The Real Lesson of the Rittenhouse Trial
In a critical assessment of the Rittenhouse trial, Conrad Black denies that the outcome of the case vindicated the American justice system
Because of the confluence of a competent and determined judge, courageous and diligent jurors, ludicrously incompetent and dishonest prosecutors, and enough intelligent media attention to counter the 15 months of biased reporting that could easily poison the jury pool, justice was clearly done, to peals of horror of the Americophobic riffraff that infects most of America’s media. It would be a tragedy if this exemplary outcome were to whitewash what is in large measure an evil justice system.
Black is mainly concerned here with the plea-bargaining system that state prosecutors use to condemn defendants even before a trial has taken place. But this is not the part of Black’s criticism that riveted my attention. The American justice system has become “evil” for a reason that Black only mentions in passing, namely the role of the media in inciting mob violence by racializing criminal cases.
We saw this play out in the Rittenhouse case; we are now witnessing something similar taking place during the trial of three white men in Brunswick, Georgia, who shot a young black, Ahmaud Arbery. During the thirteen days that the trial was in session, blacks, many of them carrying guns, demonstrated in front of the courthouse. The mainstream media, which raged against Kyle Rittenhouse for carrying a rifle in violence-wracked Kenosha, took no offense that the antiwhite Left paraded around with firearms. Those bearing these arms enjoyed the status of victims, which was applied to the rioters and looters in Kenosha as well as to gun-toting BLM members in Georgia. Apparently bearing arms, even illegal ones, is not a bad thing, if the bearer is a nonwhite racialist or a crazed white leftist, even one with a long criminal record.
The media also didn’t protest too loudly when demonstrators appeared to intimidate the judge and jurors during the Rittenhouse trial. By then they had made a prodigious effort to present the defendant as a white nationalist, who went to Kenosha by crossing state lines with an illegal gun to kill blacks. Too bad for the facts! Rittenhouse lived part of the time in Kenosha with his father, and was carrying a rifle to which he had a legal right; moreover, he shot whites, not blacks, in self-defense. Although Rittenhouse was fully exonerated in court, Black is correct that he was lucky to be let off. Justice was done because the judge and jury withstood threats and physical intimidation and ignored ‘the peals of horror of the Americophobic riffraff that infects most of the media.” The outcome could have been different, and Kyle might have spent the remainder of his life in prison, to appease the mob incited by the mainstream media.
Alan Dershowitz, a Harvard law professor who specializes in retrial cases, insisted that even if Rittenhouse was found guilty, there would be more than enough evidence to demand a retrial and possibly a mistrial. According to Dershowitz, Rittenhouse was engaging in justified self-defense when he shot and killed two assailants. He had every reason to assume these dangerous rioters intended to inflict grave harm, whether or not they were armed with guns. Although Dershowitz described the facts of the case correctly, including the unconstitutional statements made by the prosecutor, he overlooked one relevant circumstance: Rittenhouse should never have been brought to trial.
This fate befell him because of unsubstantiated media charges, seconded by President Biden, that Rittenhouse was a white supremacist murderer. If he was found guilty even in the face of video evidence that proved his innocence, why would we think that a superior court would reverse that initial decision? Perhaps the judges involved would be afraid of risking media incitement directed against their own persons. We might notice that President Biden and Vice-President Harris went after Rittenhouse, even after his acquittal. We may also assume that neither the government nor the media is through blackening his reputation.
The reason the judicial system has become so evil so fast is that the media abets violence against those they decide to destroy. And they will engage in this kind of mischief until a government, at the risk of media retaliation, reins them in. Although an attempt to keep the media from playing their incendiary games is not likely to happen any time soon, I don’t see how we can repair our justice system until such action is taken. John Zmirak’s widely cited suggestion that Rittenhouse might consider moving to Brazil, where the conservative leader Jair Bolsonaro would protect him, may have been said in jest. But I’m not sure that, given the continuing media agitation, Rittenhouse is out of the woods. He may therefore want to consider John’s advice with the seriousness it deserves.
Image: Derek Johnson
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