Democrats and leftists in the media have the opportunity to learn a smart lesson from the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse — that there sometimes really are consequences to lawless rioting and violence.
Up until now, all of them sat pretty knowing that our national hostage situation was working out nicely. Voters felt uneasy about the George Floyd incident. Democrats knew that could be useful in an election year, so they rioted. Party leaders instigated, permitted, and excused all of it. The message: When things aren’t going our way politically, this is what happens.
It replayed in the days ahead of the election. Big cities had only just quieted back down and plywood on storefronts had only just been removed before they had to go back up the week of Nov. 3, 2020.
Everyone understood the looming threat. But the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse last week for killing two rioters in the summer of that year changes things.
Two people are now dead and a third has lost a bicep after they showed up for a night of rioting in Kenosha, Wis., where they ultimately ended up attacking a person who happened to be armed with a loaded AR-15.
Rittenhouse’s legal team argued that it was self-defense, that he fired his gun at three men only after each had pursued him and threatened him with physical harm. The story matched with scores of video evidence and independent eyewitness testimony. One of the men had swung a skateboard at Rittenhouse’s head. Another had pointed his own firearm at Rittenhouse, who had fallen to the ground while being chased. A jury decided that Rittenhouse was not at fault, even as prosecutors insisted that none of this would have happened had the then-17-year-old not been at the scene of the riots.
Other leftists have adopted that same line of argument. Reacting to the verdict on Sunday, NAACP President Derrick Johnson said, “This trial for us is a warning shot that vigilante justice is allowed in this country, or in particular communities.”
Charles Blow of The New York Times wrote Friday, the day of the verdict, that it “represented yet another data point in the long history of some parts of the right valorizing white vigilantes who use violence against people of color and their white allies.”
Earlier this year, the New Yorker posited that an acquittal of Rittenhouse would “sanction vigilantism,” and that inevitably, “more altercations between protesters and counter-protesters will turn deadly.”
Wait, you mean we can’t burn down cities, assault police officers, and destroy private property with abandon anymore? No fair!
It took a 17-year-old showing up with a gun, plus the loss of two lives, for Democrats to realize that not everyone is okay with lawlessness. Rioting until they get their way isn’t something everyone can tolerate. And if the presence of police, who were effectively told last year that crime was legal, isn’t enough to make that clear, that’s too bad.
Rittenhouse made it clear. Rittenhouse was a warning. Hopefully the left remembers it.