For America today is a country where the identities of people matter more than anything else. If Rittenhouse had shot three black men then his acquittal may have led to riots. The former paper known as the Independent got around this problem by claiming in an online headline that Rittenhouse had ‘shot three black men with rifle’. Other media were happy to mislead their consumers in similar ways. And in its way it is perfect.
For in such cases anybody can be whatever you want them to be. Convicted paedophiles, armed with guns, stalking around Kenosha threatening to shoot people can be turned into ‘peaceful protestors’. White men can be made black. Fires that burn on camera for all to see can be erased from the collective memory. A thug can be turned into a martyr. And a naive young man can be turned into a stormtrooper of white supremacy.
As the Rittenhouse case was going on I happened to take a brief swing through Ferguson, Missouri. Ferguson was the scene of the shooting of Michael Brown in 2014 when BLM protestors claimed Brown had his hands in the air and shouted ‘Hands up, don’t shoot’ as he was shot. It later transpired this was untrue. Brown had been robbing a store and lunged for the arresting officer’s gun when confronted. But the lie went around the world and the crowds came out in Ferguson. The town they burned has stayed burned, by the way, with huge lots sitting like missing teeth in the areas the rioters moved through. The American media and political activists move on, but the places riddled by the lies they leave behind do not.