Cities Brace for Left-Wing Riots—Again | Opinion

It's already a familiar pattern. As the nation awaits the verdict in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, National Guard troops have been mobilized while storekeepers in the city of Kenosha, Wisconsin, board up their windows and hope for the best.

In April, America held its breath waiting for the verdict in the trial of Derrick Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer who was ultimately convicted for the murder of George Floyd, an event that set off a summer of protests as well as hundreds of riots in major cities. The very possibility that Chauvin might be acquitted of the most serious charges was enough for shopkeepers across the nation to board up their store windows in preparation for a new round of rioting.

The same was true last November as the country awaited the results of the 2020 presidential election. Fearing that angry and potentially violent mobs would take to the streets to vent their anger should former president Donald Trump be reelected, store owners braced for violence.

In both of these latter cases, fears proved unfounded. But only because the potential rioters got what they wanted.

Trump was defeated, leading to happy street demonstrations rather than looting and arson. And Chauvin was convicted of murder, allowing the country to breathe a sigh of relief—and not just because the overwhelming majority of those who had seen the video of Chauvin pressing his knee down on Floyd's neck believed justice had been served. If the jury had sided with the defense, there was little doubt that more riots would have followed.

The nation has been transfixed by the Rittenhouse trial as cable news networks cover the proceedings live. Conservatives believe that the defendant must be acquitted on the grounds of self-defense and that an incompetent prosecution has done more to prove Rittenhouse's innocence than even the defense. Liberals believe the only reason for acquittal would be the bias of the judge or the largely white jury pool.

Rittenhouse trial protest
KENOSHA, WISCONSIN - NOVEMBER 17: Demonstrators gather outside of the Kenosha County Courthouse as the jury deliberates for a second day in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse on November 17, 2021 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Rittenhouse, a teenager, faces homicide charges and other offenses in the fatal shootings of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and for shooting and wounding of Gaige Grosskreutz during unrest in Kenosha that followed the police shooting of Jacob Blake in August 2020. Scott Olson/Getty Images

The 18-year-old defendant has become the latest reason for the polarization of American society. Protesters and counter-protesters have gathered outside the courthouse. No matter the eventual verdict, a lot of people are going to be unhappy. But there is only one side that might express its dissatisfaction with violence and riots. A guilty verdict will likely mean that those National Guard troops will go home without having to save those parts of the city that remained standing after the August 2020 riots in which the incident for which Rittenhouse is being tried took place. But if he is acquitted, there is no telling what will happen. As with the Chauvin trial, this uncertainty may affect the judgment of jurors whose homes and families could be put in danger if they displease the wrong side.

The wait for the Rittenhouse verdict is therefore just another chapter in a story that keeps repeating itself. In April, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) showed up in Minneapolis to egg on those who might have rioted had Chauvin been acquitted. No Democratic members of Congress have done that in Kenosha. But when those who side with last year's rioters don't get their way, mayhem is a possibility.

That's a terrible state of affairs in and of itself. What makes it doubly infuriating is that the widely acknowledged possibility of left-wing violence doesn't seem to factor into conversations about responsibility for our emerging culture of political violence.

For liberals, the Jan. 6 Capitol riot is the gift that keeps giving. That disgraceful event allows Democratic officials to discredit as "insurrectionists" any conservatives and Republicans who push back against liberal narratives. They even extend the label even to parents who protested radical indoctrination at school board meetings. Attorney General Merrick Garland has now directed the FBI to investigate parents some on the Left deem a threat of "domestic terror."

The same thing happened when conservatives voiced their anger at the 13 House Republicans who voted for President Joe Biden's infrastructure bill. While rude phone calls from dissatisfied citizens are nothing new for Congress, liberals inflated it into a culture of "menace" located solely on the political Right as the product of Trump and his followers.

Yet nowhere in the inflammatory coverage of either the school board protests or the pushback against Republican House members—which were both widely interpreted as inevitable follow-ups to Jan. 6—was there any mention of the BLM mobs that burned America's cities in 2020 or the threat of more such riots that hung over the 2020 election and the Chauvin trial.

Even as Americans wait for the Rittenhouse verdict, the narrative of Republicans infected by Trumpian intolerance and a "big lie" about the 2020 election being the sole source of political violence was fodder for daily political coverage in the liberal press. The mob that ran amuck on Jan. 6 notwithstanding, any riots that follow the Rittenhouse verdict, as was the case with Chauvin, would undoubtedly come from BLM and the Left. As it turns out, one end of the political spectrum is responsible for most of the political violence in America. But the real "big lie" is that that side is the Right rather than the Left.

Jonathan S. Tobin is editor in chief of JNS.org, a senior contributor to The Federalist and a columnist for the New York Post. Follow him on Twitter at: @jonathans_tobin.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.