By David Rowlands
I have no formal affiliation to the Socialist Workers Party. The ideas contained within are my own and may or may not reflect the views of the Party.
November 29, 2021
Kyle Rittenhouse trial in Kenosha poses question of rights workers need
It was not my intention to return to a discussion of the views of World Outlook (W.O.), a webzine whose main purpose is to provide a left-liberal platform and pole of attraction to former members of the Socialist Workers Party whose political sympathies are now aligned with the middle-class left.
I do not believe W.O. merits such attention, but the editorial tendered on the Kyle Rittenhouse trial and the Militant article by Naomi Craine provides the contrast needed to discuss the issues involved. I could have provided the coverage of the case proffered by the Party for Socialism and Liberation instead of World Outlook’s, as the two accounts and conclusions are very similar.
The W.O. piece, in my opinion, gets off to a very bad start, and early in the presentation.
“We’re a little dismayed by the situation,” Kenosha resident Max Lewis told NBC news. “This case should have been cut and dried. You kill two people in the street, you get punished for it, end of story.”
Well, not exactly.
Doesn’t the question of guilt and punishment depend on the circumstances that led to the shooting deaths of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, and the wounding of a third, Gaige Grosskreutz? The evidence, last time I checked, has something to do with it as well.
From the Militant:
“Rittenhouse says he acted in self-defense. Much of the evidence presented in the trial, including by the prosecution itself, bolsters his argument. In the midst of rioting and destruction, he was chased. Witnesses testified that Joseph Rosenbaum, the first of those Rittenhouse shot, had threatened to kill Rittenhouse if he caught him alone. Video and eyewitnesses confirm Rosenbaum chased the teen, lunged toward him, and was trying to grab the gun away when Rittenhouse fired at him.”
Claim Number One: Rittenhouse came to Kenosha loaded for bear.
To wit, “Rittenhouse left his home in Antioch, Illinois, and traveled to Kenosha, Wisconsin, on August 25, 2020, armed with an AR-15-style rifle.”
But this is not true. Rittenhouse was not in possession of the rifle as he left for Kenosha, a town where his father, aunts and uncles, grandmother and cousins live and where he was employed as a lifeguard. In fact, he worked a shift the day the riots broke out.
The rifle was, in fact, in the possession of the person who legally purchased the gun who then provided the firearm to Rittenhouse after he arrived, none of which is illegal. There’s a hunting exemption within Wisconsin gun law that makes it lawful for a seventeen year-old to carry, as long as the rifle is a long barrel rifle as opposed to a short-barrel rifle.
Now you may argue that such things should be proscribed, but this is where things stood, in a legal sense, on the day in question. Lots of people carry firearms besides deer hunters and pro-cop youth, including the armed brigades of the Woke. The fact is, lots of people were armed that night and many of them discharged their weapons.
Until the working-class emerges with sufficient chops to take control of the anti-racist movement, lives will be destroyed when events such as these break out. Changes are percolating in the work-places here and around the world but we’re not there yet. We need to build our unions and advance the call for a labor party. It’s not enough to be angry and sad, it is necessary to understand and then act upon that understanding.
From the Militant:
“That night Rittenhouse, then 17 and an aspiring cop, was among dozens of armed people who volunteered to defend local businesses from further attack. Though he lives in Illinois, he has family in Kenosha and was working there that day as a lifeguard. He spent the day helping clean up graffiti left from rioting the night before. In the evening he brought his gun and his first-aid kit and went to a business he was asked to help defend. As rioters flooded the area, he was attacked. Rittenhouse then shot and killed two people associated with the violence and wounded a third.”
Claim Two: Rittenhouse was responsible for the events that unfolded.
The situation was tendered by the widespread rioting, looting and arson that took place after the sun went down, in the aftermath of the daylight demonstration demanding justice for Jacob Blake, who was shot seven times in the back by a Kenosha cop and partially paralyzed. The usual suspects – the hooligans rampaging under the veil of the fight for Black rights – extinguished any possibility that justice for Brother Blake would be served.
From the Militant:
“This correspondent (Naomi Craine/dr) joined protests and attended a news conference Aug. 25 organized by Blake’s parents calling for prosecution of the cop who shot their son. His mother spoke, saying she supported continued protests, but opposed looting and destruction. I met workers there who had marched during the previous days, but left because the “craziness” started. As dusk approached, we saw people gathering who clearly intended to continue the mayhem, some openly carrying knives or guns.”
This was a continuation of the decapitation of the advancing mass movement in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and Breanna Taylor, set in motion by the anarchists and some within Black Lives Matter in the late summer of 2020, as the presidential election approached.
From the Militant:
“KENOSHA, Wisc. — The murder trial of Kyle Rittenhouse has drawn renewed attention to events that unfolded here after cop Rusten Sheskey shot Jacob Blake Jr. last year. The trial and debate surrounding it underscore the stakes for working people in opposing the violent actions carried out by antifa anarchists, a layer of Black Lives Matter leaders and other rioters.”
“Blake Jr., a young Black man, was left partially paralyzed after the Aug. 23, 2020, shooting, which sparked outrage among working people in the area. Several hundred marched from the shooting site to the Kenosha County Courthouse that day, and hundreds more rallied the following day to protest police abuse.”
“Both nights anarchists and others seized on the protests to burn down small businesses in working-class and Black neighborhoods and carry out other destruction. Four blocks in Kenosha’s Uptown district were virtually leveled.”
Claim Three: Rittenhouse was/is pro-cop.
The W.O. editors write, “The New York Times generously characterized Rittenhouse as someone “who has idolized law enforcement since he was young” and who went to Kenosha “with at least one mission: to play the role of police officer and medic. The facts showed Rittenhouse was an armed vigilante mimicking the behavior of the cops he idolized.”
That’s quite a stretch if you ask me, but even if he was/is enamored with the police, so what? When I was sixteen, I was an admirer of the police too, lots of us were. My special dream was to the become a Special Agent of the FBI, just like Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. But I was a tiny, little peanut in those days and my father eventually broke the news to me that I probably wouldn’t meet the physical requirements necessary to apply.
And as we’ve already seen, Rittenhouse did not travel to Kenosha for the purpose of hunting people down. That’s the wet dream of the Woke, the editors of World Outlook and their liberal enablers.
The question, however, is whether or not any of KR’s actions were illegal, prior to or after Rosenbaum began chasing him (in the middle of a riot) and the answer to that question is, no.
Mr. Rittenhouse was, in fact, enrolled with the local Boy Scout Explorer program for those interested in a career of “law enforcement”. The picture below shows him in his Explorer’s uniform. Again, there’s nothing illegal about being a Boy Scout interested in being a cop.
Claim Four: The rioters were a part of the anti-racist movement and Rittenhouse was the original aggressor.
Well, not quite.
Those rioting with wild abandon, almost all of them Caucasian, were not supporters of the struggle but out and out enemies and wreckers of the movement, and it’s they who bear primary responsibility for what happened.
Joseph Rosenbaum was a lumpen criminal and sadly, mentally ill, and was filmed, along with others, pushing a lit dumpster towards a gas station located in a working-class, residential neighborhood, and near a hospital.
Gaige Grosskreutz testified during the trial that he wasn’t political and did not affiliate to either side, one way or the other.
Most of those plundering the neighborhood were engaged in the destruction of local businesses and destroying cars, those on the car lots and those parked along the road. I’m guessing a good number or workers couldn’t make it to work the next day and weren’t really in the position to afford a day without pay. Or make repairs to their damaged (or destroyed) property.
Anthony Huber seems to be the one exception of those killed or injured, but when all is said and done, you can’t beat someone over the head with a skateboard and not expect a defensive reaction. From the onset it was Rittenhouse who was being chased, which made a guilty verdict not a serious option for people (like the jury) who are not interested in creating narratives that reinforce a preconceived Wokeist view. The same thing applies when you point a Glock at someone’s head.
This may be a good time to note that a jury in southern Georgia, comprised of eleven Caucasians and one African-American, just convicted the three vigilantes who killed Amaud Arbery. Many a Woke headed exploded when news of the verdict came down. They’ll be going away for a good long time. Hurrah!
And yes, like any normal human being I grieve for the young lives lost, and the families and friends who lost the ones they loved, including those who died in Kenosha.
Claim Five: The judge was being mean to the prosecution.
I watched much of the trial and the only time I saw the judge truly exasperated was when the prosecutor moved against the defendant’s fifth amendment right to remain silent, in front of the jury, when he inquired of Rittenhouse under cross why he waited until the trial to tell his story. Had the state somehow managed to win a conviction, most likely it would’ve been overturned on appeal on this alone, and this is a judge that is well known to be pro-prosecution, as most judges are.
It should also be noted, for the record, that the judge would not allow the criminal records of the two men killed and the one wounded admitted into evidence as requested by the defense and opposed by the state.
Liberal pontificators have been commenting since the trial concluded that this case proves judges should not be elected but appointed, because, you know, the working masses are racist and dim-witted deplorables that don’t know what’s good for them. They’re increasingly unhappy about our right to vote for legislators, too, along with our fight for democratic rights in general, our fight for reproductive rights, the rights of oppressed nationalities, and the struggle to build our unions.
Six: Imprison Rittenhouse and throw away the key.
“Rittenhouse deserved a guilty verdict on all counts and a long sentence behind bars for the crimes he committed. “
The original wording of the W.O editorial called for a life sentence, but apparently that language was amended by the editors, as this proved to be a bit much for some of their more critical minded posers.
First of all, this case should have never been charged, and after it was charged, he should have been tried as a juvenile. Secondly, since when do socialists, even socialists made soft by the non-stop rain of liberal public opinion, call for a life sentence without parole, or a near life sentence for people who are eighteen years of age, seventeen at the time of the offense?
Frankly, when do defenders of the working-class advocate for such harsh punishments ever? Only when the person is so dangerous that it would be perpetually unsafe to release him or her into the civil population.
The World Outlook editorial is a study in slipping faculties, weak and subjective, shrill and elitist, and bereft of any kind of analysis of how the rights won through centuries of struggle, such as the presumption of innocence and the standard of reasonable doubt, manifest in these events. Such deficiencies, as one would expect, were not present in the article by Comrade Craine. In fact, defending the rights of the working-class, along with a presentation of the facts involved, was the core element of her article.
Rights that are needed now and will be needed in the future by the laboring people to advance their interests, and of which must be jealously guarded.
From the Militant:
Much of the “left” argues that it will be a great injustice if Rittenhouse is acquitted. They insist he’s a “white supremacist,” though there’s no evidence that’s true and it’s not an issue in the trial. “Rittenhouse was driven by undoubtedly racist motivations to wield a gun against demonstrators taking part in the movement for Black lives,” says a Nov. 11 article on the Party for Socialism and Liberation’s website. “There is no question that Kyle Rittenhouse is guilty.”
Fortunately for the working-class and the basic principles of justice, the jury thought otherwise, as have a growing number of people who are reexamining their previous position concerning this case.