Trump Rant at Prosecutors Has Roots in Growing Narrative

'White replacement theory' is driving a movement
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 6, 2022 1:20 PM CST
Trump Rant at Prosecutors Has Roots in Growing Narrative
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, shown in August 2021, said she's received more threats since Trump's speech at a Texas rally last weekend.   (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Looking out at a sea of faces at a Texas fairground, most of them white, former President Donald Trump seethed about his legal troubles and blamed them on malicious prosecutors. "These prosecutors are vicious, horrible people. They're racists and they're very sick, they're mentally sick," Trump said last weekend, before warning his audience: "In reality, they're not after me. They’re after you." He repeated his charge of racism, the AP reports, but skipped over an obvious detail: Those prosecutors are Black. His diatribe left the clear impression that Trump, who rode the politics of white grievance into the White House, thinks he can't possibly be treated fairly by Black officials.

The comments carry the echoes of racist messages that have proliferated in recent years—that Black people and other minorities are taking power, and that they will exact revenge on white people, or at the very least treat white people as they have been treated. That's among the fears stoking the white supremacy movement, the so-called "white replacement theory" that people of color will supplant whites in the country's power dynamics and social structure. "These are the same justifications that they use for Jim Crow laws and their mistreatment of African Americans," said Brian Middleton, a Black district attorney in Fort Bend County, Texas.

Opponents and analysts say Trump's rhetoric has escalated, perhaps because he recognizes that some among his base are receptive to more overt racism. "It intensifies that discourse and makes it explicitly racial," said Casey Kelly, a communications professor who has pored over transcripts of Trump's speeches. There is reason to think that Trump's words have had consequences, per the AP. Fani Willis—the Fulton County, Georgia, prosecutor who asked a judge for a special grand jury to probe possible "criminal disruptions" by Trump and his allies involving the 2020 presidential election—said threats and racist slurs against her have increased since Trump's rally in Texas.

(Read more Donald Trump stories.)

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