Rittenhouse likes Trump, guns and police. No, that doesn't make him or anyone else suspicious
By Gary Abernathy
Five lessons to be learned from the Rittenhouse case
In my latest Washington Post column, I suggest five lessons that should be learned from the case of Kyle Rittenhouse, who was acquitted Friday in the deaths of two men and the wounding of a third during unrest in Kenosha, Wisc., in August 2020.
…some of our most renowned media sources will rush to judgment when a story can serve to indict supporters of former president Donald Trump. No surprise there… the New York Times helped set the tone by reporting that Rittenhouse’s “social media accounts appeared to show an intense affinity for guns, law enforcement and President Trump,” a description that puts millions of Americans, by association, under a pall of suspicion. The narrative of “a possible vigilante attack carried out by a young white man,” as the Associated Press chimed in, took root — and the facts never caught up.
Indeed, Rittenhouse had apparently attended a Trump rally sometime before the Kenosha tragedy, and on Tuesday he asked to meet with Trump at Mar-a-Lago, where the picture above was taken. For me, Trump surrendered his right to be supported again for president by his refusal to accept the 2020 election results and his part in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. But just like any other citizen, Rittenhouse can support any politician, Democrat or Republican, of his choosing. Implying that Rittenhouse’s support for Trump and “an affinity” for guns and law enforcement led him to carry out vigilante justice is the height of disrespect toward millions of law-abiding citizens who share an appreciation for the same three things.
I note that the decision by local leaders to appease rioters in cities where protests turned violent was disastrous and deadly.
It is not surprising when a law-enforcement void left by dithering authorities is filled by citizens taking to the streets to protect private businesses and public property. The worst outcome of angry rioters combined with armed citizens played out in Kenosha.
Black Americans have legitimate grievances when it comes to disparities in our justice system. (Even Rittenhouse himself acknowledged as much in an interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, where he rightfully wondered aloud whether he would have received the same verdict if he was black.)
But I point out that doing the same things over and over again will simply lead to the same failed outcome.
Failure being the persistent result, a new path seems logical. It would include a media devoted to patiently gathering facts and restricting heated rhetoric and alarmism; an aggrieved community strictly adhering to peaceful protest, despite its justified anger; leaders responding to unrest, when necessary, with a response from trained police sufficient to protect life and property; and real social justice reforms that the left proposes and the right must embrace.
At the end of the day, Kyle Rittenhouse is no hero, and he should not be celebrated as such by the right or anyone else. He’s also not a villain. At age 17, he made a dumb decision to take a semiautomatic rifle to a riot in progress, and he ended up killing two people. The killings were found to be justifiable self-defense. But there’s nothing to celebrate, on any side of the political divide.
You can find the column here. Subscription may be required if you’ve reached your limit of free articles for the month.
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Might as well make it an all-Washington Post day by recommending this lengthy analysis by the Post’s Carlos Lozada of the New York Times’ “1619 Project,” and how it has morphed from a history lesson to political activism. Take the time to read it, it’s worth it. Just click here.
‘Capehart & Abernathy’ on Rittenhouse, BBB legislation
It was an honor to fill in for David Brooks for three weeks on the PBS NewsHour’s Friday analysis segments with Jonathan Capehart and host Judy Woodruff. My third go-round was this past Friday, where we discussed the Rittenhouse verdict and passage of the Build Back Better bill along strictly partisan lines in the House. You can watch it above.
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