So as you’ve undoubtedly heard, Kyle Rittenhouse got off on gunning down two men at a BLM protest. Which partly reflects the insanity of gun fetishiazation. As Farhad Manjoo says in WaPo, Rittenhoue’s gun made things worse, not safer: “Rittenhouse says he carried a rifle in order to guarantee his safety during a violent protest. He was forced to shoot at four people when his life and the lives of other people were threatened, he says. What was he protecting everyone from? The gun strapped to his own body, the one he’d brought to keep everyone safe.”
Or as the family of one of the victims put it, “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.” Dahlia Lithwick ponders whether having everyone armed encourages everyone to shoot in “self defense.”
But it also reflects that he’s doing what a depressing number of Republicans want to do or want other people to do for them: kill all the liberals. Marjorie Taylor Greene proposes giving him the Congressional gold medal. Matt Gaetz says he’s introducing a national Stand Your Ground bill so that even if you can retreat without hurting anyone, it’s okay to kill them. Rep. Madison Cawthorne, as usual, is enthusiastically pro-violence. In online discussion, some Republican voters want more Rittenhouses killing more people. Misogynist Matt Walsh argues there’s no law against shooting people. Despite being a Christian pundit, he doesn’t find any moral objections to Rittenhouse either.
Which is disturbing given the growing rise in death threats as acceptable public discourse. Anti-American Rep. Paul Gosar made an anime video showing him murdering Alexandria Ocasia-Cortez. Gosar says it’s symbolic about policy differences and therefore not a threat. Republicans aren’t criticizing him. Never mind that they freaked out about an adaptation of Julius Caesar that made Caesar a Trump figure and shrieked outrage at comedienne Kathy Griffin for showing Trump’s head on a pike. When they make death threats it’s totally forgivable! Criticizing them is like the blood libel against Jews. In the same vein, Molly Jong-Fast joking about calling the FBI on your family over Thanksgiving is monstrously fascist; giving Jong-Fast death threats over it is apparently cool.
It’s not just Gosar. We have death threats against Rep. Ihlan Omar. There have been multiple bomb threats in Washington since 1/6. Violent threats against congress-members who don’t tow the Stalinist party line enough, including death threats. The Threats please Greene. Threats against school boards and other officials over everything from race issues to mask mandates. Against election officials — alarmingly with law-enforcement doing very little. And right-wing celebrities like The Former Guy Jr. are happy to wonder why we don’t see more anti-mandate riots. Not that he’ll ever risk his own neck in one, but he’s happy to pose for right-wing media by pretending to be a badass.
And this shit spreads downwards, making death threats look normal, something routinely flung against doctors and nurses for not seeing someone fast enough. And that’s horrifying because there’s no way for anyone to know whether the threat-maker is just venting or seriously psycho.
Even if another member of the Anti-American Party never takes the White House, they’ve still done irreparable damage with this shit. I’m not sure what the solution is, but making them face consequences is a good start. So is exposing their identities.