“Are we really surprised that looting and arson accelerated to murder? How shocked are we that 17-year-olds with rifles decided they had to maintain order when no one else would?” — Fox News host Tucker Carlson talking about Kyle Rittenhouse, an Illinois teenager who’s been charged with the murder of two people during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

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Fellow Americans, as we continue to reckon with an escalation of violence in our streets, and tensions rise ever higher in our communities across the country, I plead with you to respond in a measured, careful manner.

The reality is that being a teenager in America today is just plain difficult, and sometimes it’s easy for them to slip up. Now, more than ever, our youth need our support. Accordingly, we should not rush to judgment on the terroristic actions of our vulnerable white teens.

Let’s be real here — we’ve all been young once, and we’ve all done things we weren’t supposed to, often against the advice of our parents, our teachers, and maybe even the law. Who among us in high school didn’t contemplate propagating violent, white supremacist ideology in every available public forum in the years leading up to a premeditated act of murder? High school is awkward! We’re all just trying to fit in and figure out who we are. Does that sometimes result in instances of armed violence, using weapons of war carefully acquired over many years? Sure! It’s 2020. Things are just different now. There’s Facebook, and TikTok, and with these new platforms comes the temptation to commit first-degree intentional homicide against Black people exercising their constitutional right to free speech.

I’m afraid this is just another instance of a white kid being a white kid that the media is blowing completely out of proportion. Personally, my friends and I loved pretending we were members of an anti-government militia out to murder minorities with impunity, knowing we were likely immune to prosecution. This is just what white kids do. Can you really blame them? Most of them grew up watching their parents take over local state capitol buildings with their assault rifles and combat gear. These traditions run deep. Who are we to strip a white child of his birthright?

Just because one rascal crossed state lines with a high-capacity weapon and staged an elaborate attempt at framing his act of murder as self-defense, does not mean we should ruin the dream of other white children who wish to purify the nation in defense of a fascistic law enforcement fantasy. These are creative, driven kids, who will grow into hateful, angry adults, and we shouldn’t do anything to curb their warped beliefs until it’s too late. Heck, many of them will probably end up in law enforcement!

So please, I urge you, join me in backing our precious white children, and their violent delusions. The loss of even one future is a pain too deep to bear.