Justice Politics Race Ron Jacobs

A Land Where Justice is a Game

Nothing could be more typically American than Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder spree and its aftermath.
A Kyle Rittenhouse supporter in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
A Kyle Rittenhouse supporter holds a sign in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Sept. 1, 2020. (Lightburst – CC BY-SA 4.0)

By Ron Jacobs / CounterPunch

Another right-wing vigilante walks free in the USA. The fact that I was even mildly hopeful Kyle Rittenhouse would get some prison time only proves my eternal optimism. Once again, that optimism was misplaced. After all, it is the United States of America that I’m talking about; a nation whose history is replete with stories of white men walking free after murdering individuals who made them afraid. It is the United States of America; a nation whose history is replete with stories of Black men lynched, executed, or imprisoned for crimes the state knew they didn’t commit. It is the United States of America; a land where the defense of property takes precedence over human life in the courts and in the streets. Especially when that property is owned by a white man.

Nothing could be more typically American than Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder spree and its aftermath. From the shooting itself to his courtroom defense that he “was only defending himself,” the entire scenario reeks of arrogance and sociopathy. Indeed, it’s a perfect metaphor for the US empire and its “foreign policy,” where the concept of self-defense often involves traveling away from one’s home with a loaded weapon, walking down unfamiliar streets away from home, and then murdering people who tell you to go away? This series of events is the template for what US politicians (and many citizens) call US foreign policy. The mindset it inculcates is one that creates the Kyle Rittenhouses among its residents.

Make no mistake, the Rittenhouse trial was a political trial. The far-right knew it could manipulate the evidence in its favor, especially given the nature of stand your ground laws. The jury selection was also manipulated and the judge was not sympathetic to the murdered men. As for the prosecution, I was reminded of those grand juries that fail to indict murderous police officers because the state presents its case in such a way that makes indictment unlikely if not impossible. The assumptions of a jury’s members are played upon with the intention of bringing forth their fears and prejudices. A sophisticated legal team can convince a jury that what they see is not fact and that the legal team’s fiction is. Often, this manipulation involves removing the context of the acts being considered, shortening the timeline, and ultimately transferring the blame to the victims. This is a standard approach for the defense when police officers are charged with murder. It was used quite deftly by the Rittenhouse defense team.

Let’s pretend Rittenhouse was a leftist/BLM protester and had murdered two pro-police protesters in the same scenario like the one he was in when he killed those men. I doubt he would be a free man today. Instead, he would have been portrayed as the active shooter that he was, walking the streets of Kenosha fully armed and under the illusion he had the right to shoot people if they challenged him. In this imaginary circumstance, the pro-police protesters attempting to disarm a scared left-wing Rittenhouse would have been the heroes, and that Rittenhouse would have been the killer the real Rittenhouse is. This scenario assumes that a murdering left-wing Rittenhouse would not have been shot down in the streets by the police—a big assumption. I have protested too many Klan and Nazi rallies that were protected by the forces of law and order to think otherwise.

There are those on the left who concur with the verdict. They buy the lie that Rittenhouse was acting in self-defense. If these folks are thinking that they could use a similar defense should they find themselves in court for killing people at a protest, they are fools. As I said, this was a political trial. The defense was supported by money from fascists, white supremacist,s and other right-wing individuals and organizations. The trial of a leftist for similar killings would also be political. The verdict would most certainly be the opposite of Rittenhouse’s. US history reminds us that laws are applied differently to different people based on criteria involving skin tone, politics, and wealth. Too many people with what the state considers to be the wrong criterion sit in prison unjustly. Too many criminals with the approved criterion walk free and unchallenged.

Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. His latest offering is a pamphlet titled Capitalism: Is the Problem.  He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

25 comments

  1. kyle rittenhouse definitely has a punchable face and his crying seemed more fake than a politician’s promises, but…wwwwwwwwwwwwwow. tell me you didn’t watch the trial or the full videos of the ‘incident’ without telling me you didn’t watch the trial or the full videos of the ‘incident.’

    1. What? Do you think Kyle should rot in jail because a cop shot a black man. Maybe you think Kyle should be executed by the dream state you live in? You are so self-deceived! That you would accept the MSM reporting on this incident is sad. Watch the videos. Research who Rittenhouse is. Find out where he lives, where his friends and relatives live and use your brain to actually think.

      1. no, I think the verdict rendered in rittenhouse’s trial was a just verdict based upon the facts of the case. I also think you don’t understand my comment (or maybe you were just looking for an excuse to rage at someone).

    2. Seriously. It’s sad that some one who formed their opinion, clearly without even watching the case is not only taken seriously but published here at scheerpost. To me that means Robert Scheer didn’t watch the trial and is just copying and pasting MSNBC propaganda for clicks. Im on the left and I “buy the lie” that he acted in self defense because it was OVERWHELMINGLY PROVEN TO BE FACT.

  2. Glen Greenwald watched the trial
    Evidence. Did you?
    Follow the facts not the neoliberal
    Bullshit.

  3. ‘Especially when that property is owned by a white man.’ This would, maybe, be relevant to your opinion about this case if the business Rittenhouse was protecting was owned by white men. In fact it was not…

  4. And you might add: This is the United States of America, where continued support for Israeli apartheid has destroyed and is continuing to destroy millions of Palestinian lives because they’re not Jewish and they’re not white!!!!

  5. It is a shame that Rittenhouse won’t rot in prison. He deserves to pay for his crimes, not become a hero to the knuckleheaded fascist hordes.

    1. It is a shame that he is lionized by the right but there is no possible way you can watch all the evidence and listen to all the witnesses – including the man he shot – and feel that Kyle Rittenhouse should “rot in prison”. Go watch the trial and form your own opinion instead of regurgitating establishment garbage.

  6. In this case, and ever since George Floyd, it’s pick your side in what may aptly be called a color revolution. If you’re not with the whitewashed, you’re with the wokewashed. Create a strategy of tensions, as around race, to distract target groups from general destabilization of society, as at times of coup, with divide-and-conquer framing of conflict, as with right-left ideology.

    Trump was a racist. But Biden’s Jim Crow legacy is absent by comparison in present programming. Trump was a fascist. But WEF errand boy Biden’s tyranny atop the biosecurity state is part of the the progressive promise to build back better.

    Round and round we go with the games of political theater staged for us in whatever branch of government is playing lead roles to control the narratives. It doesn’t have to be consistent or coherent, only confusing enough to render people passive to the shows, depoliticizing citizens into captive consumers of whatever storyline the propaganda machinery produces. Or as CIA Director William Casey said: “We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.”

    It’s a game alright, one fit for children still operating at elementary levels of either-or logic and image-based cognition, the arrested development pushed upon the population by the mass media. In the manufactured democracy of Monopoly Capital, it’s all about real estate in the mind, population control according to black-white choices and polarizations sensationalized in the courts of public opinion as staged by spectacle and screen.

    None of which has to do with justice, but everything to do with fortifying the power of the capitalist state for imposing injustice upon the human race.

    1. Wow well said. I think Scheerpost should publish you instead of this garbage woke-supremest propaganda article. Do you have a substack or something I can check out?

  7. Ron Jacobs, you are absolutely wrong about Rittenhouse; you haven’t done your homework which would have been very easy had you actually studied the evidence. To demonstrate this point, please view, via The Jimmy Dore Show, the YouTube video: “TYT sides w/Rittenhouse! Agrees It Was Self-Defense!” Nov 17, 2021. That is, Ron Jacobs, if you dare; which I sincerely doubt!

      1. That is exactly Dore’s point. TYT smeared him until the facts proved they were wrong.

      2. Oh course they suck but that’s Jimmy’s point – that EVEN TYT says Rittenhouse verdict was correct!

  8. people who tell you to go away? Your hyper partisan delusion is why a moderate would run from this lexicon. You watched the videos? Oh, no, then STFU. It was 100% Self defense. Should he have been there, no, should a 17yr old be able to open carry am AR-15 no, was his life threatened, yes, end of conversation, he had the legal right to shoot those people.

    Secondly if this was a black person at a Unite the Right rally, he would of walked 100%.

    Honestly your train of thought reflects a deep immersion in blueberry kool-aid.

  9. Don’t let emotions or MSM propaganda get to you. Learn the facts about the case. He may politically be on the right side of the spectrum. Who knows. That has no relevance to this case. He shot and killed two people in self-defense. This all came out in the trial. What matters here is the truth. If he wasn’t breaking the law, he should not be convicted. This is true for all people of all races, though we can be quite sure that if Rittenhouse were black, the police would have not reacted the same way he did being he was white.

    1. Well there were no police around when Rittenhouse shot the three men. He did walk up to them and was told to go home which he did then later turned himself in. Now if a black man had approached the police with an AR asking to turn himself in would they of told him to go home? Probably not.

  10. I began reading Sheerpost several months ago and found it to be a refreshing change from mainstream media. I found intelligent, well thought out articles from smart and critical thinkers. I thought I could count on Sheerpost to tell me the truth and present actual journalism. Perhaps I expected too much.

    This past week, you’ve published two articles about Rittenhouse, and in both cases the writers have clearly not done their journalistic homework and either ignore, deny, or make up facts in support of their own pre-existing biases. I posted a comment about this after the first article. Instead of issuing an apology, you have compounded the problem by publishing another.

    I was initially biased against Rittenhouse. Any Trumper who takes a rifle to a protest is a bully looking to cause trouble. I assumed he was guilty of murder. But after watching Jimmy Dore interview Matt Orfalea and seeing the videos the mainstream media have kept hidden, I have to agree that Rittenhouse killed in self defense. I have had to revise my opinion because the facts presented do not support my original bias.

    Why has Sheerpost published these two poorly researched, biased opinion pieces of propaganda? Do facts not matter? Rosenburg was described as a “martyr.” The video shows him pushing a dumpster that was on fire towards a gas station. It shows him getting confrontational when others put out the fire and yelling in several people’s faces, “KILL ME, NIGGA!!!!” Does that sound like a martyr protesting in support of Black Lives Matter? Or does that sound like some thug there for the purpose of destruction who doesn’t give a damn about the cause and is actually hurting it? You are as guilty as mainstream media by publishing this crap. What are your standards for publishing something? Were these two authors published simply because they didn’t like the verdict and neither did you? You are hurting your own credibility. Now I have to wonder what else that you post is biased propaganda devoid of fact. The recent article on digital currency didn’t help.

  11. There is no meaning to the wielding of a gun (firearm) except in terms of deadly force: to carry the weapon expresses the intent to kill. — This should be obvious to everyone in and out of context of this crime.

    All the evidence shows a kid who mistakenly assumed he was bequeathed with singular power to rectify what he thinks are problems in society showing up at a rumpus with a gun, and his intentions unfolded as expected. The evidence also shows that others understood Rittenhouse’s intentions and responded in kind.

    Rittenhouse came prepared to kill, and he did.

    As to what what Rittenhouse thought he was protecting? Considering the loss, as compared to the value of the stuff under Rittenhouse’s care, it’s apples and oranges; a meaningless question, which point is obvious from the common justification that “property” or “business”, which cannot not be understood as anything other than vague extents of the streets and corners, was the stuff of his purvey, and material which he invited himself to supervise. In context, there’s no way that the act of killing could possibly be interpreted as a protective act for anything except turf. He came for deadly play in a gang game,

    Well look at that, lessons learned the most tragic way, like a child in the drivers-seat of a Corvette heading the accelerating the wrong way down an expressway exit ramp.

    What you really want to know is who gave him the keys to the car. Where the crime went from tragic to obscene was that the kid was joined and enabled by the area’s official police.

    What came from it was a vivid confirmation of a broad societal feature of the USA: we are predisposed as a people to a brutally violent manner of protection of stuff through domination. We are steeped in our history, with such events dec today dissolved in 500 years of conquest and the festering open wounds of the Civil War.

    The paradox is that today the world in catching on fire due to the enormity of our obsessions with stuff and our penchant for domination. Sow and reap, reap and sow.

    Rittenhouse assumed he could protect something from the bad without ever wondering about his own nature. We can only imagine the grief must be horrible.

    Luckily for Rittenhouse and all us, his grief is being rendered by a pack of millionaire political ghouls. No doubt something extraordinary will come of this.

    1. I agree with some of your points but having watched the trial, I think it’s important to add some context when considering “what Rittenhouse thought he was protecting”. It’s important to understand that Kenosha was his home town. It was where he worked, where almost all his family resided, and where all his friends were. He watched his home town be destroyed and decided to protect it, it’s not apples and oranges. Consider how you would feel if your community was being burned to the ground. You make it seem like he was just there to kill under the guise of protecting random businesses. Also after watching all the videos and listening to all the testimony and as hard as it may be for you to accept-Rittenhouse made a great effort to avoid violent and deadly confrontation. He literally ran away and was chased by a man who was beating him and yelling that he was going to kill him.

      I do agree that this nation was born in blood and has had an extraordinarily violent history and that there is nothing that is helping to change that path for us.

  12. Killers and “The Logic of Slave Patrols”
    What does it take – what would be substantial evidence, to prove to Glenn Greenwald, that someone is an unquestioned rabid bigot?
    What would be the precise definition of a jury of one’s peers? Who, in fact, in an oligarchic, neoliberal run plutocracy, are one’s peers – omitting theories of race, when it comes to those on trial, who are not of the aforementioned class of elites?
    What would count as more “substantial evidence” to Greenwald than that of a white youth – immaturity personified, armed to the teeth, showing up at a ‘Black Lives Matter’ demonstration; who randomly shoots people, because he felt threatened, and that his more precious life was in immediate danger — tells us, than that this person’s intent – bearing arms, was an overt expression of malice; to see to it that the protest would not be peaceful.
    Showing up armed, to any protest, in a supposed democracy is proof enough that the person does not sincerely believe that everyone has an equal right to demonstrate their beliefs publicly in the eyes of the law.
    Any system of governance that is weighted by one’s ability to pay for access, is, in truth, not a democracy. Plutocracy would be a more accurate term!
    By what right of law was Rittenhouse permitted to designate himself as an official monitor of public behavior, wherein the legal system, by exonerating him, has backed him to the hilt, as it had done previously in the vast majority of trials, where whites (uniformed officers of the law, as well as those self-elected as protectors of white privilege) had killed black human beings, until of course the conviction of the white police officer in the George Floyd murder case.
    As the saying goes: there is a first time for everything, even in racist America.
    The Ahmaud Arbery verdict shows, once again, that even despicable white racism, is not actually set in stone, to the dismay of those who believed, and still, mistakenly do, that it is.
    And so, the future unfolds!

  13. more evidence that amerikan “progressives ” are political reactionaries and liars—unsurprising that these ruling class fabrications are published at a CIA funded site

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