The Kyle Rittenhouse case was one of the most controversial trials in recent memory. When he was acquitted of murder charges, half of the country seethed while the other celebrated.
But now that the jury found him not guilty, the conversation has taken on a new form. While the left is still lying about Rittenhouse, the right has taken a different tack: They are making the 18-year-old into a conservative celebrity.
Rittenhouse recently made an appearance at AmericaFest in Phoenix, Arizona, sponsored by conservative youth organization Turning Point USA. When it was time for him to appear on stage, he walked out to roaring applause and thousands of high school and college-aged students screaming his name. A song in which Rittenhouse’s name was repeated was played while fireworks exploded. As you can imagine, the left wasn’t too happy about it, but when are they ever happy?
Kayleigh McEnany teases a segment on Kyle Rittenhouse by excitedly pointing out that he "was treated like a rock star" at his TPUSA AmericaFest speech. pic.twitter.com/V5YvE8MIP5
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) December 21, 2021
Kyle Rittenhouse takes the stage at TPUSA’s AmericaFest to thousands of cheering fans chanting his name. He even gets his own Kyle Rittenhouse-themed song to come out to. pic.twitter.com/PD7nkjpQ81
— AZ Right Wing Watch (@az_rww) December 21, 2021
Rittenhouse joined Turning Point USA’s founder Charlie Kirk and conservative commentators Jack Posobiec, Elijah Schaffer, and Drew Hernandez. He did not say much during the conversation but mentioned that the trial “helped me grow a lot, it’s helped me mature.”
He also said the crowd should “be on the lookout” for potential legal action against activist media outlets who deliberately and falsely smeared him.
But this is not the only instance in which Rittenhouse has been lionized as a conservative hero.
Last month, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) indicated he would like to hire Rittenhouse as an intern. “You know what, Kyle Rittenhouse would probably make a good congressional intern. We may reach out to him and see if he’d be interested in helping the country in additional ways,” Gaetz said during an interview with Newsmax.
Matt Gaetz wants to hire Kyle Rittenhouse as a congressional intern. pic.twitter.com/LvmXFFgt5v
— PatriotTakes 🇺🇸 (@patriottakes) November 18, 2021
Matthew Peterson, vice president at the Claremont Institute, posted a tweet saying, “[w]e need to make the Rittenhouse as hero movie.”
Later, he pushed back against the argument that Rittenhouse shouldn’t have been in Kenosha that night:
“He shouldn’t have been there? Brother, we all should have been there.”
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) seized on the moment to get a bit of attention and introduced a bill a few weeks ago to give Rittenhouse the Congressional Gold Medal. This award is typically bestowed by Congress and is the legislature’s “highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions by individuals or institutions,” according to Senate.gov.
Not everyone on the right is keen on the idea of giving Rittenhouse the celebrity treatment. Conservative commentator Tomi Lahren chimed in during an appearance on Fox News’ “Outnumbered.” She said:
“I believe we can put up Kyle Rittenhouse as someone who was innocent … but I think we should step back a little bit and maybe not treat him like he is a rock star or a celebrity.”
.@TomiLahren: "I believe we can put up Kyle Rittenhouse as someone who was innocent … but I think we should step back a little bit and maybe not treat him like he is a rock star or a celebrity." pic.twitter.com/uZP4Yk00aL
— Mediaite (@Mediaite) December 21, 2021
I’ll put it simply: There is absolutely no good reason to turn Kyle Rittenhouse into a celebrity.
For starters, Rittenhouse is not a hero. He was a person who was put in a terrifying situation and he defended himself just as many Americans do each year. Yes, his case was more high-profile because the left-wing activist media tried to use it to push their “everything is racist” narrative. But this does not qualify him for celebrity status or Congress’ highest honor.
Indeed, as many have pointed out, 17-year-old Rittenhouse should not have been in the area armed with an AR-15 in the first place. It was a boneheaded move on his part. Even he admits it was a mistake. During an appearance on the “You Are Here” podcast with Elijah Schaffer and Sydney Watson, he said it “probably wasn’t the best idea” for him to have gone to Kenosha, but that he “couldn’t change that.”
The young man also stated he is uncomfortable with being called a hero. He stated that it was the “God-given right to self-defense” that was on trial during the case.
Yes, leftist politicians and members of the activist media constantly lied about the incident in which Rittenhouse was forced to shoot three people, killing two. They did their level best to cast the 18-year-old as a ruthless, bloodthirsty, white supremacist who crossed state lines to viciously murder innocent, virtuous protesters fighting to protect the rights of black Americans.
But this does not mean Rittenhouse should be placed on a pedestal. This was a tragic situation in which a 17-year-old kid was forced to kill two people. It was a traumatic event in this young man’s life and he will likely be dealing with it for years. We all saw how he broke down on the stand when recounting the incident.
Adding flashing lights and fawning adoration to this situation is not the way to go. Yes, we should celebrate the outcome of the trial because Rittenhouse clearly defended himself. But celebrating the killing itself is not a good look – especially since even he acknowledges he shouldn’t have been there in the first place. In the end, this was not an act of heroism. It was an act of self-defense that should never have had to happen.