The president extended his warped sympathies today beyond out-of-control police officers and his administration’s paramilitary forces to death-dealing armed vigilantes in this remarkable exchange at the White House:
Recognizing that we don’t know everything about the killings in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Trump’s leap to the defense of Kyle Rittenhouse is either pathological or a deadly message he wants to sent to future would-be racial-justice protesters. From video and witnesses, the two men allegedly shot and killed by Rittenhouse appear to have been armed with, respectively, a plastic bag and a skateboard (a third shooting victim may have been armed with a handgun, but that’s after the first two victims were down).
As for the surrounding circumstances, Rittenhouse was from a neighboring state, not Wisconsin; was in all likelihood illegally in possession of the AR-15-style weapon he was carrying; was violating Kenosha’s curfew; and, above all, was looking for trouble. That the local police may have tolerated him and his youthful MAGA associates is a black mark on their record, not any excuse for the young thug to swagger around the city with a loaded weapon.
It’s reprehensible that a variety of conservative writers and gabbers have already sprung to Rittenhouse’s defense — and downright sacrilegious that a “Christian” crowdfunding site has been used to raise $270,000 (so far) for his legal costs. That Trump is identifying with the vigilante’s cause on the eve of a presidential drop-in in Kenosha is far worse, particularly since Trump has made no plans to visit the family of Jacob Blake, the police-shooting victim whose plight touched off the protests that attracted Rittenhouse and his lethal weapon.
At least in his notorious comments after the 2017 white-supremacist riot in Charlottesville, Virginia, Trump expressed neutrality toward both sides in the conflict. This time around, he’s for the Brownshirt wannabes from the get-go.