OPINION: Rittenhouse continues a long tradition of self-deputized white men who believe their job is to police and terrorize Black people
Kyle Rittenhouse is a white domestic terrorist who should spend a lifetime in prison. However, white nationalists, Donald Trump and the Republican Party view him as a hero who should be celebrated, loved and honored, lavished with corporate sponsorships and sent to Congress.
And like so many white terrorists before him, Rittenhouse is being held to a different standard. As innocent Black lives are criminalized, Kyle Rittenhouse is propped up by a society of enablers who want to see more young, toxic white men murdering the defenders of racial justice.
Rittenhouse, 17, of Antioch, Illinois was released on a $2 million bond thanks to the generous financial support of those who admire his deeds — using federal stimulus money to purchase an AR-15 assault rifle, and commit mass murder at a Black Lives Matter protest last August.
He shot three and killed two following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Blake, who was shot by cops in the back eight times in front of his children, remains paralyzed.
That White America will raise $2 million for a terrorist to post bail — in the middle of a plague — points to a long history of complicity. Rittenhouse continues a long tradition — since the slave patrols on the plantation — of self-deputized white men who believe their job is to police and terrorize Black people, and kill them with impunity.
A Blue Lives Matter supporter, Rittenhouse was one of those armed white extremists hanging around Black Lives Matter protests and looking to cause trouble — all with the support of the police with whom they share a common hatred of blackness and membership lists.
Echoing the preferential police treatment of Dylann Roof — the white supremacist who was reportedly treated to Burger King after he murdered nine Black parishioners inside Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church in 2015. Similarly, Rittenhouse was treated to bottled water and a thank you from the police before he used his weapon to murder protesters. And after the bloodbath, which he claims was an act of “self-defense,” he walked by the cops and escaped across state lines.
Because white privilege, that’s why.
A normal country would react to its own Kyle Rittenhouses with condemnation. But in the land of the free — where a domestic terrorist is a freedom fighter when he fights for white supremacy and a country that continues to oppress and murder Black people — such young thugs are afforded a hero’s welcome.
Meanwhile, as the white-collar Klan weaponizes their words and laws to terrorize Black lives while keeping their hands clean, they empower foot soldiers such as Kyle Rittenhouse, Dylann Roof and the Michigan anti-mask militias to do the dirty work for the advancement of white power.
Early on, the Republican Party chose to embrace this white boy and everything he represents, painting him as someone who came to Kenosha armed to defend small business owners, and a minuteman patriot exercising his right to bear arms in a war zone.
Viewing Rittenhouse as a soldier in the right-wing extremist culture wars, L. Lin Wood, a member of Rittenhouse’s defense team according to the Associated Press, also represented the stepmother of the cop who killed Rayshard Brooks outside an Atlanta Wendy’s, and Patricia and Mark McCloskey, this according to Wood himself in a series of tweets.
The McCloskeys are the white St. Louis couple who pointed weapons at Black Lives Matter protesters outside their mansion and later spoke at the Republican National Convention, along with a Hitler youth from North Carolina who became the youngest member elected to Congress.
A white nationalist leader who condemns and criminalizes racial justice protesters and praises violent white men such as the Proud Boys, Boogaloo Boys and neo-Nazis, Trump defended the terrorist acts of Kyle Rittenhouse, saying: “You saw the same tape as I saw, and he was trying to get away from them.” Republican U.S. Rep. Anthony Sabatini tweeted: “KYLE RITTENHOUSE FOR CONGRESS.”
Rittenhouse has enjoyed support from washed-up, D-list sitcom stars like Ricky Schroder and Scott Baio, an apparent coffee brand sponsorship, and financial support from Mike Lindell, the MyPillow guy who helped raise the $2 million to bail the young American hero out of jail.
This, as Black mamas of children murdered by police can’t raise enough money for their baby’s funeral, and Sandra Bland and Kalief Browder wind up in jail for doing nothing wrong and end up in the grave because they couldn’t pay their bail. Breonna Taylor cannot get justice, and the police murdered her in her home for sleeping while Black. Now one of her killers is suing her boyfriend for “severe trauma, mental anguish, and emotional distress” for shooting him in the thigh during the home invasion.
The hypocrisy is palpable. Kyle Rittenhouse enjoys support because America is filled with monuments to white men just like him — colonizers, genocidal maniacs, slave masters, Confederate generals, Klansmen and other terrorists — which tells us not only that white domestic terrorists have been normalized and immortalized, but that they always were.
Meanwhile, the purveyors of violence always told Black folks to be peaceful, as the terrorists and police who conspired in our deaths were never charged, or were rewarded with not-guilty verdicts from an all-white jury. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was not their hero. He was nonviolent and they vilified him, called him as a communist and murdered him.
FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover said “the Black Panther Party, without question, represents the greatest threat to internal security of the country,” not because of their armed self-defense, but because of their free children’s breakfast program.
Colin Kaepernick took a knee for justice against police brutality, and the white public called him un-American and ungrateful. And Black Lives Matter is branded as terrorists for believing we are all human beings, and for fighting in the streets and trying to make America a habitable place for Black life.
Spend enough time in America, and you realize they never took issue with our tactics, but they always opposed our Blackness.
Malcolm X said it best, so I’ll end it right here: “If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”
Follow David A. Love on Twitter at @davidalove.
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