Culture Wars/Current Controversies

The alarming message behind the GOP’s embrace of Kyle Rittenhouse

By David Faris The Week

America’s political violence problem took a dramatic turn for the worse on Friday when Kyle Rittenhouse — who shot three people during riots following police reform protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Aug. 25, 2020, killing two — was acquitted of all charges in what had become the latest in a series of nationally-watched trials related to the country’s racial justice movement.

Yet the verdict, whatever you might think of it, was far from the most worrisome aspect of this affair. Instead, it is the unhinged Republican embrace of Rittenhouse as a hero, and the right’s glorification of vigilante gun violence, that raises serious alarm about the direction of our politics.

It is one thing to argue the jury reached a defensible verdict given the facts of the case, Wisconsin law, and the particulars of the trial. But prominent Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, have all but endorsed Rittenhouse’s actions. As J.D. Vance, the one-time liberal darling and now fully Trumpified GOP Senate hopeful in Ohio, put it on Twitter prior to the verdict: “Our leaders abandoned this kid’s community to lawless thug rioters and he did something about it.”


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