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Dozens of Examples Offer an Answer to the ‘What If Rittenhouse Was Black?’ Hypothetical

  Welcome back to “Forgotten Fact-Checks,” a weekly column produced by  National Review’s  News Desk. This week, we debunk one of the most r...

 Welcome back to “Forgotten Fact-Checks,” a weekly column produced by National Review’s News Desk. This week, we debunk one of the most ridiculous reactions to the Rittenhouse verdict, tip our cap to CNN, and hit our usual slate of media misses.

The World’s Least Interesting Hypothetical

How quickly a casually asked hypothetical can turn into common wisdom. After Kyle Rittenhouse — the teenager who shot three men in Kenosha amidst widespread rioting last August — was cleared of wrongdoing on self-defense grounds last week, an odd phenomenon emerged among the commentariat.

While some were outraged by the verdict itself, others rushed to insist that it would have been different had Rittenhouse not been white. Charlie Sykes of The Bulwark even preempted the decision, writing “the jury is likely to find him not guilty of murder, because they will accept his claim that he was acting in self defense.”

“BTW [by the way]: If Kyle were black, he’d be dead.)” he added.

Bubba Wallace — the NASCAR driver made famous by a noose hoax he promoted — was similarly confident, opinining, “Ha, let the boy be black and it would’ve been life…hell he would’ve had his life taken before the bullshit trial.. Sad.”

Sunday’s edition of Politico Playbook quoted the publication’s newsletter on race and identity as arguing that the Rittenhouse case ‘fundamentally changed the culture of protest’ by sending ‘a signal to those who want to take up arms to defend property or attend politically or racially charged events: There is legal ground for you to use your weapon. Just claim fear.’”

“However, those protections though likely will not extend to everyone,” asserts Playbook, before quoting Cornell William Brooks, a former president of the NAACP, as saying, “‘I don’t have to tell you this, there is no set of circumstances, no reading of the law, no rendering of the imagination, in which a Black person could get away with this.’”

Use of one’s imagination is, as it turns out, entirely unneeded to come up with examples of African Americans exercising their right to self-defense.

Amy Swearer, a legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation, almost immediately compiled dozens of instances of successful black self-defense claims in an impressively comprehensive Twitter thread.

While none of the examples perfectly mirror the highly unusual circumstances that obtained in the Rittenhouse case, taken in totality they effectively neutralize the argument that black people are routinely deprived of the right to self-defense.

Consider a couple of the more striking examples cited by Swearer. On the very same day that Rittenhouse was declared not guilty, Andrew Coffee, a black man from Florida, was, too. Coffee shot and killed his girlfriend after he mistook the use of a flashbang grenade during a police raid as gunfire, and exchanged fire with officers. He was cleared of all charges.  In another blow to the racial narrative being pushed by many in the press, a white cop from Missouri was convicted of the involuntary manslaughter of a black man on the same day that the Rittenhouse and Coffee verdicts came out.

In another emblematic case, Stephen Spencer of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., shot an unarmed white man during a physical confrontation. He was acquitted on the same self-defense grounds that kept Rittenhouse out of prison.

And on Sunday, a father daughter duo made use of their right to open-carry, standing guard alongside a protest of the verdict. Per the New York Post, they themselves were defending property on the night of the Rittenhouse shootings.

Estimates vary on the number of times firearms are used for self-defense purposes in the U.S. every year, but even lower ones peg it at around 100,000.

Headline Fail of the Week

Adam Serwer at The Atlantic reacted to the verdict by writing “Of Course Kyle Rittenhouse Was Acquitted.”  In the piece, Serwer concedes only that “it is one thing to argue that the jury reached a reasonable verdict based on this law,” and makes only a feeble attempt to submit evidence for the argument that there was a sort of race-based inevitability to the outcome of the trial. Notably, Serwer himself puts no effort into grappling with the facts of Rittenhouse’s case, attributing it only to political and racial forces.

Media Misses

  • “Instead of bringing stuffing and biscuits, those settlers brought genocide and violence,” Gyasi Ross says about the history of American Thanksgiving. “That genocide and violence is still on the menu,” reads a tweet form MSNBC. Both genocide and violence, you say?
  • Nellie Bowles, a former New York Times reporter, says the paper buried a story she wrote that contradicted the liberal narrative about rioting in Kenosha until after the election last November. Bowles, in the latest edition of the newsletter Common Sense, describes filing a story that portrayed that the “mainstream liberal argument” that “burning down businesses for racial justice was both good and healthy” as “businesses all had insurance to rebuild” was false. “The part of Kenosha that people burned in the riots was the poor, multi-racial commercial district, full of small, underinsured cell phone shops and car lots,” she said, according to the newsletter written by former Times op-ed editor and Bowles’s wife Bari Weiss. “It was very sad to see and to hear from people who had suffered. Beyond the financial loss, small storefronts are quite meaningful to their owners and communities, which continuously baffles the Zoom-class.”
  • A tip of the cap to CNN for its efforts to highlight the brutality and censorship of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP.) The network has pushed back on the CCP’s attempts to do damage control on the disappearance of professional tennis player Peng Shuai, was censored in China for pushing back, and made a visual demonstration of that censorship on-air in the U.S..
  • More Rittenhouse absurdity from Aaron Rupar, former associate editor of politics and policy at Vox:

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