It took a while, but at last something reassuring emerged in the aftermath of the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse for murder by a mostly white jury in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
That would be Dahleen Glanton’s insightful column in Sunday’s Sun-Times—one of the few sympathetic appraisals in the mainstream press of Joseph Rosenbaum, Anthony Huber, and Gaige Grosskreutz, the three men who Rittenhouse shot.
He killed Huber and Rosenbaum, and wounded Grosskreutz.
Until Glanton’s column, Rosenbaum, Huber, and Grosskreutz were, at worst, commie agitators who deserved what they got. Or, at best, weird abstractions, not even victims.
Can’t call them victims by ruling of Judge Bruce Schroeder, who said the point of the trial was to determine whether they brought it on themselves. How that’s not the case of a right-wing judge canceling the culture of the prosecutor, I do not know.
But then Glanton weighed in—not just mentioning Rosenbaum, Huber, and Grosskreutz by name, but reminding us of why they were in Kenosha in the first place.
And here I’m going to quote at length from Glanton’s column . . .
“From the moment Rittenhouse was charged with killing two men and injuring another with his semi-automatic rifle during a protest over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, this case has been about sending a message.
“This time, it was from the far-right wing to young white people who support the Black Lives Matter movement.
“‘Don’t get involved with social justice reform. Don’t protest senseless police killings. Just sit back and enjoy your white privilege. If you take to the streets with the Black Lives Matter crowd, you might end up dead. And we’re going to do everything possible to make sure your killer walks free.’
“In other words, young white people, if you believe that Black lives matter, your life means nothing.”
She went on . . .
“We don’t know why Rosenbaum was there that night. He suffered from mental illness. But Huber was among those who took to the streets of Kenosha because they believed a white police officer had wrongly shot Blake, 29, seven times in the back in front of his children. Blake was left partially paralyzed.
“Gaige Grosskreutz, 27, whom Rittenhouse shot and injured, testified he was a trained EMT and paramedic and was on the scene to offer medical assistance.
“It is likely these young men, like many of us, had heard so many stories of unjust police shootings that they were no longer shocked by them. It is possible they felt they had to get off the sidelines and take a stand.
“The right’s disdain for the Black Lives Matter movement is no secret. No one needs to be reminded of its campaign to paint the social justice group as a terrorist organization and label everyone who attends a protest as a looter or rioter. We’re used to that.
“But when Rittenhouse, a young white man, shot three other young white men during the protest, the right wing saw a unique opportunity to turn the shooter into a hero, without the baggage that would normally come if the victims were Black.
“This was a rare opportunity to send a warning to white sons and daughters all over the country—that associating with Black Lives Matter is dangerous and deadly.”
Well said, Dahleen Glanton, well said. And absolutely true.
I suppose I’m sympathetic to young protestors like Huber, Rosenbaum, and Grosskreutz because I’ve seen people like them at demonstrations here in Chicago. Like the protests against closing schools and mental health clinics.
They remind me of the young radicals back in the 70s who showed up at Klan rallies to confront the Klansmen. Way too dangerous for a middle-of-the-road guy like me.
On November 3, 1979, the Klansmen counterattacked in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Members of the Communist Workers Party were holding a demonstration for workers’ rights. And a bunch of Klansmen and Nazis drove up, hopped out of their cars, pulled out guns, and started shooting.
They killed five of the demonstrators: three white, two Black, and one Hispanic.
Just like in Kenosha with Rittenhouse, the local prosecutors charged the Klansmen with murder. And just like in Kenosha with Rittenhouse, the Klansmen won acquittal with an argument of self-defense.
The Greensboro massacre occurred on the eve of the Reagan Revolution, when conservative Republicans took over the White House and Senate and attempted, often successfully, to undo most of the New Deal initiatives that had existed since the 1930s.
Lord knows what political catastrophes await us in next year’s midterm elections.
So it’s hard not to position the Greensboro shootings in the political context of the Reagan era. Just as it’s hard not to position Rittenhouse’s acquittal with what’s happening in our country right now. To do so is like slapping blinders on your eyes so you don’t see what’s going on.
Just to give you a sample . . .
In the aftermath of the acquittal, Republican congressman Paul Gosar offered Rittenhouse an internship. And Republican senator Tom Cotton demanded that President Biden apologize to Rittenhouse. Because candidate Biden had included a photo of Rittenhouse in a commercial he aired slamming Trump for not denouncing white supremacy.
Sometimes you have to laugh at the shameless gall of MAGA.
Gosar is the congressman who issued a tweet showing him killing Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Only two Republicans joined Democratic congressmen to censure him. Afterward, outraged Republicans called it cancel culture and said Democrats were stifling Gosar’s right to expression.
So Gosar has a free-expression right to threaten to kill AOC. And Rittenhouse can kill two people and demand an apology from Biden for hurting his feelings? These guys really do believe they are above the law.
They keep trying to push our country to the right. Thank you, Dahleen Glanton, for pushing back.