CW – violence (Kenosha)
Online, I pretty much live in a liberal bubble. I have tried to make sure I follow news from “the other side,” but most times I can barely stomach Reason, the one conservative newsletter I get. Lately I’ve been seeing my feeds explode with outrage that people – white folks – are focusing more on defending Kyle Rittenhouse, the Kenosha killer, rather than on defending Jake Blake, the reason protests were happening there in the first place. I’ll be honest – sometimes I get sick of my liberal feeds because it can become just a spewing fountain of outrage 100% of the time. Plus, I’m an extremely privileged person, so I saw all these people condemning those who defended Kyle, shook my head thinking “okay, are that many people really defending him?”, and moved on. I see that level of outrage so often, over so many different things, that I didn’t really believe it.
Until I talked to my brother.
I have spent almost the last 24 hours arguing with my brother over text about Kyle Rittenhouse. He sent a series of memes to a group chat we’re both in. He does this frequently, and normally they’re pretty funny. But these memes were blatantly making fun of the two men who were killed by Rittenhouse, essentially victim-blaming because “they attacked a guy with a gun, so what did they expect?”
I was livid. I called him out in the group chat and then messaged him privately. I spent all evening and all of the next day trying to explain why those memes were disgusting and why he shouldn’t have defended Kyle Rittenhouse. He doubled down on me. He argued that Kyle “had good intentions” by trying to protect businesses and that he was defending his life. He mentioned that one of the victims had a side piece and another one had a criminal record. He justified Kyle’s actions in all sorts of ways, indicating to me that he would have done the same thing had he been in that situation.
I wish I lived far enough into the woods that I could just go out there and scream. This sounds maybe overdramatic, but because of this conversation, I am a little bit despairing for my brother’s sense of humanity. Growing up, he was a kind and gentle person. I’m really not sure where that compassion went, and it scares me.
I talked with my sister about it. She’s in a few Facebook groups that have nothing to do with politics, but the people in them tend to lean conservative. She told me that many, many people in these groups have popped up making pretty much the same argument as my brother. Defending Kyle Rittenhouse is more of a topic than Jake Blake getting shot in the back seven times while he was trying to break up a fight. I get the outrage now.
I’m thinking it might be time for me to maybe talk with a counselor. I need a better outlet for my utter lack of hope in humanity than screaming in the woods.