When I want to miss the truth in a very sophisticated and subtle manner, then I defer to my betters at such urbane and disingenuous misdirection. The New York Times has perfected the art of such dissembling. Here they inform but do not educate about recent disturbing events in Wisconsin.
On Aug. 25, 2020, Kyle Rittenhouse, a teenager, shot three men, two of them fatally, during street protests in Kenosha, Wis., over the shooting of a Black man by a white police officer. Mr. Rittenhouse’s trial, which began on Nov. 1, revolved around a central question: Did his actions constitute self-defense under Wisconsin law? Last week, a jury decided that they did, finding him not guilty on every count against him.
The entire question that nobody wants to hear debated consists of “why?” Why did a set of preconditions that made Kyle Rittenhouse’s display of basic rifle marksmanship even necessary or sufficient come to exist? Why allow a mob to torch a city without a massive response from the authorities? Why would a teenage kid be the last line of defense against the Visigoths? Why would hordes of insane people cross state borders to riot in some place known as Kinosha?
It gets back to what governments care about. On a short enough timeline, governments are exceedingly competent. That, rather than stupidity, is what makes them infuriating. The US government really could fix infrastructure, police our national borders, lower the societal rate of poverty, improve the plight of those who live in poverty, and maintain at least reluctant pacifism on the streets of Amerikan cities. These things would all be possible if it were worth our government’s time and effort to bother.
All these goals could eventually make the world a better place (or not, given human nature). Who wouldn’t want nice things like World Peace and universal commonweal? I would feel like a better person if I went out there and made all this good stuff happen. I also would never obtain unchallenged power and have the all the perquisites of an overblown Roman Emperor.
Governments are good at what they are incentivized to be good at. Those things that do not give them more power, control, and adulation, not so much. The Governor of Wisconsin had the option of making Kenosha — or is it Kinshasa — a locked-down no-go zone for anyone who wanted to trash things in solidarity with Saint George Floyd. Even National Review can still figure that much out.
But Evers was and is the governor — the commander of the Wisconsin National Guard. His job in such a situation isn’t merely to defer to requests from city and county officials; it’s to anticipate and head off rioting. Given that the country had just witnessed riots following the murder of George Floyd, he should have immediately known greater numbers of riot police and National Guard would be necessary to keep the peace.
In a world where incentives aligned with decency, the entire fiasco in Kinosha, WI would hang a black pall over Gov. Evers’ legacy as a leader. Why? Because not letting entire portions of a city burn to the ground is pretty much part of a state governor’s job. At least it would be a part of that job if governors in Amerika’s democracy derived reward from caring for the people they actually govern.
To figure out the “why” driving Governor Evers, it helps to see what rewarded him and what would lead him to punishment. His party needed the sort of chaos that gets an incumbent (in this case, Donald Trump) voted out of office. The #BLM riots were a classic example of the old Vladimir Lenin remark “the worse, the better.”
Many of his benefactors and voters were people who flet entitled to riot in Kenosha after police officers shot and injured an individual who gave them problems named Jacob Blake. Letting Kenosha burn hurt Donald Trump and helped make Evers appear sympathetic to minority concerns. Tony Evers profited professionally from what happened in Kenosha until Kyle Rittenhouse showed up with his AR-15.
Yet Tony Evers could have just decide to forgo a reward that came at the cost of misery and destruction to others. Maybe Evers could just decide to pander to minorities in a different fashion. Sadly, incentives not only involve carrots. There is always also a stick.
Evers exists in am environment of competitive virtue signalling. He cannot just believe the right things. He has to believe them more fervently then every other college graduate who believes all the right things. Somebody else who panders more can replace him at any time.
The riots don’t have to just target Donald Trump. They could also target Tony Evers. He who lives by the sword dies by it. Finally, Tony Evers just rides a tiger. Evers does not lead. He panders to survive like every politician in a nation fallen under demotism.
William F. Cuckley’s National Review concludes the article on Kenosha with some, but not all, of the truth. For them, that’s not entirely bad.
But riots are not acts of God. They are caused by men, and it takes men to stop them. If the man in charge of Wisconsin’s National Guard had deployed 1,500 Guardsmen on August 23, August 24, or August 25, it’s entirely possible that the deadly encounter between Rittenhouse and Rosenbaum would have never occurred.
It does take men to stop riots. It also takes incentives to motivate those men. Tony Evers was the man required at a particular time and in a particular place to stop a riot. He was not motivated. The incentives that drove him were perverse to the commonweal. At some point that could read as a fitting epitaph to Amerikan Democracy.