Race is not central to Rittenhouse case — but the media shout it anyway

Even before the jury in his murder trial returns a verdict, Kyle Rittenhouse is guilty, according to Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesMcCarthy faces headaches from far-right House GOP Pelosi: Democrats can't allow 'indecent' Boebert comments to stand With Build Back Better, Dems aim to correct messaging missteps MORE (D-N.Y.):



The judge presiding over the trial is rooting for Rittenhouse, according to former Obama strategist and political consultant David AxelrodDavid AxelrodVoters need to feel the benefit, not just hear the message Race is not central to Rittenhouse case — but the media shout it anyway David Axelrod calls Rittenhouse judge 'defense attorney on the bench' MORE:  


Oh, and the judge is also a racist, according to media reports: 



Rittenhouse himself cried "white crocodile tears” during the trial, according to MSNBC’s Joy Reid: 


And, Reid noted, his white male tears were just like those of Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughWhat's that you smell in the Supreme Court? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden talks up bright side beneath omicron's cloud Overnight Health Care — Presented by March of Dimes — Supreme Court weighs abortion restrictions MORE during his confirmation hearing:


And Rittenhouse is actually a white supremacist, per then-presidential candidate and now President Joe BidenJoe BidenManchin to vote to nix Biden's vaccine mandate for larger businesses Congress averts shutdown after vaccine mandate fight Senate cuts deal to clear government funding bill MORE



It is disturbing that some in the media and in politics – in a case involving a white guy shooting three other white guys – are playing the race card from the bottom of the deck. 

But while disturbing, it's also not surprising to see race injected in this way, particularly when considering the fairly recent precedents in Virginia. 

In the commonwealth, education is what drove little-known Republican Glenn YoungkinGlenn YoungkinPolitics must accept the reality of multiracial America and disavow racial backlash To empower parents, reinvent schools Pollster says he would tell Democrats running in 2022 that 'we have a problem' MORE to an improbable victory over Clinton loyalist and former Democratic governor Terry McAullife. The race began to turn in favor of Youngkin when McAuliffe declared that parents should not "be telling schools what they should teach." 



That statement quickly awoke the momma bears in Virginia's northern suburbs, which were owned by Joe Biden in 2020 on his way to a 10-point victory in the state. Youngkin went on to capture the suburbs based in part on this issue, which could serve as a preview of the red tsunami expected in the 2022 midterms. 




In the process, Democrats are now in danger of being identified as the anti-parent party. But it went further than just siding with teacher unions when it came to media coverage; some media types couldn't resist injecting race into their explanations of why Youngkin won in a blue state — despite the other big winner there, Republican lieutenant governor-elect Winsome Sears, who became the first Black woman to prevail in a statewide contest there. 



"Here they want white supremacy by ventriloquist effect,” MSNBC's Michael Eric Dyson said of Sears earlier this month. “There is a black mouth moving but a white idea running on the runway of the tongue of a figure who justifies and legitimates the white supremacist practices.” 

And never mind that Virginia’s next attorney general is Latino, or that Youngkin may have captured more than 50 percent of the Latino vote.  

But, yeah, it was closet KKK members who elected a white businessman, a Black lieutenant governor and a Latino AG. 

You can't make this stuff up. 

Back to Kenosha: Maybe, just maybe, the story is that eyewitnesses testified during the trial there that Rittenhouse – certainly no hero – was acting in self-defense. Maybe media figures – and the president – should stop taking sides in declaring that defendants such as Rittenhouse are racist or guilty until proven innocent. 

The word "racist" itself has lost much of its impact, after holding such weight for so long. 

The Kyle Rittenhouse trial is a complex one. Was it self-defense? Did Rittenhouse provoke the incident by injecting himself into a dangerous riot by bringing a large gun? Like everything else, the country is divided on these issues. 

Race is not central to the Rittenhouse case. But the media are shouting it anyway. Again. 

Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist for The Hill.