Trump’s 'lionization' of Kyle Rittenhouse betray’s the MAGA movement’s darker impulses’: journalist

Trump’s 'lionization' of Kyle Rittenhouse betray’s the MAGA movement’s darker impulses’: journalist

Former President Donald Trump is among the far-right Republicans who has been praising Kyle Rittenhouse as a hero and applauding his acquittal on homicide and attempted homicide charges. Trump, who invited Rittenhouse to visit him at Mar-a-Lago in South Florida, discussed that verdict during a post-acquittal appearance on Sean Hannity's Fox News program — and liberal Washington Post opinion writer Greg Sargent, in a November 24 column, explains why he finds Trump's Rittenhouse-related comments so disturbing.

In August 2020, Illinois resident Rittenhouse traveled to Kenosha, Wisconsin, where — armed with an AR-15-style weapon — he shot three Black Lives Matters supporters (two of them fatally) during a racial justice protest. Rittenhouse maintained that he acted in self-defense, and on Friday, November 19, a jury found him "not guilty" of homicide and attempted homicide charges. Trump discussed the case during a November 23 appearance on Hannity's show.

Revealing that the 18-year-old Rittenhouse had visited him at Mar-a-Lago, Trump told Hannity, "He should not have had to suffer through a trial. He should never have been put through that."

Trump's thoughts on Rittenhouse, according to Sargent, underscore "the Trump movement's darker impulses."

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"In the days after Rittenhouse, 18, was acquitted of homicide in killing two and wounding a third amid unrest in Kenosha, Wis., two strains of Rittenhouse lionization developed on the right," Sargent explains. "One was sanitized, mainly treating his acquittal as heroic in that he evaded a would-be injustice at the hands of out-of-control leftism. The other was darker and more explicit, treating Rittenhouse as a hero for what he did: cross state lines to deliberately place himself in a combustible situation, armed to kill, in a manner likely to provoke the fighting — and lead to the killing — that did indeed take place."

Sargent adds, "Trump has, in effect, aligned his movement squarely with the second strain: Rittenhouse's conduct should never have been subjected to scrutiny by a jury of his peers in the first place; Rittenhouse is the one who meted out justice; his killing in a highly confusing situation should properly have been placed all along outside the procedural realm we describe as the 'rule of law.'"

Trump, Sargent warns, doesn't even believe that Rittenhouse should have faced legal "scrutiny" in the first place.

"The final piece of this puzzle is to suggest evaluation of this killing should have been taken out of the realm of rule of law entirely," Sargent writes. "For Trump, the injustice that occurred here is that Rittenhouse's conduct was subjected to structured, procedural evaluation within a realm of authority whose enforcement power derives from democratic decision-making. That's bad enough coming from an unhinged Fox News personality or a far-right internet fringe lurker. But this is coming from the former president of the United States — and a likely future candidate for that office, as well."

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