I understand that the jury has still not rendered its verdict in the case of Kyle Rittenhouse and will resume deliberations tomorrow. Yesterday I posted about why I thought there was a good chance he would be acquitted and made a hero. Today I want to talk about the less likely chance that he will be convicted and made a martyr. If he is a patriot for his actions as his supporters allege and many on the right believe to be the case, then if he is convicted he will be hailed as a martyr. Which is it?
Personally, I don’t think a young man who travels from out of state carrying an automatic AR-15 style rifle to an area of heated dispute that some call riots and others protests, depending on which side of the great divide in America (and Canada) they lie, is a hero so should not be welcomed as a hero if successful or a martyr if not. Instead, he was a foolish young man who took a dangerous chance while endangering the lives of many others that led in fact to the deaths of 2 Americans while injuring a third. He was not trained for this job and took it upon himself as a vigilante to “help” the police to do their job. He made things much worse as the trail of devastation behind him made clear. It is part of their belief that “the system” cannot be trusted and only private vigilantes or warriors can be trusted.
I realize that many young American men have been raised in the Marvel FantasyLand where such actions are encouraged. They think they can stand up to the evils of a corrupt or inept system that fails to protect American citizens.
Rittenhouse should not be valorized. He was hardly a peacemaker. No one should encourage other young American men (and they are largely men who do this) to take such foolhardy and dangerous actions. Such actions are not helpful. They are pouring fuel onto an already raging fire.
Rittenhouse may or may not be guilty of murder or the other crimes he was charged with, but he is neither a hero nor a martyr. And he might be much worse.