As I may have mentioned, I’m from Wisconsin.
I’ve written before about growing up Latino in an overwhelmingly white state, and living in the most segregated city in America, and attending the flagship university where less than 0.5 % of the student body was Hispanic.
But one thing I never wrote about was Kenosha. And the reason was simple: It’s a boring suburb where nothing interesting ever happens.
As many commentators have pointed out, Kenosha is where a Black man can get shot seven times in the back while a White guy waving an AR-15, who had just killed multiple people, will barely get noticed.
And here I should mention that in my most recent novel, I wrote a scene in which the police tackle an unarmed Latino. Those same cops ignore a nearby white person who is juggling multiple handguns. In that scene, I was going for black comedy mixed with social satire. But clearly, the real world is even more farcical than anything I could imagine.
In any case, after the unrest in Kenosha, our oblivious, bloviating president did his part, flying in to order up fraudulent photo-ops, shout over Black leaders, and express sympathy for a homicidal teenager. Really, do you expect anything else from “a sociopathic narcissist running on a platform of fear, intolerance, and authoritarian, conspiratorial doublespeak” at this point in his presidency? I know I certainly don’t.
And speaking of gun-toting, bloodthirsty teenagers, please note that many right-wingers have done more than excuse one of their brethren for the slight transgression of shooting unarmed people. They have actively celebrated him. A Christian website is raising funds for the shooter’s defense, because after all, there’s nothing more Christian than murdering someone in the street.
Now, I’m tempted to pick on my home state for becoming the newest battleground—both literal and figurative—in the ongoing war of right-wing extremism against, well, everybody else. Believe me, I glance at my Facebook feed—which always contains posts from guys I went to high school with—and I wonder, “You were sane once upon a time, so when did you become a terrified, angry suburban apologist for racism and neo-fascism?” Is it a law that growing up White and male in Milwaukee means that you will eventually clamor for the violent demise of liberals?
But in truth, what happened in Kenosha is happening all across America. Indeed, it has been going on, more or less, for centuries. For example, “the narrative that dangerous Black people are causing violence that White men must suppress for the good of the community serves Trump’s election narrative, but it is a trope right out of Reconstruction.”
However, this trend has accelerated and become more visible in recent years because “White fear has become the unalloyed rallying cry” of Trump’s followers, and the GOP has morphed into nothing more than a national “White grievance party.”
So now add in America’s love—fetishization, actually—of guns. And soon, we have the realization of the “long-held fantasy of right-wing militia groups,” which is a “scenario in which they can put their gun collections to use by showing up, unbidden, to ‘protect’ businesses that in many cases aren’t theirs and don’t want that service.”
Armed thugs roaming the streets should alarm Americans. But many of us enthusiastically cheer for these “self-anointed, weapons-bearing so-called enforcers of order” who have no legal authority and “very little stopping them.”
By the way, all 50 states have legal provisions prohibiting private militias from operating outside of governmental authority, “but the statutes are largely unenforced.”
So much for law and order.