Kyle Rittenhouse: Fool, Zealot or Hero?

What’s a 17-year-old to do?

As a public service announcement, I would like to advise grandparents to bring an emergency kit along when they visit their children’s homes. Among other items, the kit should include masking tape. This isn’t required for emergency repairs, but it might be necessary for taping one’s lips shut. That is the situation I found myself in a few weeks back, though I only used virtual tape.

Our daughter was discussing the Kyle Rittenhouse case with her barely 17-year-old son. While this was before the case concluded, she agreed with our grandson that it seemed a clear case of self-defense. I needed the tape when she added, “Still, he should have stayed home.” Truthfully, I wasn’t bursting to say anything because I knew exactly where she was coming from. She did not want her idealistic, impulsive and slightly dare-devil son to see Kyle as a role-model.

But my conflicting internal reaction led me to think more about this issue. In fact, I have heard a number of people express the idea, “Well, he did act in self-defense, but he shouldn’t have been there in the first place.” Having waited to write this Musing until the Kyle Rittenhouse trial was no longer front-page news, I have spent quite a bit of time sorting out my thoughts.

My fifth-grade teacher demanded a great deal of memorization. She was an outstanding educator, so rather than complaining or being resentful, most of the class ended the year requesting to have her again (the school complied) and with a fount of quotes from poetry and history under our belt. The following words were one of her choices:

“Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains or liberty? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” *

Patrick Henry was not yet 30 when he said those words. Nathan Hale was 21 when he is reputed to have said, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” Oh, but they weren’t seventeen! Numerous Revolutionary War soldiers were. Times were certainly different, but in the past week I have read two separate news stories of a fourteen-year-old and a fifteen-year-old who each shot men who were violently attacking their respective mother and father during a robbery. Both boys hit their targets, ending the attack.

Is there a difference between responding to an attack on a mother or father and voluntarily going to an area that is being looted, as Kyle Rittenhouse did? Yes. But in a society in which legislators are betraying and devaluing the lives and property of those who elected them, where defaming the police (and killing them) is on the increase, and where life is increasingly dangerous, we may all end up depending on those individuals who will step forward and champion public safety. We should note that both the sons who protected their parents as well as Kyle Rittenhouse stayed cool in an emergency and clearly had enough experience with guns to have steady hands, precise aim, and the psychological power to implement their training only when absolutely necessary. None of these were young and irresponsible hot-heads. Rather, they were disciplined young men.

My guess is that most mothers want to keep their sons home and safe, whether we are talking about 1776 or today. However, we don’t get to choose the time and place of history into which we are born. In a time of increasing anarchy and lawlessness, from the top of society to the bottom, I think we may all be more grateful for individuals with the skill, moral fiber and willingness to step forward.

*I know that you want to know if I wrote this by heart. I did, though when I checked it, I had forgotten the phrase, “Forbid it, Almighty God!” (I’m so ashamed.)

What do you think? I’d love to hear your comments on this Susan’s Musing article.
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