I have been in a cabin in the woods since last Sunday, and I was blessed with no cell phone service. It was nice to get away from things, but the events that are occurring in America right now should be gripping everyone’s consciousness. I previously wrote an essay about Kyle Rittenhouse, and the pity I feel for him. As expected, Kyle’s actions have continued to be largely polarizing, and it seems that pity for Kyle is quite far from anyone’s mind.
Today, I want to talk about Kyle and his victims, because I think that we can expect to see some similarities in future violence that happens in the prologue to what is looking like a “Hot” civil war. In the previous essay I framed Kyle as a misguided young man (which I would argue is a somewhat redundant phrase; many young people are quite lost at age 17). I would also like to frame him as part of a demographic I will call community militants; or someone who is ready and willing to partake in violent defense of their community. I think we can expect more of these community militants to appear in the violence to come, and in fact many conservatives have been talking about and forming local militia for years.
The name I will use for the demographic of Kyle’s victims is violent praise-seekers: people who join in these protests and commit violence/vandalism in the anticipation of praise from the other activists (I am operating on limited information about Kyle’s victims, so there is a very real possibility that they do not fit in this demographic).
- Joseph Rosenbaum – a registered sex offender who was currently fielding a domestic abuse battery accusation
- Anthony M. Huber – a convicted felon in a strangulation case who was recently accused of domestic abuse
- Gaige Grosskreutz (wounded) – convicted for use of a firearm while intoxicated (and appeared to be holding a handgun ready to use when he was shot by Kyle).
The point of bringing up the criminal backgrounds of these men is not to portray them as evil (in fact, most media articles are painting them as the opposite), and just because someone has a criminal history does not mean that they will not act as peaceful protestors. However, there are people out there who may have a proclivity to smash windows, and when they smash windows at one of these demonstrations they are cheered on.
These are hardly the only two demographics being drawn to protests; as I have said, there are legitimate activists out there with legitimate concerns. The important takeaway, though, is that these two demographics are the usual suspects that show up to movements and conflicts in which their violence is being encouraged. Kyle is praised by many right wingers and his victims are praised by many left-wingers. The violent clashes in the street and the polarized coverage of them serve to provide each side with a growing list of grievances that justify further violence.
P.S. In my definition of community militant I want to point out a few things. “Violent defense” can be subjective and could be seen by others as violent offense. “Community” is also subjective in that the community one perceives oneself to be a part of is subjective (e.g. perhaps since Kyle worked as a lifeguard in Kenosha, he saw himself as part of that community) and the community itself can be subjective (e.g. was the rioting in the community of Kenosha? Wisconsin? America?).
P.P.S. It seems that there was another example of our violent praise-seeker demographic in Portland on August 30th. A pro-Trump protester had an interaction with BLM/Antifa protesters (unconfirmed, but there is information supporting this), and was shot to death by an Antifa member. The conversation that preempted the shooting seemed to be some shouting in which they were identifying the victim as a Trump supporter (the NY Times is reporting this dialogue differently and I am open to the possibility that I am wrong about the dialogue because it was hard to hear in the video). The man who shot the victim seems, by his actions, his speech prior to the shooting, and the BLM fist tattooed prominently on his neck, to fit the bill for violent praise-seeker. The praise he presumably sought was found not long after in the form of jubilation when news of the shooting reached another part of the city and a group of protesters cheered the fact that their “community held their own”. Open. Praise. Of. Violence.
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