Have you noticed in the past 10 years the amount of vigilantes hitting the streets has increased.
The individuals and groups that have been taking to the streets in the name of ‘freedom’….and the incidents of actual violence is increasing exponentially…..the most recent example is the trial of Rittenhouse….
The Wisconsin ruling clearing Kyle Rittenhouse on all charges for the killing of two Black Lives Matter activists looks to be a milestone moment for the rise of rightwing extremism in America. It’s not so much the details of this case and the spin that can be employed in interpreting the events that concerns me most. It’s the implications of the case, considering the larger political context and the threat of rising extremism.
A dangerous precedent has been set in this ruling, empowering vigilantes who believe they are deputized to enforce “the law” against perceived political enemies. Rittenhouse traveled to a city that he didn’t live in, to a state in which he is not a resident, while illegally possessing an assault rifle he had no right to wield, in the name of “protecting” property he didn’t own, in the process killing two men in violent altercations that would have been avoided entirely if Kenosha police had done their job, corralling vigilantes who looked to commit violence, and separating them from those engaged in protests or destruction of property. Even for those who are fixated on the property damage question, it’s difficult to defend Rittenhouse’s actions when he engaged in vigilante violence, with no training in dealing with conflict situations, and when responsibility for enforcing the law clearly falls on the police.
The Rittenhouse case shouldn’t be interpreted in a vacuum, as it occurred within a larger political environment in which other rightwing vigilantes seek to justify violence, and even murder, under the guise of “self-defense.” Consider, for example, the Ahmaud Arbery case in Georgia, where three white vigilantes stalked, cornered, and shot a black man who was jogging through a neighborhood – and away from them – under the false premise that he may have been responsible for a local burglary. There is no plausible scenario in which these three men can reasonably claim self-defense, when the altercation was entirely of their own initiation, when the man murdered was unarmed, and when he had nothing to do with the crime in question. And of course, there is the issue of implicit or explicit racial bias related to the defendants, which is also difficult to ignore in a country where research shows that assumptions of guilt related to violent crime are consistently racialized, with black men assumed to be the prime perpetrators in violent and other criminal acts. If the Arbery defendants successfully justify their actions as “self-defense,” then the courts will have effectively criminalized being black in America. An acquittal sends a message that white vigilantes can commit violence and murder at will against people of color who have the nerve to venture out into public, and with black men’s mere existence constituting a “threat” from which white people need “protection.”
All this does nothing to stop the social slide that has been developing over the last 25 years or so…..
None of this bode well for a orderly society and a stable nation.
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