Wineke: Kyle Rittenhouse isn’t heroic
The political right in America has a new hero, vigilante Kyle Rittenhouse, who traveled to Kenosha from his home in Antioch, Ill. a year ago to engage in racial protests and ended up killing two men, one armed with an apparently deadly skateboard.
Rittenhouse was found not guilty of murdering the men, plus a third – who was armed –and, then, walking away.
Personally, I don’t have a major problem with the verdict. For some inexplicable reason, our laws make it legal for people to wade into demonstrations carrying rifles and shoot others who try to stop them. The jury, in this case, spent quite a long time deliberating the charges and came to a conclusion that Rittenhouse was legally protected.
This doesn’t make moral sense but a jury is obligated to deal with the laws as written not as we might like them to be.
What has happened since, however, is a moral outrage. Rittenhouse is now being lionized.
Former President Donald Trump met with him and pronounced him a fine young man. Fox News personality Sean Hannity interviewed him. Another Fox News celebrity, Tucker Carlson, had a film crew at the trial and is planning a special. Some idiot congressmen and congresswomen are offering him internships on their staff. And Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene wants to award him a Congressional Gold Medal.
If he were five years older I would expect that he would scorn internships and just run for Congress himself and might even win.
So, we’ve set another new low – which, in today’s political environment, just means it’s Friday – in our national discourse. Now killing people is seen as a cause for celebrity.
This is all pretty depressing. It won’t stop demonstrations or, even, riots. It will just make them more deadly.
The worst consequences to this chapter came to those Rittenhouse shot. There is no evidence whatsoever that any of them were involved in looting or destruction. They were raising their voices in opposition to the shooting of a Black man by police. And, when they saw Rittenhouse with a rifle, they tried to stop him. They did not deserve to die.
Rittenhouse will face consequences, too, consequences that go beyond the trauma of being tried for murder.
Being lionized as a hero is hard on one’s soul. Rittenhouse is almost surely going to become rich solely because he killed two men and wounded another. He will be famous.
Then, he will be dumped.
Because, aside from killing innocent people, he really doesn’t have much going for him. And none of those people milking his story for their own political and financial ends actually care a whit about Kyle or his future.
So the moral of this story is that there isn’t any moral of this story, just tales of bad judgment and greed.
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