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Why Are the People Brave Enough to Hold Trump to Account Mostly Black & Brown?

by Thom Hartmann
There is no movement advocating political violence on the American left. It is entirely confined to the American right & the media needs to admit that, and the FBI needs to recalibrate its efforts…

Donald Trump and his sons put a bullseye on the Hispanic daughter of New York Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan this week, identifying her by name and picture in repeated posts on his Nazi-infested social media site. Predictably, she’s now receiving threats of violence, as is her Colombian-born father.

The stock-in-trade of fascists is violence and the threat of violence.

When he was rising to power in Hungary, for example, Victor Orbàn’s right-hand-man led a torchlight march into a Budapest Roma neighborhood threatening to burn the “gypsies” — who fled in terror — out of their homes. More recently, Orbán started arresting people who “defamed” him on social media.

Fascist movements within democracies are always minority movements and have been throughout history, from Mussolini and Hitler to Pinochet and Putin. Because they’re minority movements, fascists always use violence to cow enough people that legitimate political challenges to them quietly die.

We’re seeing this exact phenomenon today across America in response to Donald Trump’s fascist MAGA movement. While he recruited people to violate the law with his “fake electors” scheme in seven states (Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin) only Fani Willis in Georgia has had the courage to criminally prosecute him for that crime.

She’s not only receiving regular threats of violence in a state with a long history of lynching and political assassinations; now Jim Jordan is trying to drag her through the mud in Washington, DC, after rightwing Georgia Judge Scott McAfee allowed weeks of baseless, nationally-televised character assassination.

Similarly, although Trump’s apparently committed massive bank, tax, and insurance frauds in multiple states, only Letitia James in New York had the courage to prosecute him and his company. She and her family have also received death threats and other promises of violence.

Just this week, Trump promised to pull a Hitler on her, saying that if he’s back in the White House he’s going to drag her up on charges. His lawyer, Alina Habba, told Fox “News”:

“Letitia James is not going to get away with it. We will come at them. We will come hard and we will literally fight until the truth comes out.”

Literally fight? Yeah, violence and the language of violence are, as I said, the stock-in-trade of fascists.

The legal ground in Washington, DC is littered with Trump’s crimes: blatant violations of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause (which is the supreme law of our land), the Hatch Act (5 years in prison), and campaign finance laws. So far, the only person with the courage to prosecute him for his campaign finance violations has been Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg.

So, of course, Bragg has also, along with his family, received multiple death threats and promises of violent retribution for daring to charge Trump with the crimes we all saw him commit. It’s got to be both terrifying and exhausting to take on the leader of today’s American fascist movement.

Trump criminally stole thousands of top-secret documents from the United States (you and me), making them available to foreign spies and ne’er-do-wells who could have sold them for a small fortune (say, $2 billion from Saudi Arabia?) by storing them in a room conveniently containing an industrial high-speed copying machine.

Jack Smith’s prosecution is only scratching the surface, but, even with that, it looks like Judge Cannon is going to give Trump a get-out-of-jail-free card. Nonetheless, Trump has attacked both Smith and his wife, and Trump’s MAGA followers have promised violent retribution against him.

Observers wonder out loud if Cannon is cutting Trump slack because she and her husband would rather not be on the receiving end of the violence his fascist followers enthusiastically dish out.

Every time Trump has been challenged, from legal challenges to the January 6th Committee investigators, he has tried to incite violence against the prosecutors, judges, witnesses, legislators, staffers, and potential jurors.

This is what fascists always do.

The Secretaries of State of every state in the union were witness to Trump’s fascist attempt to overthrow the government of the United States on January 6th and before, but only two had the courage to remove him from the ballot as required by the 14th Amendment. In both cases, those women who made the decision received threats of violence and had to increase their security details.

Even judges on the Colorado Supreme Court weren’t spared. As NBC News reported, Trump’s followers reacted to the Colorado justices with predictable ferocity:

“‘This ends when we kill these f–kers,’ a user wrote on a pro-Trump forum that was used by several Jan. 6 rioters.

“‘Kill judges. Behead judges. Roundhouse kick a judge into the concrete,’ read a post on a another pro-Trump website. ‘Slam dunk a judge’s baby into the trashcan.’”

NBC’s Ryan Reilly added:

“The threats fit into a predictable and familiar pattern, seen time and time again after legal developments against Trump.”

Nobody is immune to fascist violence once the movement reaches a critical mass: random Black election workers have been dragged into Trump’s vortex of racist violence. When Trump and Giuliani accused Ruby Freeman and her daughter Shaye Moss of stealing votes for Joe Biden (an allegation that was completely bogus), within hours the violent threats began, including people showing up at their homes with guns.

“Kill yourself now so we can save ammo!” was the first call to come into Freeman’s answering machine when Trump made the claim.

Moments later, an email arrived that says:

“I hope the Federal government hangs you and your daughter from the Capitol dome, you treasonous piece of shit! I pray that I will be sitting close enough to hear your necks snap.”

Just a few hours later, a mob with torches and a bullhorn showed up at Freeman’s house, although she’d already left after being warned by the FBI that she was on the “kill list” of a January 6th defendant they’d just arrested.

This is not normal American politics.

Mitt Romney, speaking with writer McKay Coppins for his book Romney: A Reckoningtold him the story of multiple Republican senators who were so terrified of violence at the hands of Trump’s fascist followers that they set aside their consciences and voted against convicting him of trying to blackmail Zelenskyy and, later, trying to overthrow the government of the United States.

“One Republican congressman confided to Romney that he wanted to vote for Trump’s second impeachment but chose not to out of fear for his family’s safety. The congressman reasoned that Trump would be impeached by House Democrats with or without him — why put his wife and children at risk if it wouldn’t change the outcome?

“Later, during the Senate trial, Romney heard the same calculation while talking with a small group of Republican colleagues. When one senator, a member of leadership, said he was leaning toward voting to convict, the others urged him to reconsider. You can’t do that, Romney recalled someone saying. Think of your personal safety, said another. Think of your children. The senator eventually decided they were right.”

Republicans nationwide continue to cower in the face of implicit and explicit threats of violence from Trump and his followers. They know that so long as they support der Führer (yes, some of his followers call him that) they’ll be protected from political violence.

This is how fascism takes over a nation from within: with violence and the fear of violence. As Pastor Niemöller’s famous quote highlights, in the face of Hitler’s rise on the wings of violent rhetoric, most Germans were as quiet as are most Republicans today.

I’ve been doing what is now the nation’s largest progressive radio/TV show for 20 years, reaching an estimated audience of 6 million a week. My writings here on HartmannReport.com are frequently reprinted by other progressive media.

The result is that I regularly get threats, although this is not a experience shared by my rightwing colleagues. When I asked a couple of conservative radio hosts I’ve known for years if they get threats of violence or death, each said, “No.”

There is no movement advocating political violence on either the American left or in the center. It is entirely confined to the American right, and the media needs to admit that, and the FBI needs to recalibrate their efforts.

As fascism expert and historian Emilio Gentile noted about how fascist movements start and gain power:

“In the beginning there was violence.”

That said, of all the circumstances surrounding Donald Trump’s nine-year political crime spree, the one I find the most interesting is that, with the exception of Jack Smith (who appears not to have had much of a choice in the matter: he was assigned the job by his boss, Merrick Garland), all of the people brave enough to step up and hold Trump to account by prosecuting him are Black.

Similarly, the only congressional leader willing to call together a committee to investigate Trump’s crimes around January 6th was Bennie Thompson, a fearless Black man.

Bragg, James, Thompson, and Willis could have kept their heads down and ignored Trump’s crimes — like the hundreds of white prosecutors who could have prosecuted Trump for his crimes in their counties, states, and the District of Columbia — but these incredibly brave Black prosecutors stood up and become a shining beacon of righteousness and decency for the world to see. Defenders of democracy.

Why is this?

Is it that Black people who’ve fought and worked through a system stacked against them to get their law degrees have internalized what abolitionist Thomas Paine (and his biographer, Harvey Kaye) called “the promise of America”?

Is it that they and their ancestors have lived through struggle and hardship that white people like me can hardly imagine, and (as we see with the way Fani Willis has been treated by a racist judge) not just survived but committed themselves to fighting on?

Or are they the “normal” ones, merely enforcing the law as the law requires, and the hundreds of white prosecutors, district attorneys, and attorneys general are too cowardly to take on an open fascist like Trump?

Is it that the white prosecutors in states other than Georgia, steeped in centuries of white privilege and accumulated family wealth, aren’t willing to “risk it all” — or even some of it — merely to save our country from the scourge of fascism and the crime and violence that always accompanies it?

I don’t know the answer to any of these questions (and welcome your thoughts in the comments below), but am proud to live in a nation alongside these brave Black men and women.

That said, more white people need to get into the fray, because this year, with Trump literally fighting for his wealth and freedom, it’s going to get more intense than anything we’ve yet seen.

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