TUESDAY, JANUARY 11, 2022
But also, childhood's end: We were struck by an accurate statement in today's New York Times—but also, by the latest possible evidence of childhood's (unfortunate) end.
We'll start with the accurate statement.
The analysts rushed the accurate statement to us even as we continued to slumber. We were intrigued by the headline on the news report in question:
Friend Who Bought Kyle Rittenhouse’s Gun Gets Reduced Charges
As it turns out, the young man who purchased a rifle for his 17-year-old friend won't be going to prison. Mainly, though, we were struck by an accurate statement in this part of the report:
BOSMAN (1/11/22): During Mr. Rittenhouse’s trial, Mr. Black told the court that he bought the gun on a trip with Mr. Rittenhouse to northern Wisconsin, where Mr. Black’s family owned a hunting property, and stored it at his stepfather’s house in Kenosha for Mr. Rittenhouse. He said that on the day of the shooting in August 2020, as protests were unfolding in Kenosha, he and Mr. Rittenhouse brought their guns from Mr. Black’s stepfather’s house and drove downtown, where they cleaned graffiti and, at night, guarded used-car lots.
Say what? Rittenhouse was "guarding used car lots" on the unfortunate night in question? We congratulate the Times' Julie Bosman for speaking with such specificity—for making an accurate statement.
(Bosman attributes these statements to Rittenhouse's friend, but these statements are not in dispute.)
For the record, the Times has published such accurate statements in the past. That said, within the punditry of our liberal tribe, it has been more common to say that Rittenhouse "crossed state lines" in order to "take his gun to a protest," where he cast himself in the role of a "vigilante."
What did Rittenhouse actually do that day and that night? Given the way we liberals tend to behave, we think it's worth recalling:
As Bosman notes, he spent several hours that afternoon scrubbing graffiti off a Kenosha school. That evening, he helped guard a trio of used car lots, one of which had been subjected to extensive arson the night before.
(His lifeguard job was in Kenosha. His father, and several other relatives, lived there.)
Around midnight, Rittenhouse attempted to walk four blocks from one of the used car lots to another. He was carrying a fire extinguisher as he did. He had received a phone call asking him to help extinguish some newly-set fires at the second lot.
As he attempted to walk those four blocks, he was suddenly chased by Joseph Rosenbaum, a tragic figure who had been setting fires in the streets that night and who, earlier that evening, had apparently threatened to kill Rittenhouse and others.
Earlier that day, Rosenbaum had been released from a hospital where he had been receiving treatment for serious mental health issues. He was unable to join his girlfriend upon his release because she'd been granted a protective warrant barring contact between them "after a fight in which he knocked her down and bloodied her mouth."
As we'll describe at some point this week, Rosenbaum had suffered terrible sexual abuse as a child. Later, he had visited terrible sexual abuse upon five children, for which he'd spent most of his adult life in prison.
Now he was chasing Rittenhouse through the streets as Rittenhouse carried that fire extinguisher. Unless you watch our tribe's "cable news," in which case you can see a prominent and trusted professor saying that Rittenhouse had been pursuing him!
In these and similar ways, our own lost tribe has created a series of ugly, novelized morality tales over the course of the past dozen years. Disgracefully, we keep trying to get people thrown in jail on the basis of our fabulized narratives.
In these ways, our own tribe has shown the limits of human capability and morality at such times as these. The other tribe has also been wildly misfiring, in ways our own tribe widely discusses.
We were struck by Bosman's accurate statement because we've read and heard so many other statements which basically aren't. We keep hearing that Rittenhouse "crossed state lines" to "attend a protest," where he played the role of a "vigilante."
Members of our own lost tribe continue to make these claims in comment sections. Almost surely, they make these statements because they believe that the statements are accurate.
The other tribe is deeply invested in a separate array of misstatements at this point in time. Our tribe is also deeply invested, though our tribe's fanciful tribal tales carry a different hue.
Are we the humans possibly reaching a point called "childhood's end?" Are we reaching a place where our limited capabilities no longer allow us to function even minimally within the boundaries of "the American experiment?"
Only time will tell! But even as The Others keep insisting that Donald J. Trump won the election, our own infallible liberal tribe spills with semi-delusional ideation like that outlined below.
We quote a second report in this morning's Times. That news report starts like this:
CORASANITI AND EPSTEIN (1/11/22): When President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris deliver major speeches on voting rights on Tuesday in Atlanta, there will be notable absences in the crowd.
[S]everal leading voting rights and civil rights groups are pointedly skipping the speech, protesting what they denounced as months of frustrating inaction by the White House—which they said showed that Mr. Biden did not view Republican attacks on voting rights with sufficient urgency.
“We do not need any more speeches, we don’t need any more platitudes,” said James Woodall, former president of the N.A.A.C.P. of Georgia. “We don’t need any more photo ops. We need action, and that actually is in the form of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, as well as the Freedom to Vote Act—and we need that immediately.”
We assume that Woodall is a good, decent person. Unfortunately, while The Others seem to think that Donald J. Trump won the last election, our own tribe often seems to think that President Biden won a working majority in the United States Senate.
As everyone knows, he didn't! Indeed, fifty Senate seats out of a hundred is only a technical majority, to the extent that it's a majority at all.
It doesn't come close to the sixty votes you need to get most measures passed. It ceases to be any sort of majority if even one of those fifty senators refuses to vote in the way Biden might prefer.
Can anybody here play this game? Casey Stengel once famously posed that question.
It seems to us that the answer may be no. As our failing society nears an experiment's end, we'll focus this week on our own tribe's recent behavior, as well as on the cockeyed work of Others.
Our own leadership is very soft. That's journalists and academics alike.
What makes us say such a thing? On Sunday, we stumbled upon the perfect answer—we read the New York Times!
We read the essays in the Sunday Review. We reviewed the responses by the two focus groups the Times had tried to conduct.
Is the American experiment nearing an end? Only time will tell, of course, but the skill levels of both major tribes are extremely poor at this time, and the mutual loathing is general.
Tomorrow: "Within hours, the three men and the teenager who shot them were assigned roles in the country’s churning partisan drama."