The modern conservative movement is a feral dog willing to hump the leg of any bandolier-festooned nitwit who threatens or undertakes violence in the service of white hegemony and/or orange-man hagiography. It doesn’t take much to become a conservative folk hero these days. As long as you can wash your sins away with copious liberal tears, all is forgiven—nay, lauded—in MAGA-land.
Consider Ashli Babbitt, who was shot and killed while trying to force her way into the House chamber during a deadly insurrection against the legitimate government of the United States and is now being held up as a victim or, in many circles, a patriotic hero. Or Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the St. Louis couple who waved guns at marchers who were clearly plotting to break into their home to steal their Precious Moments dolls. Naturally, they were later invited to speak at the Republican National Convention. Mark McCloskey is now trying to leverage his infamy into a seat in the U.S. Senate. (Guess which picture he’s using on the homepage of his campaign website?)
But right-wingers’ support and praise of an accused double murderer really takes the cake. Who travels across state lines with an AR-15 to a racial justice protest and kills two people? Kyle Rittenhouse, that’s who.
Of course, Rittenhouse and his lawyers are arguing that the “kid” who inserted himself into the middle of an out-of-state protest while carrying an assault-style rifle was merely acting in self-defense. But prosecutors in his murder trial are now arguing that he was likely looking for trouble—and notoriety.
Prosecutors are trying to introduce evidence at trial that Kyle Rittenhouse is associated with the Proud Boys and that he had a past violent encounter on Kenosha’s lakefront.
The state filed an “other acts” motion Thursday asking the court to admit evidence at Rittenhouse’s trial for shooting three men during protests in Kenosha last August. The shooting left two men dead and another seriously injured. Rittenhouse, 18, is charged with two counts of homicide and one of attempted homicide. He and his supporters have maintained that Rittenhouse was defending himself when he shot the men.
In the motion filed Thursday in Kenosha County Circuit Court, Assistant District Attorneys Thomas Binger and Jason Zapf asked Judge Bruce Schroeder to allow them to admit evidence that Rittenhouse is associated with the Proud Boys, a group classified as a terrorist organization by the Canadian government and as a hate group by the U.S. based Southern Poverty Law Center.
It’s likely that if Rittenhouse was associated with Black Lives Matter (not a violent terrorist organization, by the way) his actions would be framed somewhat differently by right-wing media. But since he was fighting on the white and “right” side, conservatives are sticking with the story that he was merely acting in “self-defense.”
“Much like members of the Proud Boys take pride in violence, the defendant is evidently proud that he killed two people and seriously wounded a third,” the prosecution motion stated. “He has posed for selfies as if he is a celebrity. His family has sold merchandise with his image on it that celebrates his acts of violence. The fact that he has since celebrated his notoriety strongly suggests that he set out to achieve the goal of becoming famous.”
According to prosecutors, Rittenhouse’s association with the Proud Boys is relevant because “it goes to the defendant’s motive and intent for coming to Kenosha on Aug. 25, 2020.”
On Jan. 5, Rittenhouse was photographed in a Wisconsin bar making the white supremacist “OK” sign. A video taken at the time included footage of his compatriots singing the Proud Boys anthem.
“The state has since learned that the people with the defendant at the bar on Jan. 5, 2021 include the leader of the Wisconsin ‘Proud Boys’ organization and several of its highest-ranking members,” the prosecution stated. “Obviously, the defendant shares their beliefs and has, in fact, been named an honorary member of the organization.”
Prosecutors also hope to introduce video of Rittenhouse sucker-punching a girl a month before his Kenosha rampage. Rittenhouse is the one in the all-American shorts.
The prosecution’s motion describes the incident this way: “The defendant grabs one of the two female teenagers (who is wearing a black shirt) from the back as this female subject is grappling with another female. The defendant then begins to punch her in the back repeatedly with a closed fist. As this female teenager is pulled away from the defendant due to her ongoing struggle with another female, the defendant chases after her and begins to punch her in the back again.”
So there’s your exemplar of conservatism: A kid who travels to a chaotic protest with an assault rifle, kills two people, hangs out with violent right-wing agitators after the fact and, oh yeah, punches girls when they’re not looking.
The GOP continues to devolve at lightning speed. I remember a day when a conservative hero was a dude like William F. Buckley, who, as far as I know, never once sucker-punched Bella Abzug. He was just an asshole. Can’t Republicans go back to simply being assholes? Please?
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