The Worst Possible People For the Worst Possible Moment
Liberal reactions to the Rittenhouse verdict show that they're hopelessly out of touch with political reality
The not guilty verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial generated a large number of takes, and none were more pathologically unconnected with current reality than those from liberal Democrats and their allies in the media.
Rittenhouse, the 18-year-old who a year ago during the George Floyd protests traveled from Illinois to Kenosha, Wisconsin, armed himself with an assault rifle, and killed two while injuring one, was found not guilty Friday on all five counts.
In response, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes wondered if Rittenhouse would forego the fame and fortune he’s guaranteed as a right-wing hero in exchange for turning his life around.
It's a depressing response—and one that shows how out of touch with the current political moment liberals are.
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The acquittal was welcomed by those on the right. Selective free press advocate and Fox News company man Glenn Greenwald cheered on the verdict; Islamophobe Ayaan Hirsi-Ali said she was “celebrating” the outcome; Reps. Paul Gosar, Matt Gaetz, and Madison Cawthorn have offered Rittenhouse internships.
As objectionable as the celebration of two deaths is—because we should be clear that the right is not applauding justice here, they are applauding that someone who shot Black Lives Matter protesters walked—it’s at least refreshing to see that those on the right understand the stakes here. Conservatives know what this verdict means, implicit permission from the state, as if it were needed to be spelled out, for killing people fighting for civil rights.
But liberals don’t seem to get it.
“I stand by what the jury has concluded,” said President Joe Biden. “The jury system works.”
Assuming “the jury system works” requires it having the tools to work effectively. But in this case, the prosecution was barred from introducing evidence of Rittenhouse’s prior intent, there was witness intimidation, and Judge Bruce Schroeder acted at every moment to influence the case toward the defendant.
Rep. Eric Swalwell, a California Democrat, tweeted that anyone upset about the verdict just needs to… vote harder. Imagine—then maybe Democrats could control the White House and both chambers of Congress!
Others had similar takes. Conspiracy theorist Julia Ioffe mused that Wisconsin allows judicial recall, which doesn’t help here. Charlotte Clymer reminded everyone that “Every election matters” in an attempt to change the subject to voting in more Democrats.
Voting for better representation is fine and good. Wanting someone to take an opportunity to change their life for the better is admirable. But in the context of this moment, after a judgement designed to sanction political violence, they’re not the right response.
The systemic issues that led to Rittenhouse killing Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and wounding Gaige Grosskreutz are not the kind of things that can be solved in an election just under a year away. Rittenhouse isn’t going to become the paragon of soft liberal values the MSNBC crowd might want him to—he’s going to ride his notoriety to a payday.
The right incentivizes their heroes to play their roles in an ongoing culture war that’s increasing in intensity. They understand what’s at stake. Liberals don’t, and their continual refusal and unwillingness to face facts is going to have dire consequences for the rest of us.
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