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Friday, August 18, 2023

Opinion Trump’s most racist supporters are coming to his defense

Opinion Trump’s most racist supporters are coming to his defense

Former president Donald Trump gestures to supporters at a rally in Erie, Pa., on July 29. (Dustin Franz for The Washington Post) 

“And so it begins. The masks, or hoods, are coming off.

In Texas, a Donald Trump supporter is being held without bond on federal charges of threatening to kill U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan, who presides over the case against Trump for allegedly trying to overturn the 2020 election. Prosecutors said the suspect, Abigail Jo Shry, telephoned Chutkan’s chambers to make an explicit death threat and to call the judge, who is Black, a “stupid slave n-----.”

I won’t repeat the vile epithet Shry allegedly hurled, but its plural rhymes with “RIGGERS” — a word Trump conspicuously used Tuesday, in all-caps, while ranting on social media about the “stolen” election. Trump’s wordplay was quickly echoed, and amplified, by acolytes posting on far-right online platforms.

Meanwhile, in Atlanta, Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis, who filed a massive racketeering indictment against Trump and 18 co-defendants on Monday night (and is African American), also has received racist threats that include pictures of gallows and nooses.

And the names and purported addresses of the grand jurors who returned the Fulton County indictment were doxed on a pro-Trump fringe website, according to NBC. The network said one of the responses to the list read: “These jurors have signed their death warrant by falsely indicting President Trump.”

It was always just a matter of time before threats against the public officials and everyday citizens who are holding Trump accountable became explicitly violent and racist. The only question is whether the Republican Party is going to pretend not to notice — which is the same thing as actively joining in.

In addition to Willis, two other African American prosecutors are pursuing legal action against Trump: New York County District Attorney Alvin Bragg, on criminal charges that Trump allegedly falsified business records; and New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is suing Trump in a civil case for alleged tax fraud. The clear implication of the attacks coming from angry Trump supporters — and the unapologetic claim of Shry’s alleged threat against Chutkan — is that Black Americans have no right to sit in judgment of their MAGA hero.

Given the demographics of New York, Miami, D.C. and Atlanta, it is all but certain that there were African Americans on all four of the grand juries that have indicted Trump on criminal charges. For performing their civic duty, these men and women, too, risk being targeted as “RIGGERS.”

In Georgia state courts, unlike in those other jurisdictions, grand jurors’ names are listed in the indictments they hand up. No other personal information is disclosed, but Trump supporters have posted what they purport to be photographs and addresses of some of the Fulton County grand jurors on social media. County officials have declined to comment on what, if any, security arrangements have been made.

According to the Census Bureau, a plurality of Fulton County’s population, 45 percent, is African American. On Monday night, television viewers watched as a Black female officer from the sheriff’s department took the Trump indictment to Judge Robert McBurney (who is White) for his signature; a Black female official, guarded by Black law enforcement personnel, took the paperwork to the county clerk’s office for processing; and, finally, Willis made a brief appearance before reporters.

Two African American election workers in Fulton County, Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, were falsely attacked by Trump for supposed cheating in favor of Joe Biden. Trump supporters harassed them so viciously with racist threats that they had to go into hiding. Deluded MAGA true believers even showed up at the home of Moss’s grandmother, announcing they intended to make a “citizen’s arrest.”

Trump attorney and co-defendant Rudy Giuliani admitted recently in a sworn court document that the allegations against Freeman and Moss were lies. But Trump has not taken anything back. In his “RIGGERS” post, he vowed that next week, he will present a report vindicating his election fraud claims. To their credit, Gov. Brian Kemp, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and other top Republicans in Georgia have been forthright in defending the accuracy and integrity of both the vote and the vote-counters. But where is the rest of the Republican Party?

All of the elected officials and presidential candidates who indulge Trump’s stolen-election lies for fear of being defenestrated by the MAGA base — all of those who mumble about “irregularities” in the 2020 vote or the “weaponization” of the justice system — have a decision to make.

As his legal peril mounts, Trump is nakedly using race as a wedge to animate his most racist White supporters. Are you okay with that, Ron DeSantisTim ScottNikki Haley? Mike Pence? Vivek Ramaswamy? You need to tell us, yes or no, at your coming debate.“

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