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The right's ghastly, mindless, improbable new hero got a standing ovation at Turning Point USA. Screenshot

WTF America: Let Kyle Be An Example

Abby Zimet


With wingnuts and ghost guns - "Print guns not money!" - on the rise, we regret to inform you that a gathering of young Nazi wannabes just gave a delirious welcome to their newest, most pitiable hero: Pudgy-faced, dead-eyed, inchoate Kyle Rittenhouse, the heedless trigger-happy child who killed two and wounded one while playing vigilante in Kenosha and got away with it. Little Kyle was attending a panel at the AmericaFest conference in Phoenix; it was hosted by Charlie Kirk's Turning Point USA, which stays busy pushing the big lie, terrorizing school boards about mandates, CRT and other "anti-American" policies, snitching on "radical" teachers and otherwise grooming little fascists to "take up arms in the culture war." The event drew the usual awful suspects: Paul Gosar, Donnie Jr., Matt Gaetz calling for "4000 shock troops" to take back the country, Lauren Boebert screeching about "the armor of salvation," Sarah Palin who'll get "vaccinated over my dead body," a possibly drunk Tucker Carlson urging attendees to start a family young to have lots of little Nazis. Over three surreal, transphobic, paranoid, resolute days, there were panels with titles like “How Cultural Marxists Hijacked America” and “How to Survive Wokism & Change the World,” and booths hawking plastic fetuses, "Trump Won" hats, "Let's Go Brandon" merch and free Ayn Rand graphic novels in the swag bags, probably including her quote, "The question isn't who is going to let me; it's who is going to stop me."

Joining this ignoble horde among screaming, blinding pyrotechnics was the shiny new "touch-point for self-defense" and dumpy poster boy for the desperate revenge fantasies of a beleaguered white ruling class. Billed as a "VERY special guest," he shambled onstage to his own theme song, a raucous standing ovation, a sea of clicking cell phones in the air and a few girls holding signs that read "Kiss Me" while massive video screens behind him inexplicably re-played scenes of him fake-crying at his trial and telling Tucker about his bad dreams; as the cheering died down, what rose in its place was a ghastly, deranged chant of  "KYLE! KYLE! KYLE!" with shrieks of, "We love you, Kyle!" Said a beaming Charlie Kirk to the clueless kid who brought an illegal assault weapon to a peaceful protest, tripped in panic, shot two guys to death and frantically ran away without tending to either with the medic's kit he'd brought to "help" people,  “You’re a hero to millions. It’s an honor to be able to have you.” On stage for a panel on Kenosha and gun rights, Kyle mumbled about the deep lessons he'd learned from it all. “I think my trial was an example of them trying to come after our Second Amendment rights," he babbled. "A right to defend ourselves, in trying to take weapons.” Proclaimed Elijah Schaffer, a right-wing podcaster, to the adoring crowd, "Let Kyle be an example." Sure. Just like Greta, let him be an example - but in this case, of twisted young people, gun freaks run amok, racists running scared, and a deranged, vengeful, utterly bankrupt right-wing that treats governance like a reality show. From one horrified patriot: "Our country is diseased."

Abby Zimet

Abby Zimet

Abby Zimet has written CD's Further column since 2008. A longtime, award-winning journalist, she moved to the Maine woods in the early 70s, where she spent a dozen years building a house, hauling water and writing before moving to Portland. Having come of political age during the Vietnam War, she has long been involved in women's, labor, anti-war, social justice and refugee rights issues. Email:

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