Jack Kerouac infamously wrote: ‘There was no end to the American sadness and the American madness’.
I am a great believer in American exceptionalism and think the great experiment that is the United States of America has created the greatest country in the history of the world.
I believe in our ideals, I believe in our freedom, I even believe that despite the past five years of strife, division and – yes – violence, there is still no other place I would rather be and no other time I would rather live in.
Having said that, 2020’s notorious summer of madness certainly tested my optimism.
During that that summer of Covid lockdowns, the murder of George Floyd, the subsequent burning down of American cities, small businesses and abject violence, wat was up felt down and what was down felt up.
Journalists would stand in front of burning buildings and call it ‘mostly peaceful protesting’.
Many businesses were seen boarded up in the Wisconsin town this week in fear of possible damage and rioting
Protesters argued outside the Kenosha County Courthouse Tuesday ahead of the verdict, which would come later in the week
Protesters took to the streets Friday after Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty of murder
We were told Covid was a clear and imminent danger to all our health – unless you were protesting systemic racism, in which case the virus apparently gave righteous marchers a pass.
Speech was considered violence and violence was not. Rioters who destroyed innocent people’s property and business were given money to be bailed out of jail by woke celebrities while the owners and employees of wrecked businesses got nothing.
Statues were torn down and no part of our history was considered anything to be celebrated.
Police stopped going into crime-ridden neighborhoods because they were not confident they would be supported by the people, their cities or, in some cases, their own craven commanders.
Defunding the police with the suggestion that social workers be sent instead to people when they dial 9-1-1 was a serious proposition discussed on television networks and in liberal elite publications.
It was the summer of complete and total madness. It was the summer I no longer had faith I could live in New York City with my soon-to-be-born baby. It was the summer I feared there was almost nothing left that progressives and I could come together on. It was the summer I my husband and I promised each other we would never pay taxes in a state where we couldn’t legally keep guns in our home.
It remains a the historical marker that exemplifies a generational and cultural divide I don’t believe can be bridged in the immediate future.
Today, even if many of us have moved on in different ways it is hard not to be reminded of what that summer has done to our country.
This month we relived some of the darkest and most macabre moments of that summer during Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder trial.
He was accused of murdering two men and shooting another in Kenosha, Wisconsin last year during the Kenosha riots with an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle.
Kyle Rittenhouse, then 17, is seen carrying his gun in Kenosha during an August 2020 riot
Earlier this week, the now-18-year old appeared during his trial in court
Rittenhouse broke down into tears during his testimony
The teen was seen smiling in an SUV as he was swept away from the courthouse following Friday’s verdict
Kyle and his lawyers argued that he acted in self-defense. The prosecutors attempted to paint him as an unhinged lunatic with no regard for human life.
The liberal media tried to paint him as a white supremacist and militia member, a false line that even the then-candidate Biden repeated publicly.
In reality the video evidence at the trial clearly showed Rittenhouse was attacked by men who were rioters bent on destruction, not peaceful protesters. And every participant was white. It was to put it simply, a mess. The kind of mess which highlights the grave divisions on perspective, ideology and politics splitting the country in half.
I remember at the time thinking once again that we Americans had abandoned, neglected and forgotten an entire swath of the American population.
Specifically that, thanks to a cultural rot over the past decade or more, there is a group of American citizens who believe that they have no other way to fbe heard besides burning down buildings and destroying towns.
But equally that there are kids, which is what Kyle Rittenhouse is, who are so delusional and lost that they believe the only way they can stop this violence is by taking matters into their own hands – even if it costs lives.
The ‘protestors’ who destroyed Kenosha will never have my respect, understanding or compassion. They were using the same logic as terrorists who attack our country. There is nothing, no one and no cause compelling enough for me to believe the only resort people have is destroying peoples lives and businesses.
Conversely, I think Kyle Rittenhouse was clearly far too young and inexperienced to be anywhere near that riot, let alone with a semi-automatic weapon. What did he or his parents think would happen? Obviously nothing good.
It should have been a job for the cops and the authorities, but because of the politics of the moment, offers of peace-keeping aid to American cities were rejected.
So why have a simple expressions of common sense become so partisan.
Commentators on the right are trying to turn Kyle Rittenhouse into some kind of hero vigilante – as if he knew the men he shot had horrible criminal pasts – while commentators on the left are painting Kyle Rittenhouse as a racist, white supremacist, psychopath who has been putting on act for the jury by crying on the stand.
I can’t tell you how repulsive I find both sides.
Whether you vote Republican or Democrat what happened in Kenosha last summer is a stain on our history and a stigma that town will never live down.
And even though Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted – and may well enjoy his notoriety for a while – his life is, in fact, ruined. He could find the cure for cancer but this is what he will be most well-known for the rest of his life.
It was a tragedy for all concerned and an even greater tragedy for our country that no side should be celebrating.