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Conservatives Champion Kyle Rittenhouse, Proving Again That Free Speech in America is for a Few

The news that 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse attacked Black Lives Matter protestors should be an open and shut case. However, despite eyewitness accounts and video evidence, there is concern that Rittenhouse is going to walk. Now, conservatives around the country are championing him and donating money to his defense team. 

Rittenhouse, who is from Antioch, Illinois, is accused of crossing state lines in possession of two AR-15 style rifles and opening fire on a group of protestors. He then headed back to his family’s home for the night. His visit to the rally ended with two people dead, one person seriously injured, and a whole bunch of questions as to what happens next.

His lawyers seem to be leaning towards self-defense, even though his victims were completely unarmed. 

Donald Trump Jr. recently excused the murders by saying “who knows” and  “we all make mistakes when we are 17.” This is an interesting adage, considering that Trayvon Martin was the same age when George Zimmerman killed him for existing in the same neighborhood. Martin was totally vilified by the press and he hadn’t even killed anyone. Tamir Rice got the same media treatment, and he was only 12 and as far as I know, did not gun down any unarmed people to my knowledge.

Commentators who are focusing on Rittenhouse’s age here are being intellectually dishonest; age is clearly not the determining factor for the way these young boys are talked about. Whiteness is. Anti-Blackness is. These things together seem to turn victims into murderers and murderers into good people just defending themselves. 

In this world of white supremacy, Blackness cannot be violated because Blackness itself is a violation, and threat to domination. You can shoot Blackness while it’s sleeping, praying, marching, or walking home, and justify it with white fear. Rittenhouse’s actions during the protests in Kenosha embody this fear and therefore he is raised as a white supremacy hero. Just look at his crowd-funding accounts. Collectively they have raised about a million dollars even though he is the perpetrator.

There are many things that are terrifying about dismissive attitudes to Rittenhouse’s crimes. Our Christian nation often touts the teachings and principles of Jesus as central to our way of life. Words like peace, love, and unity are thrown around like party favors anytime a marginalized group of people challenges a societal system. But people who share an ideology with Kyle Rittenhouse are turning to extreme violence in order to defend not themselves, but a way of life they believe they are owed, especially at the expense of the marginalized. The messages of peace, love, and unity are suddenly considered anti-American as conservative rhetoric does a 180. 

A few weeks ago, conservatives were decrying Black Lives Matter protests that were provoked to violence. Two people are now dead, and conservatives are shrugging their shoulders.

Where is the line, if it’s not at murder? When do Americans, even the conservative ones, start actually fighting for what’s best of America? Racism has done a number on the way we feel about our fellow countrymen. Even poor white people will enthusiastically vote against their own self-interests if it means Black and Brown people might be treated more fairly. 

Conservatives have voted down social services, taxing the mega-rich, and many programs aimed at leveling the playing field. Now major conservative figures are saying the murder is ok, too. This dismissal endangers everyone, not just the liberals that conservatives oppose. Where does it stop?

It’s understood and respected that humans need to belong to a group, but the right appears to be turning into a herd that changes directions at whim. And unlike what conservatives like to preach, Jesus Christ does not appear to be their shepherd.

So, who is the leader, and where are they going? It definitely isn’t to a free-speech-loving united America. 

A car drove into unarmed protestors in Times Square recently. There is speculation that it was connected to the NYPD. In some cities, police have been seen being chummy with heavily armed white militia and telling them they are needed. And now a child has killed two innocent people and seriously harmed a third.

From where this writer sits, if this herd doesn’t look up and start paying attention they could get led right off of a cliff.

What do you think?

Written by Onicia Muller

Jerri B

Atlanta-based Multimedia Artist Jerri B’s New Mural Visualizes Black Beauty and Power


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