This weekend, while appearing on "Life, Liberty & Levin," I butchered a famous quote by Voltaire, the 18th-century French philosopher and culture critic.
I was using Voltaire to explain 21st-century America. The prolific writer said, "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities."
I applied the quote to the overreaction to the Capitol riot on Jan. 6. Corporate media, social media, and many of our lawmakers have absurdly defined the mostly peaceful riot as an "insurrection" or the most dangerous attack on American democracy since Pearl Harbor. The absurd analogy has justified the atrocity of treating the rioters as domestic terrorists.
On Saturday, I gave a speech in West Palm Beach, Florida. I used Voltaire again. I talked about the 1965 Moynihan Report. It was written by sociologist Daniel Patrick Moynihan, assistant secretary of labor in the Johnson administration. The Moynihan Report called for investment in the black family in general and investment in black men in particular. Corporate media framed Moynihan and the report as racist. President Lyndon Johnson pulled his support of Moynihan's suggested initiatives and implemented his Great Society welfare agenda.
It was absurd to frame Moynihan's call for investment in the black family as racist. I told my Florida audience that 56 years later, as 75% of black children are born into fatherless homes, we are living with the atrocity of the absurd smearing of Moynihan.
Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.
This week, Kenosha, Wisconsin, for the second time in 15 months, may be living with the consequences of the selling of absurdities as truth. Today a jury heard closing arguments in the Kyle Rittenhouse murder trial. If the jury justifiably acquits Rittenhouse of all the serious charges, it is expected that mostly peaceful rioters, looters, and arsonists will peacefully riot, loot, and burn certain areas of Kenosha. Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has already summoned 500 National Guardsmen to help police Kenosha and surrounding areas.
Corporate media have greatly exaggerated Kyle Rittenhouse's importance to American culture. He is on trial for murder because of that exaggeration. There is ample video evidence and eyewitness testimony to substantiate that Rittenhouse fired his rifle in self-defense a year ago.
The first victim, Joseph Rosenbaum, suffered from bipolar disorder. He'd previously served a long stint in prison for molesting a minor. Hours before being shot by Rittenhouse, Rosenbaum had been released from a mental hospital. He was in a psych ward for an attempted suicide. Rosenbaum had a death wish. That's why he attacked Rittenhouse and tried to wrestle away his AR-15 rifle.
The second victim, Anthony Huber, clubbed Rittenhouse with a skateboard. It's all on video. Huber had a criminal record for domestic assault. The third victim, Gage Grosskreutz, admitted walking up to Rittenhouse and pointing a gun at Rittenhouse's head.
Rittenhouse acted in self-defense. He should not be on trial for murder.
There's no proof that Rittenhouse is a white supremacist, as has been insinuated by our president, Joe Biden, and many people in the media. Rittenhouse is white. All three of his victims were white.
Rittenhouse lived in Illinois with his mother. His father lived in Kenosha. It's not difficult to understand how and why he felt compelled to go to Kenosha and attempt to protect businesses and citizens there. You can argue whether a 17-year-old should have involved himself in a situation as volatile as Kenosha. But he's not on trial for visiting Kenosha. He's on trial for murder. He's on trial for whether he acted in self-defense.
The Rittenhouse trial is an atrocity. The riots that ravaged Kenosha in the aftermath of Jacob Blake being shot by cops were an atrocity. Corporate media framed the shooting of Blake as an unarmed, innocent black man being shot by racist white cops. Blake was armed with a knife, had wrestled with police, and had an arrest warrant for sexual assault.
The media keep stacking absurdities on top of absurdities, and no one wants to take responsibility for the inevitable atrocities.
If the jury follows the law and common sense, Rittenhouse will be acquitted this week and violence will erupt in Wisconsin and perhaps in other parts of America.
Much of Voltaire's critique of France was accurate. He died a decade before the French Revolution.The death of America will be the final atrocity caused by the American media's love of absurdity.