Rooftop Koreans defending their businesses
during the 1992 Los
I've mentioned that I don't often comment on events of the day because others
say it better than me. Regarding the Rittenhouse situation Ginny at Chicago
Boys says it better. Below is an excerpt from her post Rittenhouse Found (Appropriately) Not Guilty but Who Was?
We can say, at least I would say, that even a well-intentioned
17-year-old should avoid riots. (As our eyes could see, whatever the
networks said.) However, for most of our past 17-year-olds were
considered adults – they married, fought, supported households; forbidding
alcohol recognizes strong bodies but maturing judgement.
Nonetheless, Rittenhouse’s mission appears to have been felt honestly, the
desire to establish order is response to chaos. When faced with one
attacker, he remained, well, I’m not sure if calm is the word. Still
he didn’t shoot a man bearing in on him until that man lowered his gun,
pointed it directly at his head as he lay on the ground. Someone older
might have handled all of it with fewer deaths, someone trained to be a
policeman, a soldier. Someone like that might have been careful not
to be alone, too. But, then, we might ask – where were older
men? Who made decisions that led to that night, how could they
have been so terribly irresponsible? Where were all the grown men
(and womn), mayors and governors, that long summer? Watching the
previous day, Rittenhouse understood life would never be the same
for his father and his grandmother when property was treated cavalierly,
violence and arson unchecked. A vacuum pulled him in.
People of my age have been there before. We remember the 60’s and
70’s, then the 80’s and 90’s, we remember the destruction and
vigilantes. The gun as “peacemaker” in a lawless town is a mainstay
of our culture. The frontier might not have been as we saw it
portrayed in western after western, but the human tendencies portrayed
are: we were quite aware of what happens when order breaks down,
when our property (of all kinds, personal and real, familial and
intellectual, our bodies themselves) is not respected and protected by an
ordered society. In a vacuum, force and violence settle disputes,
access property, force servility.
A rampaging mob in St. Louis chooses rooms in a man’s house, threatening
death to pets, the rape of the man’s wife. And he is arrested for
protecting that house. A hundred cars are torched in a single lot in
Kenosha. Chaos generally leaves the weak vulnerable, as the
unprincipled, the untethered strong are unrestrained. Pop culture,
reacting, glorifies vigilantes. Sure we don’t want a country run by
vigilante justice. It simply appears the only answer: quick
and simple. It is satisfying entertainment at such a time.
In the fifties when many had seen how thin the veneer of Western order
could be, Hollywood offered Shane. Later cities became more ragged,
harsh, disordered. Vigilante plots responded to the chaos of riots
and the years of crack. Dirty Harry movies began in 1971, ended in
1987; The A Team ran from 1983-87. The Equalizer ads indicate
its contemporary protagonist (Queen Latifah) is a strong, competent but
violent defender of the weak – as was Edward Woodward, in the series that
ran from 1985-1989.
Kyle Rittenhouse felt he needed to be there, not necessarily from a
grandiose vision of himself, hardly for racist reasons, impelled by
many reasons, I assume, but underlying it was the knowledge that a vacuum
existed in Kenosha where law and order should have been.