Although I didn’t expect it, it felt inevitable. Kyle Rittenhouse has supported Black Lives Matter. Fox News’ last-night culture-war lightning bolt declared, “I support BLM movement.” Rittenhouse’s politics prior to his trial appeared back-the blue conservative. He added, “There is a lot prosecutorial misconduct, both in my case and in other cases.” It is amazing how much someone can be taken advantage of by a prosecutor.
Rittenhouse is the teenager who shot and killed three people in Kenosha last year during unrest. He was facing homicide charges. cause célèbreOn the political left, and last week was acquitted. My social media accounts have become flooded with questions from both conservatives and liberals about Rittenhouse’s sincerity after he spoke out against Black Lives Matter. They could also be correct: Rittenhouse might be trying to change his public image for reasons that are not difficult to imagine. Although it might seem like good PR, Rittenhouse could be doing something that isn’t great for his fans. This strategy can be used to alienate the most loyal supporters while keeping them from being as hostile as possible. However, it doesn’t make sense. NotA P.R. strategy.
However, he may be telling the truth. He just finished a year of churning through criminal justice systems, which can change one’s outlook. And it’s easy to forget just how fluid people’s goals and loyalties were in the spring and summer of 2020—especially early on, when the George Floyd movement was spilling across the boundaries on our conventional political maps.
One example is: The protests were supported by a large majority of the rank-and file Republicans.
Floyd was shot and killed by Derek Chauvin, Officer. A few weeks later, during the first week in June, Officer Derek Chauvin killed Floyd. Washington PostPoll showed that 53 percent of Republicans supported the demonstrations started by the murder. Pew also conducted a similar poll asking people how they felt about Black Lives Matter. Although BLM didn’t win a GOP majority in the poll, it was not a blowout. 40 percent of respondents supported BLM.
That was AfterSome marches turned into riots. It was a terrible thing. PostThat question was even raised in a poll, which asked if protesters saw them as peaceful or violent. Respondents were divided with 44% saying they said so. Peace42 percent of respondents said so Violent. The gap wasn’t solely partisan: 66% of Republicans chose “violent,” an overwhelming majority, but far from unanimity. It was not necessary to blame the protesters for the violent protests. According to the same poll, 66% of people surveyed said that violence was not the fault of protesters, police or the government, but rather to other “irresponsible” individuals. The result? PostThis poll didn’t go out on its own. Data for Progress also conducted an almost simultaneous poll and 44% of Republicans declared that the majority of protesters were peaceful.
Some people even armed themselves in order to resist the rioters, which was a support for some of the protests. That summer saw many temporary, informal, local groups—call them pop-up militias—mustering to defend homes and businesses against arsonists and looters (or, in some cases, against wild rumors that arsonists and looters were about to be bused in to town). Kenosha’s most prominent group was the Kenosha Guard. They issued an appeal for Patriots who would be willing to defend the city from evil thugs. Kevin Mathewson (the man behind the Kenosha Guard) was reported to have taken part in a “Kneel for Nine,” June 2, protesting Floyd’s murder. According to Mathewson, “people were upset over George Floyd and his fate.” The New York Times. “I was among those people.”
Mathewson might not be as sincere if Rittenhouse doesn’t believe you can take Rittenhouses assertion at face value. Perhaps you feel that we need to make a clear distinction between his feelings June 2nd and the time Kenosha was going off. OK: Then let’s look at some pop-up crews that were active that first week in June—and who presumably weren’t driven by white paranoia, since they weren’t white themselves. Gustavo Arellano sent a dispatch on June 4. Los Angeles TimesThe “scene repeated in barsrios across Southern California” where Mexican Americans, some with wrenches or pitbulls, stood out as demonstrators passed. Arellano stated that “Residents stood out of their houses and shops to support this message, but also offer their own advice: Don’t mess around with us.” There were several pop-up security groups that appeared in Minneapolis’ neighborhoods of minorities. Many of them aligned directly with the George Floyd Movement. NPR stated that they supported the demonstrations against police brutality and not the destruction. Security De La Lake was also mentioned. Because they were suspicious that this group was racist, they didn’t view it as a contradiction. agents provocateursThese were the ones responsible for the violence.
It was a good idea. The typicalPop-up crews were not like the small-town conspiracy theists who believed George Soros was going to send an antifa force to their town. It’s amazing how stale and formulaic the narratives are about those summer’s conflicts. NPR’s Mark Pitcavage, Anti-Defamation League said last year that groups like the Kenosha Guard were usually made up of “guys from the neighbourhood.” They “tend not to be right-wing but are “not usually extremists,” he said. But, that doesn’t mean they can’t have extremists.
However, the protesters did not appear to be “extremists”, if that is what we need to call them. They must have been extremists, because literally millions participated in thousands of protests against racist and abusive police brutality in 2020. Although the phrase “mostly peaceful” has been made a joke, most protests were peaceful. The ones who saw violence more often experienced sporadic skirmishes than blockade. Riots certainly did break out in several cities, and in one—Portland, Oregon—they became persistent. The George Floyd movement in its entirety was peaceful. Even though CNN used that phrase in an absurd way, it really wasn’t.
The end of summer saw a shift in Republican sentiment. A lot of the early ideologies were lost by Joe Biden, who was then president. It was during the Capitol riot that the positions became more rigid. Republicans used rhetorical tactics to make Democrats look hypocritical, saying they had toyed with the Floyd riots. This was easy if one conflated support for peaceful protests and support for fires that often followed. In the meantime, sedition-hunting liberals started to view all kinds of flashpoints either as precursors or echos of January 6. There was little scope for subtle distinctions.
So Rittenhouse was seen as a hero among those who believe Black Lives Matter to be a subversive threat, but he was also denounced by Americans on both sides of the aisle as a subversive danger. (Outgoing New York Mayor Bill de Blasio reactedTo the Rittenhouse verdict, they called for stronger laws to combat violent extremism. The one thing they seem to agree on is that there’s a vast subversive menace out there, and that the nation’s policing apparatus needs to be stronger to combat it—the exact opposite of what protesters were demanding last year. If Rittenhouse’s comments about Black Lives Matters and the prosecutors can break that spell then I appreciate his remarks, regardless of whether they are sincere.