Earlier this month, Kyle Rittenhouse’s attorneys were able to convince a Wisconsin jury that he acted in self-defense when he shot and killed two men and wounded a third during chaotic street protests in August 2020.

But Rittenhouse gained more than just his freedom; right-wing politicians have bestowed hero status on the teen. Donald Trump welcomed him to Mar-a-Lago following his acquittal. The two posed for photos, both bearing grins.

“Really a nice young man,” Trump told Sean Hannity. “He was going to be dead if he didn’t pull that trigger.”

(It’s worth taking a close look at that photo above. Yes, in the background there’s a snapshot of Trump warmly greeting North Korean dictator Kim Jung-Un.)

In Congress, GOP members of the House are trying to recruit Rittenhouse to join their staffs. Reps. Madison Cawthorn and Lauren Boebert both offered him an internship. Boebert suggested they have a foot race to determine who gets to employ the 18-year old (Cawthorn is paralyzed).

Reps. Matt Gaetz and Paul Gosar are also vying to hire Rittenhouse. Gosar challenged Gaetz to an arm-wrestling contest to see who gets dibs.

Meanwhile, right-wing media has promulgated a narrative that casts Rittenhouse as a righteous crusader. Fox News’ Tucker Carlson called Rittenhouse “exactly the kind of person you would want many more of in your country.” Laura Ingraham called him “brave.”

Writing in The Week, columnist David Faris offers this perspective:

Where are the voices on the right apart from thoughtful anti-Trump Republicans like David French to point out the obvious logic thatsending trigger-happy children armed with AR-15s into already tense situations might not be the best way to avoid violence? Instead, Republicans are content to ride their base’s enthusiasm for the verdict, just as they were — with a few notable exceptions — during the countless indecencies of the Trump era. 

Even by the extremely low standards of our age, this marks a dark turn. GOP elites have graduated from ignoring gun violence and thwarting any effort to address it to actively encouraging and reveling in it. Worse, they are doing so in a highly-charged national atmosphere, punctuated by loose talk of secession and a second civil war, most of which is coming from the far-right but is increasingly being felt and pondered on the left