Monday marked 58 years since President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas. One shot in the back, one in the head. A stop for a man who could become a great, progressive president.
The result is a civilian arms race. The right to arms has become a winning issue for the right
One and a half days later, the alleged perpetrator, Lee Harvey Oswald, was also shot and killed. By nightclub owner and mafia accomplice Jack Ruby. President Lyndon B. Johnson and the FBI wanted to isolate Oswald, and very quickly he was identified as a lone killer. Long before any investigation was concluded. Anything else would create big waves, nationally and internationally, which could quickly become dangerous.
The official story is that Oswald shot and killed the world’s most powerful man because he wanted to and saw the opportunity. Ruby is also said to have acted on his own. Also it neat. No groups, organizations or nations were behind the world’s most famous killings. John F. Kennedy’s death did not have to be politicized.
The United States will never finish the murder, and it illustrates all too well an American core problem: a long history of and a penchant for violence. The 1960s were dominated by violence as a political instrument. The civil rights struggle. Vietnam. Two dead Kennedys, one Martin Luther King, Malcolm X. In 1972, the presidential candidate George Wallace barely survived an assassination attempt. Now it smells dangerous again. Politics triggers violence, and violence becomes politics.
On Monday, we woke up to reports that a car had run into a crowd in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Six people were killed. Car attacks are well known in the United States. It was easy to link the incident to the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse, who two days earlier had been able to leave the courtroom in Kenosha, an hour’s drive away, as a free man.
Rittenhouse was 17 years old when he took his semi-automatic rifle with him last year to patrol the streets, to protect people and property during a demonstration for black rights. As a volunteer militia, with the consent of the police, he could quite legally walk around with an AR-15, a assault rifle. A military assault weapon. Two protesters were killed by Rittenhouse and one had his arm shot off. On Friday, he was acquitted of all charges of premeditated murder and attempted murder. The jury thought he had shot and killed in self-defense.
It is very possible true. During the trial, it emerged that he had been threatened with a weapon and persecuted. But what if there had been no weapons there? What if Rittenhouse had not been armed, would he still pose a potential threat or be a provocation? We will never get the answer. But it is quite obvious that no one would have been killed that night in Kenosha, if no one had had a weapon. This is a logic few are willing to listen to in the United States.
While the American left sees Rittenhouse as a representative of the white power movement, he has become a hero and a symbol of the American right. President Donald Trump has hailed him and huge sums of money were raised to provide the best lawyers. The trial became a battleground for the two fronts of American politics. The killings may not have been premeditated. Most likely he was a confused boy, influenced by the time he lived in and by the American mentality. The trial is the first in ten years where the right to carry – and if necessary use – weapons has been central. This right has strengthened in recent decades. It is a development that is marching at an uncomfortably precise pace with all the various divisions that are taking place at the same time now in the United States.
Kyle Rittenhouse could thus, with the acceptance of society at large, take an assault weapon with him to a protest march, kill two and assert self-defense. It was difficult, obviously impossible, for a prosecutor to prove that the 17-year-old was not afraid. That he did not act in defense of his own life. The court ruling is a confirmation of the right to shoot to kill, and will lower the list to resort to lethal force.
The verdict is a great victory for the America of paranoia. While in the past in most states there were restrictions on carrying weapons, today there are bans in only six states. In more than 30 states, it is allowed to carry weapons openly on the streets without special permission. No one wants to give up the right to their own security, even if this creates the insecurity of others. Although the Second Amendment to the Constitution on the right to arms is in direct opposition to the first, the right to assemble and express oneself. Can you really do it freely, if your opponents are armed? The coil is toxic. The result is a civilian arms race. The right to arms has become a winning issue for the right. Liberal peoples and states like California and New York are left with outstretched arms, wondering how more weapons, and more liberal legislation, are the way forward.
It offers gloomy prospects in a country where contradictions grow in all dimensions, and identities related to race, ideology, religion and geography increase and are actively stimulated through social media and an increasingly two-part media reality. Four out of five Americans feel that there is too little trust between them. And only one in six expresses confidence in the country’s leadership. Earlier this week, the United States for the first time defined as a democracy in decline. Civil rights related to elections are under pressure, and Trump’s rejection of the election result is dramatically new in the United States.
The American pressure cooker is on full blast. “US shows all signs of being a country on the road to political violence”, wrote the American researcher Rachel Kleinfeld a year ago in the Washington Post. On the way back to the 1960s. The Kenosha ruling will have a huge impact on the social acceptance of carrying weapons in streets, squares and at meetings. Many want the opportunity and motive to act.
Isn’t it just a matter of time before shots will again hit the US political elite? The consequences will be worse to control than after the shots in Dallas. No one today will believe in a lone shooter.