It’s not news to anyone who’s been paying attention that most of the mainstream media is trying to make the Kyle Rittenhouse trial a referendum on racism and white privilege, even though the trial is over a white teenager shooting three white men and killing two of them. The thing is that Rittenhouse was on the wrong side of the rioting that was going on in Kenosha; plenty have questioned why he was there, but they also seem to just assume that rioters and arsonists had every reason to be out there doing what they were doing because it was in the name of Black Lives Matter.

One take on race we hadn’t yet seen comes to us from Vox, where Jamil Smith writes on Rittenhouse’s “white tears.” A lot of people have commented on the tears (Merriam-Wittenhouse trolled Rittenhouse by tweeting the definition of “crocodile tears” right after). But Smith writes specifically about the privilege of white tears.

Rittenhouse “resorted to a tried-and-true strategy for white men,” Smith writes:

Whether or not the crying was real, it was a performance, and it had an audience. Like many white men accused of violent crimes and misconduct before him, Rittenhouse appealed with his tears not merely to the 12 fellow citizens who will decide his fate, but also to certain white members of the American public who too often see emotion like that and imagine only the faces of their sons — not any born to mothers who look like mine.

There is evidence that Rittenhouse conspicuously aligned himself with the “blue lives matter” crowd, so it’s worth considering his sobbing within the context of the toxic and limited view of manhood that remains so popular in America, particularly among the modern political right. Some compared Rittenhouse to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s reaction when questioned during his confirmation hearings about Christine Blasey Ford’s credible allegations of sexual assault. Wednesday’s display from Rittenhouse bore some similarities to Kavanaugh’s sanctimonious anger, which he often dotted with cracks in his voice. As I wrote at the time, the future Supreme Court justice took advantage of the leeway that his gender and privilege affords to him, and Rittenhouse did the same.

“The self-styled militia patrolling the city that night were, by several accounts, mostly white men, yet another example of the unequally enforced protections of the Second Amendment,” he adds.

The only place to go is the live video stream of the trial itself.


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