Guest Post: The Thin Black Duke – The Rittenhouse Acquittal Normalizes Vigilantes

The Thin Black Duke published another smart, thoughtful piece on Medium this week.  Once again, I asked him if I could share it here, and he graciously agreed. ~WaterGirl

The Rittenhouse Acquittal Normalizes Vigilantes: An armed society is a society held hostage by sociopaths

by The Thin Black Duke, aka Darryl R. Scott

The moment Kyle Rittenhouse blubbered in court I knew right then there that he’d get away with murder because in White America only a white man’s tears matter.

CHICAGO (AP) — For many Black Americans, Kyle Rittenhouse’s acquittal on all charges by a Wisconsin jury on Friday confirmed their belief in two justice systems: one for white people and another for Black people.

Rittenhouse, the two men he killed and the man he wounded were all white, but the case has been linked from the start to issues of race and the criminal justice system.

Activists have previously pointed to differences in how police handled Rittenhouse’s case and that of Jacob Blake, the Black man who was shot by a white Kenosha police officer in August 2020, sparking protests in the city that became destructive and violent.

Of course it gets worse. Besides getting to goose-step out of the courthouse a free man, Rittenhouse was offered a job as an intern by U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL), and Tucker Carlston interviewed him as a guest on his TV show (“a sweet kid”). Trump says Rittenhouse visited him at Mar-a-Lago. It’s not just a slap on the wrist, it’s a collective pat on the back by his fellow white supremacists. Kyle, you’re doing a heck of a job!

Forget it, Jake. It’s America.

I guess the two men who died must have shot themselves, huh? By the way, their names were Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26. They’re not faceless statistics to their heartbroken families who have to live with this ugly miscarriage of justice:

Guest Post: The Thin Black Duke – The Rittenhouse Acquittal Normalizes Vigilantes
Parents of Rittenhouse victim react to not guilty verdict, photograph courtesy of nbc.com

“Today’s verdict means there is no accountability for the person who murdered our son. It sends the unacceptable message that armed civilians can show up in any town, incite violence, and then use the danger they have created to justify shooting people in the street.”

In Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, there’s a scene where Bruce Wayne and his butler, Alfred Pennyworth, are investigating the violent crime spree of the Joker and Bruce is trying to make sense of the Joker’s lunacy. This is what Alfred says to Bruce:

Alfred Pennyworth: Well, because he thought it was good sport. Because some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.

Angry white men in this country have been burning things down for quite a while now, while the apolitical “non-racist” white people who work in the fire department pretend nothing is happening and decide to look the other way.

Pay no attention to the arsonists behind the curtain.

A democratic society only works when its citizens fully understands what their responsibilities and obligations are and make the commitment into looking out for each other and their communities. That’s what “We, the People” is supposed to mean.
But the Rittenhouses in this country, fueled by their fear and hatred of the Other, are taking away the checks and balances, fail-safes, and all the other legal guardrails that keep a civilized nation from degenerating into barbarism.

Make no mistake, what these angry white men are doing is barbaric. Some men just want to watch the world burn. And their relentless hammering away at the crumbling bedrock of America’s democratic institutions is accelerating.

Dollar Store Rambos carrying AR-15s are strolling down the supermarket aisles. Teachers are either being harassed or terminated for educating their students about “CRT”, the latest boogeyman that’s scaring the hell out of right-wing zealots. Planed Parenthood clinics are vandalized. In spite of three viable vaccines available to everyone, COVID-19 is still killing people every day because Anti-Vaxxers refuse to get vaccinated. The insurrection on 1/6. Some men just want to watch the world burn.

Freedom of Speech isn’t guaranteed by the Constitution anymore. It’s dictated by how many guns you have. Coincidentally, it’s a sacred privilege that only white men get to enjoy (Second Amendment, fuck yeah!) and as Kyle Rittenhouse proved, he and all the other vigilantes in White America have been given the permission to shoot at any problem that they can’t figure out after fifteen minutes of googling.

This isn’t substainable, of course. And bad things always happen when a democracy is taken by a bloodthirsty mob to the back of the woodshed and shot.I found an online documentary called After Prison in which ex-convicts talk about their experiences, and there was one interview in particular that got stuck in my head and won’t go away:

“Every day is something different, but the one thing that remains constant in prison is violence. Violence is always there. It’s always there, and that’s what controls everything.

“When you look at Society, it’s the same way but people just don’t look at it like that. But you wouldn’t listen to a cop if he didn’t have a gun. You wouldn’t listen to the Army if they didn’t have tanks. You listen to them because they’re using violence and they’re using force and sometimes they don’t have to use it, but the threat is there. In prison you know violence is there so people respect that if they don’t respect you.

“You might not respect the guard but you do what he tells you to do because besides having the authority, he has that violence behind him. And when you’re in prison you have to deal with this every day.”

So when law and order goes away, all that’s left behind are killers like Kyle Rittenhouse, and they’re not afraid to use violence to get what they want. The day Rittenhouse didn’t go to prison was the day that everybody else in America who isn’t a crazy, gun-slinging white man got locked up in a cell instead. We’re in prison and the violence is everywhere.

And the bars are getting closer every day.

 

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