

The micro question of whether Rittenhouse was afraid that he was going to be disarmed and harmed by people who took exception to his action hero wannabe-ism is not the issue here. The issue is what the fuck was he doing on the streets of Kenosha with a combat-style bulletlauncher in the first place? What made him think he was entitled to do that, or that he could get away with it? 

I guess the fact that he did get away with it provides us the answer. And why not? Everything in the culture in which Kyle Rittenhouse was raised told him in no certain terms that it was his God-given right to do so. And this jury just affirmed it.

A civilian vigilante wielding an AR can gun down two unarmed men and claim he was the one who feared for his life? If you’re white, I guess so.

But should we really be surprised? (Black folks sure aren’t.) Three weeks ago, the Nation’s justice correspondent Elie Mystal published a piece titled, “I Hope Everyone Is Prepared for Kyle Rittenhouse to Go Free.” He was spot on, of course. His new piece is called “Kyle Rittenhouse Has Gotten Away With Murder—As Predicted,” in which he sagely notes: “Rittenhouse’s acquittal is not a ‘miscarriage’ of justice, as some might claim. It is our white justice system working as intended.”

For that is the nauseating, fundamental fact at the core of all this.

It was clear that this trial was going to go down this way from the very beginning….and by “beginning,” I mean the whole idea that white boys cosplaying like they’re Navy SEALs in Fallujah are allowed to bring battlefield-type weapons onto the streets of American towns to enforce their own deluded notions of racial justice. That is white privilege at its most extreme. Yes, the prosecution did a poor job of proving its case. But it faced an uphill battle in a game stacked on the white boy’s behalf. 

in The Atlantic, David French—formerly of National Review, now on the outs due to his Never Trumpism—writes:

(T)he nature of self-defense claims (is that they) are not assessed by means of sweeping inquiries into the wisdom of the actions that put the shooter into a dangerous place in a dangerous time. Instead, they produce a narrow inquiry into the events immediately preceding the shooting. The law allows even a foolish man to defend himself, even if his own foolishness put him in harm’s way.

The narrow nature of the self-defense inquiry is one reason people can escape responsibility for killings that are deeply wrongful in every moral sense.

On the night in question, Rittenhouse not only traveled to Kenosha from his hometown in Illinois and started patrolling the streets with an AR, but also falsely told people on the scene that he was an EMT. Did local law enforcement react with alarm? On the contrary. Before the killings, he was given a bottle of water by the cops and told that they “appreciated” what he and other right wing vigilantes were doing. After killing two people and wounding a third, he was allowed to walk away from the scene and go home unmolested. Not under arrest, not with his hands ziptied behind his back and his face pressed down on the blacktop, not with his torso riddled with bulletholes from police firearms. 

Can you imagine a Black teenager with a smoking gun barrel getting the same treatment? In Cleveland in 2014, Tamir Rice, a 12 year old Black child, was shot dead by a (white) policeman just for HOLDING a toy gun.

Can we also remember that the protests in Kenosha were occurring in the first place because, two days before, a white policeman had shot a Black man named Jacob Blake seven times in the back, in front of his three children. (Both the Kenosha DA and US Justice Department later declined to prosecute the officer.) 

Just a few of the other sideshows surrounding this circus:

Rittenhouse claimed he went to Kenosha to protect businesses, and stood in front of one called Car Source that he had no connection to, whose own owners didn’t even know him and certainly hadn’t asked for his help, and—wisely—were themselves nowhere around during the violence. As Trevor Noah said on “The Daily Show”:

Nobody drives into a city with guns because they love someone else’s business that much. That’s some bullshit. No one has ever thought, ‘Oh, it’s my solemn duty to pick up a rifle and protect that TJ Maxx.’ They do it because they’re hoping to shoot someone.

And there was proof of that. Just weeks before the murders, Rittenhouse had been recorded expressing his desire to shoot looters—video that his jury was not allowed to see or hear. (In the footage, which people leaving a CVS pharmacy clutching goods, Rittenhouse is heard to say, “Bro, I wish I had my fucking AR. I’d start shooting rounds at them.”) 

After the killings, and after being bailed out of jail (with $2 million raised from conservative donors and “Free Kyle” t-shirts sold online), Rittenhouse was photographed at a Wisconsin bar wearing a “Free as Fuck” t-shirt and flashing a “white power” sign while posing with members of the Proud Boys.

The right has sneered at the claims that Rittenhouse brought the murder weapon across state lines, and that it was not lawful for him to own it, which they label as liberal misinformation. The whole debate betrays what a farce this is. Rittenhouse’s weapon was a Smith & Wesson M&P 15, one of many variants of the standard American semiautomatic rifle commonly referred to—even by Rittenhouse himself—as an “AR.” (He bought it with his $1200 COVID stimulus check.) It had been purchased for him in Wisconsin and stored there on his behalf by a friend, as Rittenhouse was too young to buy it himself, and it was illegal for him to possess it in Illinois where he lives. If that’s what the right thinks absolves him of the sketchy circumstances of his ownership, and the weapon’s presence in Kenosha, it’s the flimsiest of semantics, but indicative of the dishonesty of the right wing argument. 

What else? Oh yeah: The Missouri couple who waved an AR and a handgun at BLM protestors from the steps of their home visited the trial in support of Rittenhouse. A former cop from Ferguson, MO toting his own AR was there on Kyle’s behalf too. Birds of a feather, amirite? 

Then there was the judge, who refused to allow the two men Rittenhouse killed, Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, to be referred to as “victims.” (By that logic, I guess they’re not dead either, just “un-alive.”) The judge’s cellphone also went off in court, its ringtone country singer Lee Greenwood’s maudlin patriotic anthem “God Bless the USA,” a staple at Trump rallies. 

The judge’s other flaws, from mere eccentricities, to a bad case of “judge brain” acquired during 38 years on the bench, to ill-advised ethnic jokes in open court (or the use of the term “a Black”), have been well-documented. But as Elie Mystal notes, “a sympathetic judge and a predominately white jury are just standard gifts the criminal justice system gives to white boys accused of criminal violence.” 

The jury apparently accepted the defense’s brazen argument that Rittenhouse’s victims (I’m allowed to call them that, right?) were the actual provocateurs of the killings. But after he shot his first victim, Kyle Rittenhouse was by all rights himself an “active shooter.” If people on the scene charged him, whether with skateboards like Mr. Huber or a pistol like Gaige Grosskreutz, a genuine EMT, whom Rittenhouse also shot and wounded but didn’t kill, were they not themselves acting in self-defense on behalf of the entire crowd?

Rittenhouse’s sobbing breakdowns in court—when recounting how he feared for his life, and again when he was acquited—inevitably recalled Brett Kavanaugh, whose tears worked similar magic. For a bunch of people in thrall to machismo, right wingers sure are suckers for crybabies. More to the point, it was notable that Rittenhouse’s pain only came out on his own behalf, not in grief for his victims.

Of course, this case is yet another Rorschach test. Right wing America—mostly ivory colored, it’s fair to say—sees Rittenhouse as a hero, a patriot, as someone who stood up to “lawless” violence (by taking the law into his own hands) to “protect the community.” Needless to say, they don’t see it that way when Black people turn to violence in legitimate self-defense, which this wasn’t. 

Aside from being the latest and most stomach-turning example of the racism that is baked into American society, perhaps the most chilling aspect of this verdict, as many have noted, is that affirms the reactionary view that they (and they alone) are justified in turning to deadly force whenever the fuck they feel like it. 

People of color, and liberals, and everyone else? Not so much.

That is a very dangerous precept at a time when we’re still trying to reckon with a violent right wing attempt to overturn an election on the same deluded grounds.

Even as this verdict came down, we are also watching the trial of three white men in Brunswick, GA for the murder in cold blood of Ahmaud Arbery—defendants who are making the same specious self-defense claim as Rittenhouse—and a civil trial in the infamous “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, VA in 2017, the event that gave us Trump’s “very fine people on both sides.” I am not optimistic about the outcome of either. But I do fully expect to see Rittenhouse feted in person on Fox News, trotted around at GOP campaign rallies, and selling merch on his websiteMatt Gaetz has already suggested he might hire him as an intern. Hell, come January 2025, he’s probably in line for a Cabinet position in Trump Administration 2.0. 

I suspect there will be more on the Rittenhouse verdict and all that it says about America to come in these pages. For now, let us just behold white privilege on display in its most sickening and unjust form. 

*********

Photo: Kyle Rittenhouse (left), in Kenosha, WI, August 25, 2020. Credit: Adam Rogan / The Journal Times/AP

7 thoughts on “Critical Race Theory Proven

  1. And the Supreme Court, in its “supreme” wisdom will probably rule next year that New York state’s 108 year old hand gun licensing law is unconstitutional. This will lead to people carrying unrestricted, concealed handguns in the open “for self defense.” I think I’ll be staying in my house after that. I, a 77-year old, don’t want to lose my life over a stupid “self defense” ruling.

    Like

  2. “Of course, this case is yet another Rorschach test. Right wing America—mostly ivory colored, it’s fair to say—sees Rittenhouse as a hero, a patriot, as someone who stood up to “lawless” violence (by taking the law into his own hands) to “protect the community.” Needless to say, they don’t see it that way when Black people turn to violence in legitimate self-defense, which this wasn’t.”

    Well said.

    Like

  3. Given the looting (stealing) , burning and vandalising of cities across the country last year, I’m wondering how many black people were arrested for their crimes. Whatever the rights or wrongs of people hauling guns to protests, Rittenhouse wasn’t on his own. That’s unfortunate and the right to hear guns is an ongoing debate that is unfortunately leading nowhere.

    Kyle Rittenhouse shot three people.
    The first served 14 years in prison for raping a child and then for dozens of in-prison disciplinary violations. He was a registered sex offender and was found guilty of assault, arson and narcotics crimes. He was wanted at the time of the shooting for bail-jumping and domestic abuse, and had been released from a hospital for a suicide attempt a few hours before the shooting. He was chasing Rittenhouse when Rittenhouse turned around and shot him.

    The second had been convicted of domestic abuse and served time in 2012 for choking his brother. He was swinging his skateboard at Rittenhouse, avidly, at the time Rittenhouse shot him.

    The third, who survived, was armed with a handgun for which he had a concealed weapons permit – which was expired. He testified and the video shows that he pointed the gun at Rittenhouse before Rittenhouse shot him.

    Like

    1. Mary, I admire your continued willingness to engage on my posts, even though we disagree completely about everything, every time. Are you trolling me or am I trolling you?

      You begin by decrying what you—echoing Fox Nation—describe as a wave of rioting two summers ago. Notwithstanding the accuracy of this depiction, or lack thereof, you wonder “how many black people were arrested for their crimes.” Are you suggesting not enough were?

      You also suggest that Rittenhouse’s actions were mitigated because other vigilantes had also gone to Kenosha. How does that have any bearing? And even if it did, none of those other folks pulled their triggers, did they?

      You then detail all the bad things about Rittenhouse’s victims, particularly Joseph Rosenbaum, who was mentally ill. Are you suggesting that Rittenhouse was justified in shooting him (and Anthony Huber) because they had these pasts? If they had been saints with unblemished personal histories, but engaged in the same actions, would their deaths have been less defensible in your view?

      You say that Rosenbaum “was chasing Rittenhouse when Rittenhouse turned around and shot him.” But Rosenbaum was unarmed and Rittenhouse was carrying a semiautomatic Smith & Wesson M&P 15. Which man had more reason to fear for his life?
      The second victim, Huber, was armed with a skateboard. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a fight to the death, but if I were, and were given those options, I think I’d choose the assault rifle. (Not sure though. Depends on what wheels and trucks we’re talking about.)

      You note that the third man— Gaige Grosskreutz, who was shot and severely wounded by Rittenhouse but survived—charged him with a pistol. But at that point Rittenhouse was an active shooter who had already killed two people. In that chaotic scene, no one knew his motives or what else he might do. By your own standards, Grosskreutz fits the same mold as Rittenhouse, as a man with a gun rushing to protect others amid a scene of uncertainty and violence. Is that not so? Did he deserve to be maimed?

      But all of this is really tangential to the point of my essay, which was this: irrespective of the legitimacy of Rittenhouse’s claims of self-defense—which is to say, that he justifiably felt that his life was in danger—he had precipitated that situation in the first place. And he precipitated it out of a shocking sense of white privilege and entitlement. And his acquittal further affirms that, as a society, we endorse that privilege and entitlement, even when it results in the unnecessary loss of human life.

      I look forward to your further thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Shocking to think that this neo-racism is increasing and becoming more systemic, complicated and diabolical. Despite the people Rittehouse shot being possible blights on society, it is a slippery slope if police are supporting vigilantes with guns. Very distressing to read this and think where it leads.

    Like

  5. Trolling seems to have mutated into – if you disagree with me, or keep disagreeing with me you’re a troll.

    We aren’t likely to agree with each other and I know you know it, but bouncing your opinions off the already converted fans on your blog makes it an echo chamber where debate has no place. So, I’ve at least got to say thanks for your response and for allowing me mine.

    CNN attempted to normalise the riots last year by calling them “mostly peaceful”. Unlike CNN, I don’t find the horrific images of vandalism, intimidation, stealing and burning other people’s property with impunity mostly peaceful or in any way acceptable. It’s mob rule. It’s the sort of behaviour that is less a protest and more of an opportunity to break the law.

    Wrong analogy, King’s necktie. Saints with unblemished histories don’t chase people down with evil intent. Those three men chasing after Kyle Rittenhouse weren’t saints and their intent was less than saintly. If I point out their histories it’s because mobs, however they excuse their behaviour, aren’t taken to task. And if they call themselves BLM they can’t be criticised That’s their power. Once you break them down they are individuals with different opinions and agendas.

    Whether or not Kyle Rittenhouse knew that one of the people he was running from had spent 14 years in prison for raping a child isn’t relevant. That he was being chased with intent to damage or kill was relevant.

    Whether or not Rittenhouse knew that one of the men had served time for choking his brother, the gleam in his eye and the heft of his skateboard connecting to the back of his head told Rittenhouse all he needed to know about his intent.

    The third man said he was not intentionally pointing his weapon at Rittenhouse, but during cross-examination agreed that it was pointed at Rittenhouse at the moment he was shot. Kyle Rittenhouse may not have known that this man had a lapsed concealed weapons permit, but he did recognise a pointed handgun when he saw it.

    I don’t know whether “folks” had weapons or thought of using them but it didn’t stop them from causing as much damage as a mob can do Frankly I refuse to believe that Rittenhouse was the only one that day with a weapon. I’d like to see the second amendment amended, but I’d say that if Rittenhouse hadn’t had his gun, the two men he shot would have lived and Rittenhouse would be dead. Those men weren’t planning on a civilised debate.

    As I’m writing this, I’m hearing that Darrell E Brooks a BLM activist intentionally drove his SUV through barricades and into a crowd celebrating the Waukesha Christmas parade. I think it’s time to stop stereotyping white people as privileged and pretending that all black people are saints. I think individuals should be judged on their actions.

    There are any number of black politicians and bureaucrats in the US today and there has been a black President in recent times. I remember the hysteria surrounding the nomination of a black man as candidate for President. If he wasn’t elected it wasn’t because he hadn’t the credentials, or because his politics didn’t necessarily align with all voters. No it was because he was black and if a black man wasn’t elected, it would prove that all white people were racist. He was elected twice. But white people are still the privileged ones and only white people are capable of being racist. Let’s just see what excuses are made for Darrell E Brooks by the black community.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s