By Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker Blog
There isn’t a news event this year which reveals the US left’s ability to continually aggravate the urban/rural divide more than the case of Kyle Rittenhouse. Their problem is that they cannot understand, or often merely just consider, that positive socio-political impulses may have been his actual motivation.
Rittenhouse is the 17-year old who shot three people during the Jacob Blake protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and let’s start off by stating a near-certainty: the kid is not going to be convicted.
Amid public chaos one guy chases you and grabs your gun, another beats you with a skateboard while you’re on the ground and grabs your gun, and another points a gun at you – there’s not a jury in America which won’t say shooting these three people wasn’t self-defense, I predict.
You wouldn’t even need a video of yourself saying you are in Kenosha with a gun and, crucially, a medical kit to “help people” – this will be an American jury which accepts violence as an everyday fact, and which esteems “stand your ground” self-defense. Even a video of what appears to be you cowardly punching a fellow teenage girl in the back won’t be enough to get 12 Americans to say that you weren’t justified to defend your life and property. I’m no lawyer, but this seems like an open and shut case… at least in America; and in states like Wisconsin, where openly carrying semi-automatic weapons is – incredibly – legal.
Rittenhouse’s likely exoneration thus has everything to do with international norm-defying United States culture and very little to do with ethnicity, but the US left – of course – obsessively sees ethnicity, race and identity everywhere. Could a “Black Kyle Rittenhouse” get off? You mean, would “Black Kyle Rittenhouse” also establish a personal relationship with local cops by talking to them beforehand and saying that he was on their side, like the White one did? To use an American legal term, there’s plenty of “reasonable doubt” that if he would do that a similar exoneration for “Black Kyle Rittenhouse” would not be so unreasonable.
That’s the legal aspect. The Rittenhouse story really rather pulled at my heartstrings, as it likely did for people worldwide, because there were just so many levels of tragedy to this historic event: How can Jacob Blake be shot seven times in the back by a cop in front of his three sons? How can protesters be killed? How can this 17-year old ruin his life so quickly? How can a 17-year old who goes to prison for these infamous shootings possibly survive in the prison yard? Above all, why are things so bad that this kid has to be out there at all?
How can a government claim to be the global leader of freedom and modernity when they cannot even fulfil the basic function of any sort of government – to provide physical security to all its citizens? This was the first question everyone should have asked, but nobody in the US asks it because they assume it is impossible to achieve. I asked the Blake family about this first rule of government and Jacob Blake’s uncle answered “security” before I even finished the question.
But unlike many on the left I immediately understood where Kyle Rittenhouse was coming from, at least partially – I have seen these types before.
Leftist love for Blake, but why not leftist understanding for Rittenhouse?
Because he was raised in reactionary America Rittenhouse likely does not have the proper, modern and progressive education of these groups I’m about to list, but I immediately saw the possibility of similarities between him and members of the Iranian Basij, the Cuban members of Committees for the Defense of the Revolution and members of the Chinese Communist Party. I immediately perceived a possibility that Rittenhouse was not motivated by only evil, racism and rage, but by a desire to help and serve, patriotic love, self-sacrifice and other worthy impulses.
The US left is mostly “fake-leftist” not because they know essentially nothing about those aforementioned groups, but because they don’t even want to learn non-propaganda about them. Like all American evangelists: they have all the answers already.
And so the knives came out immediately for this kid.
I heard on CNN analysts immediately declaring that Rittenhouse was affiliated with White supremacist groups – no such proof was ever found. The young man was rather clearly preparing for a job in law enforcement and was a big fan of groups like Blue Lives Matter, but that doesn’t make him a White supremacist. Terrible, yellow journalism.…
Everywhere you looked US (fake) leftists were demanding they throw the book at Rittenhouse, make an example of him, use the death penalty. The lack of empathy and bloodlust was quite shocking – 17 years old is a minor in most of the US. How can you say that a 17-year old is already beyond redemption? Answer: Be a secular/faux-spiritual US fake-leftist, I guess….
Jacob Blake was no angel – he had a warrant out for his arrest – and neither was Kyle Rittenhouse. However, making their personal lives the story here is only a way to guarantee that the structural failures they now personify never get resolved. Blake should never have been shot in the back seven times like that and Rittenhouse should have never felt forced to get on the street due to governmental abandon – and yet in the US the approach to such events is to personalise the participants as if they had willingly done so like Kim Kardashian. Such is the shallow depth of Anglo-American journalism, sadly – the only difference is that in the UK the blood runs cold and in the US the blood runs hot.
Fake-leftists won’t even have read this far (again, proselytisers already know what is “important”) and yet I must be on the right track because Rittenhouse immediately had so very, very many supporters – such persons grasped that Rittenhouse might have been partially misguided, but that he was also likely motivated by some positive socio-political things.
The reality is that the intellectual foundation of this “never Rittenhouse” group is the assertion that Rittenhouse and his supporters are all driven by purely reactionary intentions, such as White supremacism. That is totally absurd to anyone who knows America: half of all White Americans simply don’t have the time or inclination to sit around at home and meditate on White supremacism and plot its victory – they used to, but they stopped. Such a theory incorrectly assumes that roughly 30 years of applying the political correctness lens has had zero positive effect on White Americans.
Also: in the unique United States owning a semi-automatic rifle is so widespread that it cannot possibly make one crazy, but the fake-leftist desire to continually deny this obvious reality provided another reason for all the yellow journalism. I’m not going to waste my time on this issue other than: gun control is a huge waste of time for the US left – it is a lost cause and only serves to alienate the left from huge segments of society. This is just how the Western hemisphere is (except Cuba) – you are blowing your political capital! Leftists and centrists don’t have to own semi-automatics, but vilifying those who do is as politically useful as vilifying those who own pets in America.
Who and what values does the US left truly admire?
I have to pass on an unfortunate reality: not all gun-toting heroes are as handsome and dashing as Che Guevara.
Your average male Basiji buttons his shirt all the way to the top, wouldn’t be caught dead in public in shorts and would likely pause and reflect if you asked him whether he was “dashing”. Basiji women can be similarly blasé about being perceived as chic.
But I guarantee you that if they protected your house from being burnt down, or prevented your getting thrown into poverty due to your store’s stock being looted, you would think these nerds were the coolest people in the world.
What on earth was cool about listening to Fidel preach for four hours? In smaller groups he would do that as a way to test people – to see if they had nerdy levels of political endurance and interest. Progressive revolutions need nerdy, order-concerned people, and also people willing to follow orders.
There is no real doubt that Rittenhouse saw his actions as trying to embody the ideals of a genuine political revolution – it was an aristocratic, now-outdated revolution, but US fake-leftists appear to think he was on the streets to protect King George III?
I have learned not to bother asking US fake-leftists about their opinion of the 17-year old Basiji who in 1980 went to face the Iraqi invader (and the soldiers of many Western nations) totally, totally outgunned and died to protect his family and home. Asking an American Democrat to comment on the still-living reality of these enormous sacrifices is like asking them to comment about life on a distant planet.
Rittenhouse is not a hero such as they, of course, but the US left cannot even perceive the world in these very real, life and death terms – Rittenhouse and his supporters grasp this reality much better.
The American fake-left instead are consumed with identity politics and transgender bathrooms – they have no real concept of what leftism is for countries which have actually seen war and colonisation. Nor do they have the imagination or the empathy to understand that many readers were actually just thinking, “No, Rittenhouse is indeed just such a hero as they – our revolution mattered, too.” Well, I disagree, but such persons must be understood and their revolutionary potential must be updated with the global knowledge learned after 1776 – they should not be locked up, ignored or vilified.
I simply don’t know who the US left’s hero or model for behavior is? I know it’s not Che or Mao or Fidel or Khamenei, and those are big ones, so forget about the less famous leftist heroes. I know it is not a 17-year old who threw himself on an Iraqi grenade to save some of his fellow citizens because the US can’t do anything but demonise the Rittenhouse young man and say “vote Biden”, instead of saying, “A system which demands Rittenhouse play cop is a bad system which must be drastically changed.”
Frankly, I think it’s people like Beyonce, who was deemed to be the equivalent of Malcolm X, that truth-telling exemplar of political courage, because she ambiguously danced in an X-shape at the Superbowl in 2016. (She also danced in arrow, straight lines and a triangle, LOL.) In the US what seems to be most admired is the ability to mix the lowest common denominator of both politics and pop culture with outer good looks – of course, in this manner the present status quo is affirmed and beautified. The US left is, of course, not revolutionary in the slightest, nor is Beyonce. Their real left has no chance, sadly, amid a 150-year party duopoly.
Iran or Kenosha, 17-year olds shouldn’t have to step in to stop chaos, but sometimes they have to
In 1980 armed chaos was not the fault of Iran’s new republican government, which was all of one year old: they inherited an army which was purposely rendered weak and divided by the shah – that was his long-running strategy to avoid an armed coup. Eight long years of armed chaos was provoked by the Western-backed and armed Saddam Hussein, of course – Iran was victimised, and the Western goal obviously was to create armed chaos to upend the nascent popular revolution.
So what’s the similar excuse for the US government’s inability to prevent armed chaos in Kenosha? There is none. The US left can’t see that Rittenhouse is a partial hero to many Americans precisely because he was victimised by the US system because he got forced into the role of defender.
The US fake-left also cannot grasp that revolution is not primarily motivated Schumpeterian/anarchic “creative destruction” aimed to get likes on Instagram, but by defense of home, country and the well-being of your fellow citizen. Indeed, the conservative American’s view of political revolution appears far more advanced than the liberal American’s view of it.
On that fateful night, why did they choose to grab the gun of Rittenhouse, and not some other grizzled, bearded AR-15 toter? Simple – because he looked like the easiest prey.
The whole affair reminds me of Richard Jewell, the hero-terrorist-hero 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing: back then the media rushed to assume the worst about another chubby, security-loving White nerd who lived with his mother, and were totally, totally wrong. It’s amazing to see how few in the media and the public have made the same seeming mistake with Rittenhouse. Clint Eastwood’s 2019 movie Richard Jewell is a very fine flick – he correctly lambasts the media, but our problem in 2020 is that thanks to computers everyone is a journalist, thus the outpouring of unjournalistic unfairness towards Rittenhouse.
That result comes down to the US left’s demand to demonise – everything is black and white, us vs. them – but this is a problem resulting from the entire, fundamentally evangelical US culture. (Muslim countries, of course, cannot be evangelical like Christian ones because Islam forbids forced conversion – there are no Muslim monk proselytisers.) I could write this a million times and still not get it across to them: US leftists can be as self-righteously evangelical as a Pentagon employee – it’s just imbued in American culture.
The US left doesn’t have to embrace Rittenhouse, of course, but it’s a thick-headed leftist who doesn’t possess the imagination, empathy and experience to at least consider that the kid may not have been the personification of Satan.
People were initially incensed because Rittenhouse was from out of town, but that’s not really true: he worked as lifeguard in Kenosha. Anyway, he lived just 21 miles away. It’s not like Rittenhouse was travelling from a different country. Internationalism is the hallmark of modern leftism, so it’s very telling that US fake-leftists are so riven with tribalism that Rittenhouse was so roundly criticised for “invading” the tribe of Kenosha.
Rittenhouse was not alone in violating this “closed border” view: the Kenosha newspaper I read on September 2 the local tally they gave was 145 arrests – only two were from places far away such as Minnesota and California. Only a handful of US urbanites live in a city which is 21 miles north to south; 21 miles is a major trek to a Frenchman but it’s nothing to car-loving Americans in both suburbs and rural areas.
One’s sense of space and the land’s reach, gun control, a desire to protect life and property due to governmental abandon, feelings of patriotic duty and self-sacrifice – the Rittenhouse affair shows us so many gulfs between the US left and socio-political success. These gulfs are largely due to an urban/rural separation – they must be bridged, as they will never be eliminated, if the US left ever hopes to unite the country.
The rural/urban divide is the most pernicious divide across the West today, and that’s why I’ve written so much about the Yellow Vests (who were back on the streets last weekend!) and their intersection with the Chinese Cultural Revolution, which was the greatest single attempt to bring together town and country in modern times. It seems about as many Western leftists understand either phenomenon as much as they are willing to understand Kyle Rittenhouse….
Resolving the structural issues which produced the state’s attempted assassination of Jacob Blake is hugely important, but so are the structural failures which forced a 17-year old to patrol the streets. It’s quite telling about an American, leftist or not, if they only care about one and not the other.
Ramin Mazaheri is currently covering the US elections. He is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.