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Tag: charlie kirk

Rittenhouse's Preordained Acquittal Will Inflame More Right-Wing Violence

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

We may have an answer for the right-wing "civil war" devotee who asked Charlie Kirk the other week: "When do we get to start using the guns?" Judging from the way the trial in Kenosha, Wisconsin, is proceeding—and from the way right-wing pundits and politicians are responding—this week, the answer is: The day teenager Kyle Rittenhouse is inevitably acquitted for murdering two men at a Black Lives Matter protest last summer.

Rittenhouse's acquittal is largely a foregone conclusion. And not because the evidence points to his innocence—Rittenhouse did, after all, kill a mentally ill man whose only acts of aggression included shouting at him, flinging a plastic bag with his personal effects in them, and reaching for his gun. On the other hand, the prosecution's case has been a mixed bag at best—but more because the judge in the case, Bruce Schroeder, has placed his thumb so heavily on the scales of justice here, often in plain view. More broadly, however, right-wing political figures and extremists discussing the matter on social media are not merely defending Rittenhouse but valorizing him, holding up his murderous acts as heroic vigilantism, and demanding that other like-minded "patriots" follow in his footsteps.

It's a recipe for an outbreak of eliminationist violence directed at "the left"—who these right-wing ideologues define broadly as "antifa," Black Lives Matter, socialists, anti-police protesters, and for that matter merely liberal Democrats who support President Joe Biden. The day when the jury declares Rittenhouse innocent will become a beacon for the radical right, a giant flashing green light signaling permission to begin "using their guns," telling them their long-awaited day to "begin killing these people" without consequence or compunction has finally arrived.

We know this because that is not only what they have been telling themselves in the runup to the trial, but it's what they and their Republican enablers are now shouting from the rooftops. Leading the parade on Twitter was Republican Senate candidate J.D. Vance of Ohio, who posted a video ranting about the trial and denouncing the prosecutor for even filing charges against Rittenhouse:

"Ladies and gentlemen, it is time for us as patriots to stand up. Because if you don't fight back against the lawlessness, if we don't defend this young boy who defended his community when no one else was doing it, it may very well be your baby boy that they come for. It'll be your children whose life they try to destroy when no one else is defending their communities."

Vance repeatedly described Rittenhouse as someone who was "defending his community," even though he did not live in Kenosha, but in Illinois. He also repeatedly described the prosecutor as a "lawless thug" who was "trying to destroy his life."

The trial itself, Vance contended, represented a societal sickness: "We leave our boys without fathers. We let the wolves set fire to their communities. And when human nature tells them to go and defend what no one else is defending, we bring the full weight of the state and the global monopolists against them."

Tucker Carlson, who had adamantly defended Rittenhouse immediately after the shootings, continued in the same vein, blaming the violence on the "radicals" who were "burning down cities" and extolling the virtues of vigilantism as a natural consequence. He also claimed the Rittenhouse has "already won his case," then observed that "if you take a step back from the Rittenhouse story, you see something else entirely, you see violent insanity completely out of control in the middle of an American city. And the question is how did that happen in our country and why did nobody stop it?"

"The question, then, is how exactly are we surprised when a 17-year-old lifeguard from Illinois decides to step in?" Carlson concluded, sounding ominously like Charlie Kirk's interlocutor. "They hate it when you say that, but it's an entirely fair question. When legitimate authority refuses to do its duty, its sworn duty, others will fill the vacuum. That is always true. It's a physics principle."

And it has been from the outset. At far-right Proud Boys rallies rallies that followed the Kenosha shootings, participants began showing up wearing T-shirts declaring "Kyle Rittenhouse Did Nothing Wrong," and extolling his murders: "The Tree of Liberty Must Be Refreshed From Time to Time With the Blood of Commies," read the back of one.

Far-right Twitter maven and Gateway Pundit writer Cassandra Fairbanks retweeted an admirer's post after Rittenhouse's arrest: "I don't give a fuck anymore. I gone full Cassandra. Kill all the idiots violently terrorizing our towns. If the white suprematist [cq] do it then they're more useful than elected officials."

"Yeah," responded Fairbanks, "I'm literally just sitting here like … maybe some people will think twice about rioting tomorrow."

The primary source of their permission for violence is the eliminationist narrative the right has concocted about antifa and Black Lives Matter, concocted out of ideological and racial hysteria and conspiracy theories, depicting them as a demonic threat to the American republic. This narrative has become extraordinarily widespread, as well as deeply imbedded into the nation's political discourse, thanks largely to its constant repetition both by leading Republicans—notably Donald Trump—as well as "mainstream" right-wing media like Fox News.

We saw during jury selection for the federal civil lawsuit trial against the lethal 2017 "Unite the Right" rally organizers in Charlottesville that this wildly distorted view of "the left" has spread deeply enough to affect jury pools as well as court proceedings. In the Rittenhouse trial, it's become clear that not only the jury may be affected, but so is the judge overseeing the proceedings, Bruce Schroeder.

Schroeder, as Will Bunch explored on Twitter and at the Philadelphia Inquirer, has a troubling history of pushing "law and order" politics in his courtroom, as well as indulging in dubious courtroom behavior and head-scratching rulings. He already had informed attorneys in the case that they could not describe the three men as "victims," but would permit defense attorneys to describe them as "looters," "rioters," or "arsonists," even though none of the three were ever accused of those crimes.

This week, Schroeder also:

  • Called on the court to applaud a defense witness, who was there to testify that Rittenhouse was justified in taking two lives, for being a veteran. Schroeder, noting that it was Veterans Day, asked if anyone in the court was a veteran; when witness John Black said he was, Schroeder called for the court to applaud him. Jurors joined in on the applause.
  • Rejected video of Rittenhouse shooting one of his victims, claiming the using Apple's zoom functions might distort the image. "iPads, which are made by Apple, have artificial intelligence in them that allow things to be viewed through three-dimensions and logarithms," defense attorneys insisted. "It uses artificial intelligence, or their logarithms, to create what they believe is happening. So this isn't actually enhanced video, this is Apple's iPad programming creating what it thinks is there, not what necessarily is there." Schroeder agreed.
  • Kept forgetting to silence his phone, whose ringtone is the Lee Greenwood song "God Bless the USA." The song is the anthem of the tea party/"Patriot" right, and is used at Trump rallies as his entrance theme.
  • Refused to permit prosecutors to ask defense witness Drew Hernandez, a pseudo-journalist who specializes in filming and posting misleadingly edited videos about antifascists and anti-police protesters, about his work for former Trump adviser Steve Bannon's Real America's Voice network. Hernandez also was present at the January 6 insurrection inside the Capitol, before which he had spoken at the "Stop the Steal" rally, telling the crowd: "We punch back, we fight back. Because we will not go down without a fight. We will not go down without bloodshed. If they want a second civil war, then they got one. I will fight to the very last breath." Schroeder ruled that the jury could not learn about his background because "this is not a political trial."
  • Tried to make a joke to the court, after the jury had filed out, about the lunch that had been ordered that day: "I hope the Asian food isn't coming … isn't on one of those boats from Long Beach Harbor." (The joke went over the heads of everyone who wasn't a regular viewer of Fox News, which has repeatedly run stories about supply chain issues for Asian goods coming in to Long Beach—issues that in fact are primarily the result of Donald Trump's trade wars with China and other nations.)

Most legal observers have observed that the trial's outcome is a foregone conclusion, and many believe the primary blame lies with Schroeder and his handling of the proceedings—particularly how he has intervened at every juncture when the prosecutor has trapped Rittenhouse in a lie. Some observers describe this style as "pro-defense"—which is consistent with the judge's record—but family members of the victims surrounding the Kenosha unrest are outraged.

"It seems like he's aiming to let this man out of this courthouse scot-free and we're not going to let that happen," Justin Blake, the uncle of Jacob Blake, whose shooting by a police officer sparked the Kenosha protests, told The Washington Post. "If it happens, we're not going to be quiet about it."

Right-wing extremists are already stepping up their threatening behavior, and doing so with apparent confidence that they will face no consequences for doing so. A militia group called the Kenosha Strong Patriots posted the name, photo, and home address of Rittenhouse's chief prosecutor on Telegram. A participant disingenuously claimed: "This is absolutely not an encouragement to violence. Just would be nice to see a peaceful protest outside his home like the left does every time they don't like something."

Greg Sargent of The Washington Post observes that the embrace of Rittenhouse's vigilantism is occurring in the context of a general absorption of a violent ethos into the fabric of the Republican Party, which includes their ongoing valorization of the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection and Congressman Paul Gosar's recent anime video portraying a fantasy in which he kills his Democratic colleague.

Carlson's Fox News colleague, Greg Gutfeld, similarly chimed in that "all Rittenhouse did was to fill the void that the government left open."

"Those two people should never ever should have been out on the streets and it forced citizens to become the police," Gutfeld said.

Other right-wing pundits valorized Rittenhouse as a youth role model. As Kristen Doerer reports at Flux, one of these is Ed Martin, president of Phyllis Schlafly Eagles, who devoted an extended rant on his podcast to defending the teenager.

"And my point here in setting that up is Kyle Rittenhouse was a completely—his conduct was completely consistent with what Americans should do," Martin wrote. "Stand up for the property, stand up for their towns, stand up for what's happening. He is a hero—that's true. Kyle Rittenhouse is a hero. Kyle Rittenhouse should be regarded as someone who did the right things."

Moreover, his example is worthy of emulation, Martin opined: "He stepped up in a way that was, frankly, it was much more, it was much more worthy of praise than the tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of Americans that sat home and watched cities burn."

These themes have been the right's primary argument in support of Rittenhouse's murders since he was arrested. Moreover, the undercurrent in all of these arguments is to create permission for right-wing "patriots" ginned up on right-wing propaganda to act out their shared violent fantasies.

What Charlie Kirk's Potential Venues And Sponsors Need To Know

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

At an event this week in Boise, Idaho, right-wing commentator and Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk was asked a friendly question by an audience member: "When do we get to use the guns?" the audience member said, even further adding that this was "not a joke." He asked: "I mean, literally, where's the line? How many elections are they going to steal before we kill these people?"

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At Idaho Event, Far Rightist Asks 'When Do We Kill These People?'

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

The politics of eliminationism—in which ordinary democratic discourse is replaced by the constant drumbeat of demonization that depicts one's political opponents as inhuman objects fit only for extermination—has been growing steadily in America for well over a decade, reaching a fever pitch during Donald Trump's tenure in the White House.
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Claremont: A Proto-Fascist Think-Tank For Trumpist ‘Intellectuals’

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Although not as well-known as other right-wing think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation and the libertarian Cato Institute, the Claremont Institute has been around since 1979 — when it was founded in California by students of the late Harry V. Jaffa, who had been a speechwriter during Sen. Barry Goldwater's 1964 presidential campaign. Claremont has taken a decidedly Trumpian turn in recent years, and in a lengthy article published by The Bulwark this week, Laura K. Field (a senior fellow at the Niskanen Center) argues that Claremont has been overtaken by far-right conspiracy theorists, "election lies" and authoritarianism.

"The Claremont Institute used to be one of the principal places for conservative intellectuals to come together," Field explains. "It was founded by scholars who were taken seriously even by people who disagreed with them, and some such scholars still publish in the pages of the (Claremont Review of Books). That Claremont has been unparalleled in its intellectual submission to Trumpism should give us pause. After all, in some respects, the Claremont crowd is precisely the sort who should have known better: deeply read in political philosophy and history, and familiar with the many warning signs that Trump would be a damaging and divisive president. There is also a sense, however, in which the Claremont crowd's submission to Trump was the most predictable thing in the world — the simple culmination of a political theory rooted in jingoism and denial."

Field goes on to cite specific examples of how low Claremont has sunk, noting that Jack Michael Posobiec III, who promoted the ludicrous Pizzagate conspiracy theory, and Turning Point USA's Charlie Kirk — a promoter of the Big Lie — are both Lincoln Fellows for Claremont. According to Field, Claremont has been hijacked by "intellectual cheerleaders for Trump" and others who have promoted the Big Lie that Trump won the 2020 election and was victimized by widespread voter fraud.

Many Never Trump conservatives — from MSNBC's Joe Scarborough to Washington Post columnist Max Boot to members of the Lincoln Project — have argued that Trumpism is not traditional conservatism, but outright fascism. And in an infamous essay published by The American Mind on March 24, Glenn Ellmers (a Claremont senior fellow) admitted that Trumpism falls outside of traditional conservatism. In Ellmers' essay, titled "Conservatism Is No Longer Enough," he argued that a post-conservative approach will be needed to save the U.S. from the left, writing: "Most people living in the United States today — certainly more than half — are not Americans in any meaningful sense of the term…. It is not obvious what we should call these citizen-aliens, these non-American Americans; but they are something else."

Field explains, "The people he has in mind are the ones who voted for Joe Biden…. The real and 'authentic' Americans are, 'by and large,' the 74 million people who voted for Trump…. Ellmers' essay is a bold-faced call to anti-republican, anti-democratic, factional arms and action. More than any kind of legitimate appeal to republican or democratic norms of persuasion, it signals an acknowledgment of defeat."

To make matters worse, Fields writes, Claremont "has knowingly provided cover to, and made common cause with, an alleged white supremacist named Darren J. Beattie."

Field notes, "Beattie has a Ph.D. in political philosophy from Duke University. He was a speechwriter in the Trump White House but was fired in August 2018 for having spoken at a conference in 2016 alongside White supremacists."

Field wraps up her essay by lamenting that while Claremont wasn't always dominated by extremists, it clearly is now.

"The Claremont Institute says that its mission is 'to restore the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life,'" Field writes. "But all it has done lately is divide and despoil the public spirit."

Capitol Rioter Who Assaulted Police Traveled On Turning Point USA Bus

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

A retired firefighter who threw a fire extinguisher at police officers during the January 6 Capitol insurrection was put under pretrial house arrest on Tuesday. Robert Sanford had surrendered himself to federal authorities on multiple charges nearly a week after the insurrection. HuffPo's Ryan J. Reilly reported that according to Sanford's attorney, the defendant traveled to Washington, D.C., on a bus organized by Turning Point Action, founded by Trump loyalist Charlie Kirk.



Following the insurrection, Kirk deleted a January 4 tweet saying his organization was sending 80 buses of Trump supporters to the "Stop the Steal" rally on January 6. A Turning Point Action spokesperson claimed that the organization had sent only seven buses to the capital and that the student protesters were not involved in the day's violence.

During his January 4 podcast, Kirk stated, "Turning Point Action is being financially supportive of that rally. We are sending buses."


Charlie Kirk:

He also said during that episode: "We are at Turning Point Action helping with the big event in Washington."


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In the weeks leading up to the insurrection, Kirk spread misinformation and dangerous rhetoric involving the attempted election coup. He called on former Vice President Mike Pence to unilaterally discard state electors. He also criticized Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for congratulating President Joe Biden on his election victory, saying, "You typically don't use the term 'congratulations' when someone just stole a bank."

After the attack on the Capitol, Kirk called the violence "bad judgment" and said it was "not wise," continuing, "However, 'not wise' does not mean you're an insurrectionist."

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WATCH: Leaked Footage Reveals Trump Allies Planning To Harvest Ballots

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Leaked footage from a right-wing organization reportedly shows multiple allies of President Donald Trump advocating for ballot harvesting despite the president constantly accusing Democratic voters of doing so.

With less than 25 days to Election Day, Republican activist Charlie Kirk spoke during a closed-door gathering of conservatives hosted by the Council for National Policy (CNP) where he appeared to praise the impact coronavirus will have on the election. According to Kirk, COVID may prohibit many liberal college students from voting in the upcoming election.

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GOP Convention Opens With White Nationalist Tropes

The Republican National Convention began on Monday with a blatant nod to white supremacism.

"From that moment he came down that famous escalator, he started a movement to reclaim our government from the rotten cartel of insiders that have been destroying our country," Charlie Kirk, founder of the right-wing youth group Turning Point USA, said of Donald Trump.

"We may not have realized it at the time, but Trump is the bodyguard of Western civilization. Trump was elected to protect our families from the vengeful mob that seeks to destroy our way of life, our neighborhoods, schools, churches, and values."


According to the Anti Defamation League, which describes itself as "a leading anti-hate organization," white supremacists use the term "Western civilization" as "a code word for white culture or identity."

Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who has a long history of making racist and offensive comments, was kicked off every House committee he served on as punishment for defending his actions by wondering aloud why talking about preserving "Western civilization" was bad.

"White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?" King told the New York Times in September 2019. "Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?"

Ultimately, King lost his renomination bid in 2020, after his GOP opponent ran on a message that Iowa Republicans were finally tired of the embarrassment King brought upon the state.

But it wasn't just Kirk making nods to white supremacy.

Rebecca Friedrichs, a self-described "school choice advocate," spoke after Kirk to disparage teachers' unions, which she smeared as groups that "perpetuate division, pervert the memories of our American founders, and disparage our Judeo-Christian values."

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, talk of Judeo-Christian values is also veiled language used by far-right extremists.

"During the 1980s and 1990s, right-wing extremists were galvanized by several national issues such as the perceived erosion of parental rights and authority through court rulings, expanding multiculturalism, abortion rights and the decline of the American family farm – all perceived as an attack on their Judeo-Christian beliefs which right-wing extremists view as a key component to America's founding," the SPLC wrote in an explainer about religious extremism. "These issues were magnified because of the far-right's perception of a changing political climate which favored expanding benefits and equal opportunities to ethnic minorities, immigrants and other diversity groups."

The opening hour of the Republican National Convention, filled with dark rhetoric and white supremacism, was a far cry from the "uplifting" tone Trump promised.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Insiders Cashing In At Questionable Trump-Linked College Outfit

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica

This election, one of President Donald Trump's most influential advocates is 26 year-old Charlie Kirk, who has developed a unique bond with the first family. The conservative star dines with the president at Mar-a-Lago and rang in the new year there. During each of the last two winters, he used the club to hold a formal fundraiser for his nonprofit, Turning Point USA, that featured Donald Trump Jr.

At a Turning Point event in June, the president, addressing the crowd, said, “Let us also show our appreciation to my good friend, Charlie. I'll tell you, Charlie is some piece of work who is mobilizing a new generation of pro-American student activists." On a Turning Point webpage soliciting donations, Trump Jr., a close friend of Kirk's, is quoted as saying, “I'm convinced that the work by Turning Point USA and Charlie Kirk will win back the future of America."

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