OUR SILO AND THEIRS: Goldberg describes a legitimate fear!


We describe the ongoing problem: In her new column for the New York Times, Michelle Goldberg describes a legitimate fear.

 As a general matter, we share that legitimate fear—a giant fear concerning the nation's future. Goldberg's column begins and ends as shown, with a nod, midway through, to "my friend, Chris Hayes:"

GOLDBERG (11/23/21): On Friday morning, after a night of insomnia fueled by worries about raising children in a collapsing society, I opened my eyes, started reading about efforts by Wisconsin Republicans to seize control of the state’s elections, then paused to let my tachycardiac heartbeat subside. Marinating in the news is part of my job, but doing so lately is a source of full-body horror...


Given the bleak trajectory of American politics, I worry about progressives retreating into private life to preserve their sanity, a retreat that will only hasten democracy’s decay. In order to get people to throw themselves into the fight to save this broken country, we need leaders who can convince them that they haven’t already lost.

We can't fault Goldberg for her insomnia as she "worries about raising [her] children in a collapsing society." We can't fault her for her fear concerning "democracy's decay."

We disagree with her on one point:

She seems to think that there is some way to save the nation's broken political culture. Based on what we're told by experts, we're inclined to suspect that the die has been cast.

According to those despondent scholars, why is there so little hope that we can emerge from our mess? Unanimously, they point to yesterday's column by Charles Blow, a column which, headline included, started off like this:

BLOW (11/22/21): Rittenhouse and the Right’s White Vigilante Heroes

Kyle Rittenhouse, the 18-year-old who shot and killed two men and wounded a third last year during protests of the police shooting of Jacob Blake, was found not guilty Friday of all charges by a Wisconsin jury.

One can argue about the particulars of the case, about the strength of the defense and the ham-handedness of the prosecution, about the outrageously unorthodox manner of the judge and the infantilizing of the defendant. But perhaps the most problematic aspect of this case was that it represented yet another data point in the long history of some parts of the right valorizing white vigilantes who use violence against people of color and their white allies.

Question: Is Kyle Rittenhouse reasonably described as a "vigilante?" We'd be inclined to say no.

At present, though, our flailing tribe is in love with that word, and with that thrilling assessment. 

The term "vigilante" appears in the text of Blow's column thirteen separate times, scattered through twelve different paragraphs. The term "vigilantism" appears two additional times.

The always vigilant "all-caps" columnist is plainly in love with the word. According to Blow, Rittenhouse is a vigilante, along with many others:

BLOW: This list is long, and doesn’t only include individuals, but also organizations and entire periods of American history. I am sure that many in the white Citizens’ Councils and the Ku Klux Klan also saw themselves as vigilantes.

Perhaps the most prolonged period of violent white vigilantism occurred in the decades following the Civil War, as lynchings surged.

Rittenhouse is a vigilante. But so was the Ku Klux Klan, and so were the mobs who conducted lynchings in the decades which followed the Civil War. 

As he keeps tossing his V-bomb around, Blow also directly refers to Rittenhouse as "a murderer," even though a jury has unanimously decided that he isn't. Increasingly, our brave liberal team has played it this way over the past dozen years.

Columns like Blow's have effects. This morning, the Times has published the letter shown below. It was written by "a retired lawyer"—a retired lawyer whose distinguished career has included a stint on the board of trustees of Stillman College, from which she graduated in 1971.

The lawyer's letter says this:

To the Editor:

Re “Rittenhouse and the Right’s White Vigilante Heroes,” by Charles M. Blow (column, Nov. 22):

The verdict makes me more fearful and more concerned about the state of the country. I grew up in Mississippi under Jim Crow laws. Never have I been so afraid of white people.

My fear is based partly on the degree to which those with positions of authority, such as Judge Bruce Schroeder, coddle vigilantes. The judge went to extraordinary lengths to protect Kyle Rittenhouse. The verdict will embolden other white vigilantes, especially when they learn of the benefits inuring to Mr. Rittenhouse: job offers and potential speaking engagements.

God help us if an unintended consequence of the coddling of vigilantes is that those with reasonable fear begin arming themselves and shooting at the first sign of perceived danger.

D-- C-- / Washington
The writer is a retired lawyer.

While Goldberg suffers insomnia, this 70-something retired lawyer has "never been so afraid of white people" as she is today. In fairness, she blames the Rittenhouse verdict itself, not Blow's use of The Word.

Should Rittenhouse be regarded as "a white vigilante?" Based upon the events of that night in Kenosha, we'd be inclined to say no. 

That said, the major news orgs we liberals peruse have tended to disappear many of the basic events involved in that unfortunate night. Instead, we get bombarded with Storyline, and with brain-damaged items of script.

By rule of law, we must be told that Rittenhouse "crossed state lines" to reach Kenosha that night. By now, description of Rittenhouse as a "vigilante" is our favorite tribal conduct.

Increasingly, the nation's warring tribes receive their competing versions of "news" and news events from competing silos. In our view, people who got their news from the Fox News silo have received much more information about Kenosha than we have Over Here.

Our tribe's silo is still full of the information which has been withheld from view. Others have been exposed to such information—and they loathe us as a result.

In our tribe, we haven't been told about the background underlying Rittenhouse's presence in Kenosha that night. We haven't been told about the person who chased him through the streets that night, precipitating the first of the unfortunate shootings our tribunes pretend to discuss.

Instead, we're offered mindless talking-points; they're repeated again and again. The Others know more about these events, and they loathe us as a result.

Goldberg seems to think our only hope involves the continued effort of progressives. We would be inclined to make this countervailing claim:

The worst right-wing forces pray that we will continue ahead on our current path.

Every time Charles Blow emotes, a Trump voter gets his wings. And sure enough, there Goldberg sits, joining the mandated tribal parade:

GOLDBERG: Already, the Republican Party winks at the violent intimidation of its political enemies. During the presidential campaign, a right-wing caravan tried to run a Biden campaign bus off the road, and Senator Marco Rubio cheered them on. School board members and public health offices have sought help from the Justice Department to deal with a barrage of threats and harassment. Three congressional Republicans have said they want to give an internship to the teenage vigilante Kyle Rittenhouse. One of those Republicans, Representative Paul Gosar, earlier tweeted an animated video of himself killing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and the overwhelming majority of his caucus stood by him.

Goldberg makes some excellent points in that passage, but she too must recite. Every time these people do that, more Trump voters gain their wings.

We'll admit to a certain bias! During Campaign 2016, the New York Times joined with a right-wing crackpot to publish an astonishingly long, utterly bogus "news report" about Hillary Clinton's troubling conduct concerning Uranium One. 

This was Uraniumgate! Career players all knew to clam up.

The fraudulence of the Times report was instantly obvious, but Goldberg went on TV that night with "my friend, Chris Hayes" to describe the report as "a bombshell" (full and complete total stop). 

On the brighter side, she ended up winning the prize—she got the columnist job at the New York Times! But when we think about conduct like that, we're back with Wilfred Owen, trudging behind the dying and dead from one of these hustlers' wars.

Goldberg ended up with the really good job. Today, she suffers insomnia, but remembers to drop the bomb. 

With a famous holiday approaching, we're going to wait till next week to detail the types of information about that "teen vigilante" which remain within our own tribe's bursting silo.

Regarding Kenosha and the trial, people who watch CNN or MSNBC have been given much less information than people who watch Fox News. The New York Times has also been strikingly uninformative about this complex affair. It's all about sticking together!

We assume Charles Blow is a good, decent person. It's also true that every time he opens his mouth, more Trump voters get their wings.

There's a great deal to learn from that fact. Our brutal history is deeply tragic. Eventually, we expect to go there.

This afternoon: Excerpts from last Friday's ReidOut


  1. tldr.
    However: "She seems to think that there is some way to save the nation's broken political culture. Based on what we're told by experts, we're inclined to suspect that the die has been cast."

    But, dear Bob, she suggested a perfectly sensible way to recover: "pwogwessives retreating into private life", leaving all the decent, normal, ordinary people alone.

    How could the experts living inside your head miss this brilliant solution, despite you emphasizing it?

  2. The problem with Fox news is that it not only presents information, but also misinformation and disinformation (to the extent that they are deliberately saying incorrect things). The viewer cannot typically separate these and winds up indoctrinated instead of informed.

    The New York Times does the same and readers have the same dilemma. They must carefully evaluate what they read there. Somerby wishes to claim that the New York Times is a leftist publication, part of liberal media. It is not and that is easy to demonstrate using examples, like the one about Hillary (which is only one of many smears against her during her campaign). Cable News is only left leaning depending on the host and show a viewer chooses to watch. It is not an organ of the left, as Fox is of the right.

    Somerby also spreads misinformation and disinformation here. One example is his repeated characterization of the media as liberal, when it is demonstrably not. Another is his lie that presenting a liberal perspective will push people to become Trump supporters. That is nonsense. And his recent lie that Fox presents better information than MSNBC or other cable news. There have been empirical studies showing that this is not true at all:





    But there is evidence that watching Fox does change viewer politics:


    So, a strategy of the right is clearly to shift viewers to Fox so that its propaganda efforts can influence future elections, and this has been Somerby's cause here lately. He tries to convince his readers that they are receiving bad information at MSNBC, especially on liberal shows such as Maddow's, and that Fox is providing better info in the form of different facts. Somerby never challenges the disinformation presented there, but he has recently been lauding both Hannity and Carlson.

    We would be fools to take Somerby's efforts here at face value. He is shilling for the right, no matter how often he calls himself a liberal or refers to us liberals. And the right is now trying to present false info about the Waukesha tragedy, pretending that Brooks is a BLM member when there is no tie other than the kind of casual support many black people and liberals have for BLM. It isn't as if Brooks were seen drinking with BLM after his crimes, as Rittenhouse was with the Proud Boys. It isn't as if a BLM militia posted a call to arms, the way the alt-right did to confused boys like Rittenhouse, urging him to come to Kenosha with his gun. But the right is working hard to make it seem that way, aided by Russian and Eastern European disinformation on social media, which has not diminished.

    "Andy Ngo, the right-wing provocateur/journalist -- many of you would say I should put "journalist" in scare quotes -- has several posts on Twitter about Darrell Brooks, the man accused of running people over at the Waukesha holiday parade on Sunday. Many of Ngo's posts are attempts to smear Black Lives Matter because Brooks posted favorable messages about BLM."


    This is the sort of "better information" viewers will find on Fox, at Somerby's urging.

  3. "Question: Is Kyle Rittenhouse reasonably described as a "vigilante?" We'd be inclined to say no."

    Somerby zeroes in on a trivial detail, a single word being used that he considers inappropriate. Somerby doesn't bother telling us what the word means:

    "vigilante: a member of a self-appointed group of citizens who undertake law enforcement in their community without legal authority, typically because the legal agencies are thought to be inadequate"

    This seems to exactly describe what Rittenhouse thought he was doing when he took a gun to protect small businesses in Kenosha, at the behest of militias requesting people to do so on the internet. His later story about being a medic is inconsistent with his lack of medical training, his lack of supplies, his failure to administer aid to anyone at the riot, including those he himself shot, and his discussions with his friends about the incident. Medics don't go around shooting mentally ill people.

  4. Somerby says: "We haven't been told about the person who chased him through the streets that night,"

    The first man that Rittenhouse shot did not "chase him through the streets." He was yelling, throwing innocuous items and he apparently lunged at Rittenhouse. He was clearly mentally ill, which may be scary, but he was also unarmed.

    Notice how different "chased him through the streets" sounds compared to "behaved bizarrely, yelled and threw stuff, lunging at him".

    Somerby is putting his thumb on the scales here with disinformaton, not information which he claims has been "withheld" from us. Somerby is choosing the words he prefers, just as surely as those he disagrees with. The question is what happened. That is shown on the videos presented during the trial. Those videos don't fit Somerby's account of things.

    And yes, Antioch is across state lines from Kenosha, so Rittenhouse definitely crossed a state line to get there. He does have relatives in Kenosha, but he went to see friends who gave him an AR-15, which is not just any kind of gun. Somerby doesn't care about that. He hides it, preferring to say that Rittenhouse didn't take a gun across state lines, as if that made what he did any less of a crime.

    But look how hard Somerby is working to discredit reporting about Rittenhouse by Blow (and others in the past several days)! Somerby seems to think that attacking trivialities will undo the larger account of what happened, what Rittenhouse did and what it means.

    The left won't be fooled, but low information voters might be. These are the people Somerby hopes to attract to Fox so that their disinformation machine can do its job in time for the next election.

    1. " The first man that Rittenhouse shot did not "chase him through the streets." He was yelling, throwing innocuous items and he apparently lunged at Rittenhouse. He was clearly mentally ill, which may be scary, but he was also unarmed. "

      The " first man " DID chase Rittenhouse . And that " clearly mentally ill" man may have been unarmed but what do you think he would have done if he had wrestled the gun from Rittenhouse ?

      " Rosenbaum, the first person Rittenhouse shot, had acted belligerently throughout the night, according to video evidence and witness testimony. Later, he chased Rittenhouse through a used-car lot. Rittenhouse and another witness both testified that Rosenbaum had reached for Rittenhouse's gun. "


      " And yes, Antioch is across state lines from Kenosha, so Rittenhouse definitely crossed a state line to get there. "

      This is meaningless. Yet the left media made a point of stating this numerous times as if it was somehow nefarious. That's Somerby's point.

      " The left won't be fooled, but low information voters might be. "

      The left are fools who distort the truth to fool low info voters. The truth is Rittenhouse is a good kid with no record yet the left smear him with innuendo and lies while Rosenbaum was a pedophile who raped 5 kids aged 9-12 .

      " Rosenbaum was a registered sex offender who was out on bond for a domestic abuse battery accusation and was caught on video acting aggressively earlier that night. Huber was a felon convicted in a strangulation case who was recently accused of domestic abuse. Grosskreutz was convicted of a crime for use of a firearm while intoxicated and was armed with a handgun when shot (he testified in court that he carried it concealed despite having an expired permit; Wisconsin law requires a valid permit to carry a weapon concealed). "


      Why does the left love pedos so much? Rosenbaum should go to hell!!!

  5. Somerby mentions Goldberg's rundown of the three Republicans who are offering Rittenhouse an internship. He doesn't mention that Rittenhouse is being goaded into suing President Biden over ads he claims defamed him. Somerby doesn't mention that this effort is being planned to occur just about the time of the midterms, to damage Biden's influence and whip up right wing voters. Rittenhouse is being used, but so is the implicit call to violence inherent in his actions. In anticipation of this suit, lawyers have Rittenhouse issuing a public statement in support of BLM, claiming that he is not a bigot. This is a highly cynical act that is trying to leverage his acquittal into right-wing propaganda.

    Somerby of course never mentions this. He is still pretending that Democrats don't have all the facts or they might recognize Rittenhouse's innocence, despite his having killed two unarmed men and disabled someone trying to stop his shooting spree.

    1. I love Rittenhouse!

    2. Lots of people loved Charles Manson too. Some of them went to jail for life, in his place, they loved him so much! Be careful who you love.

  6. Mr. Grosskreutz, who Rittenhouse shot, was armed with a gun. Was Grosskreutz a "vigilante"? No, because he's on the left.

    1. He also crossed state lines (!) from Antioch, and his gun pun permit was expired...

    2. Typo. No 'pun' intended.

    3. Apologies I fell for a garbage tweet without initially fact checking. He came from Milwaukee which is not across state lines, but about two times as far away as Antioch.

    4. Grosskreutz was not a vigilante because his stated purpose was to volunteer at the protest as a medic. The stated purpose for the Rittenhouse's presence there was to "protect" businesses from the rioters.

    5. Well, color me skeptical about both their stated purposes.

      Grosskreutz has been affiliated with the People’s Revolution protest group, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. That group was involved in the physical attack of a police officer named Joseph Mensah at his girlfriend’s home in Wauwatosa, leading to felony charges, but Grosskreutz was not alleged to be at that scene.

      He was carrying an illegal, loaded handgun.

      Rittenhouse was also acting as a "medic" that night, although he was not a certified EMT at age 17. He did work as a lifeguard.

      So... there are several definitions of vigilante, but I think the one most people think of is someone that actively seeks to kill criminals, a la Charles Bronson / Death Wish.

      The whole things a mess anyway, I don't see much honest discussion of it in the media. But in online forums, or real life - the discussions have been much more informed and productive. So time for everyone to tune out from the so-called "News".

    6. Grosskeutz was pretty clearly a victim of Rittenhouse.

      People are not vigilantes because they have guns. They are vigilantes because they have the intent to function as officials without authority.

    7. Grosskeutz was there in order to be a medic, but he had a gun in order to protect himself and others too, based upon his own actions

      Rittenhouse did the same.

      Virtually every Democratic pol and all the MSM talking heads and journalists on Twitter (which means all of them) are tweeting the words “vigilante” and “vigilantism” nonstop.

      Their ability to seize a narrative and coalesce around it is unbelievable. It is breathtaking.

      It is astonishing.

    8. Grosskreutz actually did treat 10 persons that night before his arm was blown off by young Florence Nightingale. If he wanted to he could have shot pigface from a distance instead of approaching him from the front with his arms raised. The idiot magat judge has now set a precedent allowing underage kids to open carry an assault rifle. Bravo.

    9. "there are several definitions of vigilante, but I think the one most people think of is someone that actively seeks to kill criminals, a la Charles Bronson / Death Wish."

      An important component of the Death Wish story is that the authorities fail to provide protection and justice. This is when them (well: some of them) tend to take the law into their own hands.

      And, under the circumstances, who would blame them? Why didn't the police and/or national guard stop the riots last year and punish the thugs participating in them? Naturally, Bronson's character attract sympathy.

      Obviously, 'defund the police' = vigilante justice. That's just the law of nature. Nature abhors a vacuum, as Bob's famous philosopher observed.

    10. Again, I and anon@1:36, are pointing the stated purpose for their presence at the protests was fundamentally different. Rittenhouse was their to "protect" property, or deter crime, which aligns with the moniker of vigilante. He took it upon himself to be deputized and act as law enforcement. This is not something that we should have in our society.
      This is not, by the way, to say that I disagree with the verdict.

    11. As far as "Death Wish" franchise, the movie makes a concerted effort to show that a violent physical crime was being committed before Bronson's character intercedes. There's a similarity in the sense that both the Bronson's character and Rittenhouse go looking for situations where criminal activity may take place.
      However, consider this: if Rittenhouse had witnessed an act of vandalism, say, setting a car on fire or breaking a shop window, and killed the person, he'd be found guilty of murder. Ironically, because he turned out to be such a lighting rod and his mere presence was met with hostility, he was able to claim self-defense.

    12. Good post Ilya, that is definitely ironic.

      And I like how you said you don't necessarily disagree with the verdict. That's a good distinction to make then to ask whether justice was served, they are not the same question because our laws are imperfect.

    13. Ilya, GrossKreutz’ stated his purpose to the authorities after he had pulled a gun.

      What we know is that he was packing because he knew if something happened to him or to someone else he couldn’t get help by dialing 911. He chased Rittenhouse with a gun for the same reason.

      Rittenhouse was out there to present a show of force at the car lot because 911 wouldn’t have helped them either. He said that he put out some fires while there and acted as a medic.

      It’s beyond ridiculous in a scenario where people are destroying things and hurting others and getting hurt, to start making quibbles about who was really taking the law into their own hands. It’s horrifying for the media to present a defense of self, others, and property as a dire threat to civilization, but burning stuff down and fighting in the streets is understandable “unrest” due to injustices.

      I expect that sort of reasoning on blog boards, it’s inexplicable and “deplorable” when it comes from our best and brightest.

    14. Except Rittenhouse was no medic.

    15. No, but he was a "Florence Nightingale" and a "pigface", and let off by a "Maga judge" right?

      Feel free to let that repressed sexism and bigotry flow... let your true light shine! It's a nice break from projecting it on others isn't it?

    16. pigface is derogatory, but not Florence Nightingale nor MAGA (it is what Trump supporters call themselves). I doubt any pigs were upset by the reference.

      I repeat that Rittenhouse had CPR training to be a lifeguard, but was not an EMT and hadn't started any nursing program. He did not have a GED at that point and wasn't registered in any classes at all. He had been a high school dropout for 3 years (at age 17!). And, there is no evidence he had helped anyone at the riot, nor did he have supplies to do so. Representing himself as a medic is pure invention. And that is why the sarcasm about his motives for being there.

    17. Rittenhouse is a psychopath, and yet a typical right winger. He clearly was living out his (and his cohort) fantasy. You can see by the drone footage and the FBI footage that Rittenhouse had chased Rosenbaum and taunted him (sound familiar? same m.o. as the right wing commenters here) prompting Rosenbaum to throw a plastic bag in Rittenhouse's general direction and run after him. Then Rittenhouse casually pivots around and shoots Rosenbaum dead, and gallops away. The galloping is interesting because it indicates a very odd playfulness on Rittenhouse's part, he seemed enlivened by the act of killing someone.

      Some right wingers call Rittenhouse a vigilante, most right wingers call him a hero, but none honestly assess this troubled soul. Y'all right wingers enjoy this kind of conflict, revel in this miscarriage of justice because you all are sick, black souls at your core, with no moral compass, just wounds you externalize onto everyone else.

    18. Cecilia: Grosskreutz wore a vest identifying him as a medic, I believe. Secondly, he raised his gun after witnessing Rittenhouse shooting two people. Had Grosskreutz shot Rittenhouse, he probably would've gotten off on self-defense. That's the absurdity of this situation: the person who shoots and kills the greatest number of people gets to skate on self-defense, since dead men tell no tales.

      He had not business being there to protect anything no one asked him. It is unfortunate that property was damaged, but that's for the authorities to figure out how to deal with the situation. Everyone can be irked at Evers for not calling up the National Guard sooner.

    19. Cecelia,
      You know as well as I, that if Rittenhouse wanted to protect businesses from being looted, he would have brought his gun to a private equity firm.

  7. Florence Nightingale was used as an insult. Like picking a woman intentionally for extra effect. That's sexism.

    You lumped in the judge as a Trump supporter because he played 'God Bless the USA'. That's bigotry.

    Yes these aren't obvious but my radar is starting to tune to that right frequency so to speak.

  8. "We assume Charles Blow is a good, decent person. It's also true that every time he opens his mouth, more Trump voters get their wings."

    Blow doesn't convince anyone to vote for Trump who wasn't already going to do so. This is one of Somerby's favorite lies.

    1. I would vote for Rittenhouse over Hillary Clinton six Days on Sunday and twice every other day.

    2. Then you would deserve what you got.

    3. Rittenhouse came out in an interview supporting black lives matter and against prosecutorial malfeasance against the downtrodden.

      That's more than the cackling pants-suited warmongress can say.

    4. Rittenhouse is laying the foundation for a lawsuit against Biden, egged on by Republican operatives. You cannot trust anything that comes out of Rittenhouse's mouth since the adults got hold of him.

    5. You better be ready to begin to refer to him as Senator Rittenhouse.

    6. 5:25,
      Thanks. I didn't realize Rittenhouse hated America and loved CRT so much.

    7. Best part of being threatened to be sued by a Right-winger, is knowing how "Discovery" works.

  9. "But when we think about conduct like that, we're back with Wilfred Owen, trudging behind the dying and dead from one of these hustlers' wars."

    There is an ugliness to these references Somerby keeps making to Wilfred Owens and his poems. The dying men described in them are not "trudging" anywhere. They are sitting dyings with their guts in their hands.

    Somerby's lack of respect for the loss of life during war is disgusting. It parallels his lack of respect for those who were shot by Rittenhouse.

    If this is a shooting war, it is because the right is making it so. It is unthinkable to joke about this. Wilfred Owens was opposing war. Somerby should take a lesson from him and oppose this one, not stoke it with his callous complaints about those who report on it.

  10. “Question: Is Kyle Rittenhouse reasonably described as a "vigilante?" We'd be inclined to say no.”

    Being inclined to say no isn’t the same thing as simply saying no.

    And Blow is inclined to say yes.

    Thus, there seems to be a grey area here, and Somerby’s disagreement with Blow seems to be a matter of opinion.

    But then he says that “Every time Charles Blow emotes, a Trump voter gets his wings.” In other words, when Blow expresses an opinion they don’t like, a new Trump voter is born (or something).

    He seems to be saying that liberals shouldn’t hold opinions that Trump voters don’t like, even if those opinions can be justified by certain facts, which Somerby is inclined to reject.