The acquitted shooter joins a long line of accidental political pin-ups
“Do you like [girls] curvy or thick?”
This is not a question typically asked of someone who recently shot and killed two people with an AR-15. Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted on all charges, but his life after Kenosha has taken a rather bizarre, if depressingly predictable, turn (his answer, by the way, was ‘thick’).
Instead, of “laying low” as Rittenhouse suggested he would do, the 18-year-old has been working the Right-wing podcast circuit hard, answering questions about his virginity (or lack thereof) and telling Lebron James to “fuck off”. This week, he entered the Wrestle-mania phase of his celebrity as he arrived at a young conservatives conference to personalised theme music and hundreds cheering his name. Welcome to America in 2021.
Kyle Rittenhouse gets a rock star reception at the Turning Point USA event in AZ.
The teen was found not guilty of criminal charges after admitting to shooting & killing two people in WI. He says it was self defense.
He’a now seen as a hero by some activists on the right pic.twitter.com/fBvl2pKT6q
— Elex Michaelson (@Elex_Michaelson) December 21, 2021
To his credit, Rittenhouse has answered questions about his trial with care; when one meat-headed podcast host crowed that it “was kind of impressive that of all the people you shot at, you killed probably two of the worst on the planet”, Rittenhouse responded that it was “nothing to be congratulated about.” Nor did Rittenhouse try and play up to his audience, even telling Tucker Carlson that he “supports” the BLM movement.
But Rittenhouse has been subsumed into a culture war over which he has little control. Ever since Joe the Plumber harangued then-presidential candidate Barack Obama about his tax policy, there has been a conveyor belt of ordinary Americans being elevated into cult-like status on the Right. Before Rittenhouse, it was Nascar driver Brandon Brown of the now-notorious ‘Let’s go Brandon’ chant, followed by the McCloskey couple who brandished weapons at BLM protesters forcibly entering their property. And before them, Nick Sandmann, the Covington schoolboy who this week reached a settlement with NBC for defamation after media reports claimed that he and other students harassed a Native American man, Nathan Phillips.
What these new Right wing celebrities have in common is that they have all fallen prey to Left-wing overreach or malice in some way or another. They are the pin-up victims of a culture war with no antecedent status or position.
The Democrats are not afraid to make martyrs out of victims too, but their heroes aren’t Nascar drivers and teenage vigilantes. Rather, it is Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Anthony Fauci and Frances Haugen who became liberal icons for their unswerving commitment to the “Truth”, nobly treading a path dealing exclusively in facts and reality. This is, after all, the party of the professional-managerial class; their tone is grave, serious and humourless.
The new wave of icons on the Right are more likely to be accidental, half-ironic and occasionally cringe. Rittenhouse will not be the last.