I missed all the excitement last year, when the Americans burned down their cities. I was on a media fast for four months and the first I heard about it was when my mother said: “The Americans are burning down their cities. It’s on the TV.” So I never really attached to this spectacle, as many did. Why care at all, from another country? We live in the American empire and what happens in America happens here; literally so in Britain, we also had BLM protests and statues toppled. So an afterbirth from the 2020 riots, the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, deserves attention; Rittenhouse is relevant.
The Rittenhouse trial is a chiaroscuro for the in-out group divide; if you are on the left he is a white supremacist terrorist, whereas if you are on the right Rittenhouse defended his territory. Further, one man Rittenhouse killed, Joseph Rosenbaum, was a convicted child molester. He was also a Jewish leftist; so the combination for nationalist rightists—a Jewish child molester and leftist rioter in support of black criminals—represents their Platonic ideal of evil; Rittenhouse literally slew the dragon.
Rittenhouse might have killed two men, but he is not a man: he is only seventeen, and he looks it—pudgy and inexperienced. Vigilantism, like charity, begins at home—on your street, to be precise. If Rittenhouse had gone to his neighbours and suggested that they band together to protect their homes then that would have been responsible. Except that as a seventeen-year-old he would have carried no weight with his neighbours, who would have told him to go home. Instead, Rittenhouse moved beyond his street—the territory for which he was arguably responsible—and went into town to help a businessman protect his property. What Rittenhouse did was irresponsible; it was not his business—his business was his home first, then his street.
The reason why Rittenhouse became tangled up where he never should have been is simple: he has no father—his parents are divorced. This is why he ended up in a carousal with the cringe-inducingly named semi-gang “the Proud Boys”—a group whose name is literally gay and immature. On the stand, Rittenhouse cried crocodile tears over the man he shot; and he did so because he is still a teenager who thinks he can manipulate his way out through narcissistic emotional appeals—even when he killed a man. Also, deep down, he knows he should not have been there and the situation was not unambiguous self-defence. Rittenhouse did fire in self-defence; so the charges he faces are unjust—at most he committed a crime akin to manslaughter and deserves a slap on the wrist. The prosecutor is a popinjay who politicises the prosecution—nevertheless, the overall point is that Rittenhouse should never have been there in the first place.
In 2011, I lived through a riot very similar to the one in Kenosha, and all the windows beneath my apartment were smashed in the process. I slept upstairs with a knife and a barricaded door: I did not voluntarily wander down to defend the Domino’s franchise beneath me; it was not my business—if I did wander down with a knife, it would have invited a Rittenhouse-style situation; people go looking for trouble and usually they find it—Rittenhouse did. He had no father to tell him to mind his own business, he followed the in-group; his substitute father.
The entire situation came about because a national political riot was orchestrated over a criminal, George Floyd; and this riot brought together a convicted child molester bent on destruction and a fatherless teenage boy who sought a path to maturity through vigilantism; not one person in this case should have been there—not the rioters, not Rosenbaum, not Rittenhouse; the riot should not have been incited, Rosenbaum should have been hanged, and Rittenhouse should have been at home. What brought all these people together was this commonality: they live in a profoundly disordered and perverted society.