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Has the G.O.P. Become the Party of Rittenhouse?

Kyle RIttenhouse
Photo by Sean Krajacic-Pool/Getty Images
Tina Nguyen
November 22, 2021

Republicans took a victory lap on Friday after Kyle Rittenhouse, who fatally shot two people and injured a third amid a night of racial justice protests that devolved into mayhem in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year, was declared not guilty. Donald Trump offered his congratulations. Reps. Paul Gosar, Madison Cawthorn, and Matt Gaetz offered Rittenhouse congressional internships. Fox News, not missing a beat, announced that Tucker Carlson would be conducting an “exclusive interview” with Rittenhouse, airing Monday night, followed by a feature-length documentary for Fox Nation, the network’s streaming service, in December. If there was anything surprising about the reaction, it was only how seamlessly Republicans adopted the militant posturing of the good-guy-with-a-gun fantasy to which Rittenhouse aspired. “You have a right to defend yourself,” Cawthorn posted on Instagram. “Be armed, be dangerous.”