In Kenosha, The Seeds of Civil War - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
In Kenosha, The Seeds of Civil War
Kenosha, Wisconsin, Aug. 24, 2020 (Michael R. Schmidt/

A previous entry in this space, written after an active-duty Army sergeant moonlighting as an Uber driver in Austin shot and killed a “mostly peaceful” anti-police protester who pointed his rifle at the driver at close range, talked about the make-believe revolution that has been taking place on the streets of America’s worst-run cities this summer:

Was this a sad occurrence? Sure. It’s never a happy thing that a 28-year-old is gunned down on a city street in America.

Yet what happened to Garrett Foster was bound to happen to someone, because too many Americans, particularly among the participants in the make-believe revolution, haven’t learned a real lesson yet.

Which is that people get killed in a revolution.

Point a gun at the driver of a car you’re blocking in on a city street, after footage of drivers being pulled out of cars and beaten in similar circumstances is everywhere on the internet, and you will be one of the lives claimed in that revolution.

Stupid lives don’t matter. Not when those lives are risked so irresponsibly.

But Austin didn’t stop the make-believe revolution. It continued. And when a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, shot a 29-year-old black man named Jacob Blake after a rather bizarre incident in which Blake, a participant of some kind in a domestic dispute who was wanted in connection with another incident involving third-degree sexual assault, trespassing, and disorderly conduct, fought with police and then walked around the front of his car as he was being tased to no effect, and then reached into the driver’s side of the vehicle while a policeman attempted to restrain him by his shirt. At some point the incident escalated to Blake being shot seven times in the back; he’s now paralyzed from the waist down.

A knife was found on the floor of the driver’s seat of the vehicle. It’s unclear whether it was there and Blake was reaching for it, or if he already had it and dropped it when he was shot.

The policemen involved are on administrative leave. But for two nights following the Blake incident, despite pleas from his family not to resort to violence, Kenosha erupted in rioting and looting. Entire city blocks have burned to the ground, and more than 30 local businesses in the once-peaceful town of 100,000 along Lake Michigan just north of the Illinois border have been destroyed.

By Tuesday night, armed groups of volunteers, who could be defined as militia or perhaps vigilantes, had congregated in Kenosha with a mission to protect those businesses surviving the first two nights of violence. One of them appeared to be a libertarian group whose message to the Antifa and Black Lives Matter “mostly peaceful” rioters was that if they wanted to torch government buildings or fight the police, they were indifferent; looting and burning private property, however, was not acceptable.

Included in that group was a 17-year-old from Antioch, Illinois, just on the other side of the border named Kyle Rittenhouse, who reports say is the son of a local policeman. Earlier Tuesday Rittenhouse had joined volunteers in washing graffiti off the outer walls of the main building at a high school in Kenosha. How he ended up holding a long gun with much older adults in that militia group Tuesday night is unclear.

It’s also unclear how Rittenhouse got separated from the group. What is known is as the group massed to defend a gas station from a gaggle of Antifa/BLM types who grew increasingly hostile, elements of the Antifa side made their way to a nearby car lot where they attempted to set vehicles aflame and took baseball bats to windshields in an attempt at wholesale destruction of private property.

Not long after that, as visible from video collected at the scene, Rittenhouse was being chased by an individual, described as a 36-year-old from Kenosha, who threw something at him. Reports had it the object was a Molotov cocktail; if that’s true, it either wasn’t lit or didn’t ignite. Rittenhouse turned and shot the individual, who collapsed to the ground with a bullet to the head and expired shortly thereafter.

On video, Rittenhouse is then seen pulling out his phone and making a quick call, and for a moment it looks as if he intends to wait at the scene — perhaps for law enforcement, perhaps not. But someone in the crowd is heard exhorting the Antifa side to “get” Rittenhouse, and he beats a fast retreat.

Video shows him being chased by what looks like well more than a dozen people, and he trips as he runs. At that point he’s attacked by three people in succession. One, a black man, kicks him and then runs away. The next, Anthony Huber, a 26-year-old from Silver Lake, a town about 20 minutes away from Kenosha, beats Rittenhouse with a skateboard and then attempts to wrest his rifle away. The shoulder strap holds and Rittenhouse shoots Huber center-mass; he staggers a few feet away and then collapses and dies.

Then a third man, 26-year-old Gaige Grosskreutz of suburban Milwaukee, who is a member of something called the People’s Revolution Movement, approaches Rittenhouse with a pistol in his right hand. On video Grosskreutz comes within a few feet of Rittenhouse, who at this point has righted himself and is in a sitting position with his rifle raised in defense, and pauses; Grosskreutz then rushes Rittenhouse, who shoots him in the arm and badly wounds him, but not fatally.

Rittenhouse then makes his way down the street in what looks like a defensive retreat toward the advancing police vehicles. He puts his hands in the air and is not arrested.

After the fracas, Rittenhouse returned home to Antioch, but he was arrested Wednesday on first-degree murder charges.

What to make of this?

First of all, 17-year-olds ought not be carrying long guns in riot-torn streets in neighboring states on school nights. While all three shootings clearly appear from the video to be acts of self-defense, as all three “victims” can be seen attacking Rittenhouse with weapons, it’s not clear a 17-year-old can legally open carry in Wisconsin. He’s also violating a curfew, though so is everyone else on the scene. It’s a fair criticism that this volunteer group/militia/vigilante cabal he’s part of ought not to accept 17-year-olds in their number. For that reason, one should feel at least somewhat reticent to heap too much praise on Rittenhouse or his mission.

That said, Kyle Rittenhouse, or someone like him, was utterly and completely inevitable, and the People’s Revolution Movement and other Antifa/BLM covens bear total responsibility for his appearance.

What did you morons think was going to happen? That you could continue burning down a small city in middle America without any resistance? People are going to defend their lives and property sooner or later, you know. You may have caught a break in that your nemesis turned out to be a 17-year-old you can cancel as a crazed would-be school shooter, but the next incident might very well run your people up against decorated Navy SEALS or Marines or retired cops with unblemished service records. Or just plain pillars of the community well-versed in firearms. Particularly in a place like Wisconsin where those with hunting licenses represent a fighting force as large as the army of many a small nation.

The citizenry will eventually fight back.

And when it does, nobody ought to be surprised. The make-believe revolution must at some point become real. In Kenosha it became real. And in real revolutions people get killed, because more than one side is fighting.

But while Antifa and Black Lives Matter have lit the match to this powderkeg, perhaps the real culprits are the men standing by with buckets of water but refusing to use them to douse the fuse. And for that, Wisconsin’s Democrat Gov. Tony Evers is far more at fault for the Kenosha bloodshed than is Kyle Rittenhouse.

Evers spun the Blake incident into the riot it turned out to be, for political reasons. He issued a fiery statement bashing the police without knowing anything about the case and used it as a lever to demand the Wisconsin Legislature convene a special session to debate social-justice measures. And then, when his creation quickly got out of control and local law enforcement notified Evers they needed 750 National Guardsmen to restore order, he provided only 250.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows then offered Evers 500 Guardsmen to supply the balance of what was needed.

Evers turned him down on Tuesday.

And Tuesday night, two people lay dead.

On Wednesday, Evers deployed the 500 additional Guardsmen.

That kind of atrocious leadership is by no means limited to Wisconsin. It is what has ignited the make-believe revolutionaries all over the country and turned city after city into burned-out ghost towns. And after months of Portlands and Minneapolises, the suburbs and smaller cities (an incident not dissimilar to Kenosha played out in Lafayette, Louisiana, over the weekend and was spinning into a similar mess until Hurricane Laura’s approach washed it away, at least for now) are beginning to smolder.

And the nation’s silent majority is beginning to crackle.

When CNN’s Don Lemon, who has done as much as anyone to justify and cheerlead the Black Lives Matter movement, is now putting on the brakes because, he says, public discontent with riots is beginning to show up in the presidential polls, it’s a sign things have gone too far.

But the real question is whether the People’s Revolution Movement and the rest of the make-believe Che Guevaras out there, the ones presumably just a little smarter than those who think it’s a good idea to chase someone with a gun he just used, are put off by the idea they’re doing damage to Joe Biden’s campaign hopes.

I fear that consideration is of no interest to them whatsoever.

My guess is if they ever thought Biden would win, they never really believed his promises to give them the keys to the kingdom. I think a lot of the Antifa/Black Lives Matter mob might be deluded into thinking their make-believe revolution could be real without any real cost to them and their friends, and making it a real revolution has been and is their goal.

I think the genie is out of the bottle. I think Kenosha showed us a glimpse of it. And I think unless the political class in states like Wisconsin, Oregon, Washington, New York, Minnesota, and elsewhere finally wakes up, the sad fact is it could well require thousands or even millions of Kyle Rittenhouses to put out the fires raging along Lake Michigan and elsewhere.

And that’s an even larger problem than what happens on November 3. For both sides.

Scott McKay
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Scott McKay is a contributing editor at The American Spectator  and publisher of the Hayride, which offers news and commentary on Louisiana and national politics, and, a national political news aggregation and opinion site. Additionally, he's the author of the new book The Revivalist Manifesto: How Patriots Can Win The Next American Era, available at He’s also a writer of fiction — check out his three Tales of Ardenia novels Animus, Perdition and Retribution at Amazon. Scott's other project is The Speakeasy, a free-speech social and news app with benefits - check it out here.
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