The fact that Rittenhouse has become a folk hero among Republicans points to darker currents within the GOP, where justifications for political violence against the opposition are becoming more common. The party finds the apocalyptic fear of impending leftist tyranny useful not only for turning out its supporters, but also for rationalizing legislative attempts to disenfranchise, gerrymander, and otherwise nullify the votes of Democratic constituencies. Engineering the American political system so that Republicans’ political rivals are unable to contest their power is a less forceful solution than killing people, but the political goal is similar: to never have to share power with those they disagree with.
For this reason, the party defends those who engage in rhetoric threatening violence against their political enemies and silences those who denounce it. Whether it’s Donald Trump justifying his attempts to overturn the 2020 election, Republican members of Congress threatening their colleagues, or Fox News hosts praising Rittenhouse for “doing what the government should have done,” the desire to kill your political opponents is a sentiment no longer confined to the dark corners of the internet. The principle that canonizes Rittenhouse as a saint for defending his city from rioters, and the mob that stormed the Capitol as martyrs, is the principle that the slaughter of the right’s enemies is no crime.
Your pain delights me. Kyle Rittenhouse killed two leftist catspaws and bisected the bicep of another and there’s nothing you can do about it. https://t.co/h8IAlyjxuw— Kurt Schlichter (@KurtSchlichter) November 19, 2021
At least three House Republicans have already said they want Kyle Rittenhouse to be their intern pic.twitter.com/jMXuGj9Vdl— Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp) November 19, 2021
Divide & conquer: A sample of 32,315 pro-Rittenhouse hashtag tweets, Nov 19-20, showed 29,609 with disabled geolocation. Of those, 17,701 were listed as “foreign”, but a deep scrub revealed most of those were in Russia, China, and the EU. @Tara_Writer @TAPSTRIMEDIA #Rittenhouse— Frank Figliuzzi (@FrankFigliuzzi1) November 21, 2021