Republicans are already reacting to former President Donald Trump's indictment by a Manhattan grand jury — and their first instinct is to use "white nationalist propaganda" to try to inflame tensions around it, wrote Zeeshan Aleem for MSNBC on Friday.
One of the best examples of this, he wrote, was Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH).
"Shortly after news of the indictment emerged, [Vance] tweeted: 'A week ago a video circulated of a lunatic harassing a family on a New York subway. He hurled racial slurs (the family was white) and threatened them. Alvin Bragg thinks that man should walk free and Donald Trump should go to jail for a fake misdemeanor. It’s despicable,'" wrote Aleem. "The story he wants to tell is that white civilization is under attack and that a Black man is helping lead the movement. It’s unclear what video Vance is referring to or whether he’s even talking about somebody who was arrested — and presumably many of Vance’s hundreds of thousands of followers won’t know, either — but the intended message is clear: This Black prosecutor is letting people of color get away with attacking white people — and trying to take down our most important avatar, Donald Trump."
This is not unique — Trump himself has been trying to stir up racial resentment against Bragg for weeks, even calling him a "racist" and suggesting he is only going after Trump because he hates white people. He has made similar attacks on other Black officials, going after New York Attorney General Letitia James and Fulton County, Georgia prosecutor Fani Willis.
DON'T MISS: 'Almost crying' Lindsey Graham ridiculed for Trump indictment meltdown
Trump's race-baiting goes back years; he infamously claimed during his 2016 presidential campaign that Gonzalo Curiel, a judge overseeing the Trump University lawsuit, couldn't judge him fairly because he was "Mexican" and "I'm building a wall."
"Vance is only the latest Republican to try to frame New York’s criminal justice system as easy on criminals (who are always presumed to be people of color in this narrative) and eager to take down someone it perceives as a political opponent," wrote Aleem. "Never mind that New York doesn’t have a high crime rate by national standards, has long had a draconian criminal justice system and is being run by a tough-on-crime former cop. And never mind that Vance has no way of knowing what legal evidence is being marshaled to charge Trump with a 'fake' crime. The facts are beside the point."
Meanwhile, Trump and other Republicans like Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) have also taken to calling Bragg "Soros-backed" or a "Soros D.A." — a reference to Hungarian-born Jewish billionaire philanthropist and Holocaust survivor George Soros, who often contributes to progressive and government-transparency causes and is the subject of frequent anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
"The right could have suggested that corruption is to blame for the Trump indictment without using racist and antisemitic subtexts to make its point," wrote Aleem. "Some on the right did. But many right-wing nationalists capitalized on it as yet another opportunity to reduce the world to a series of clashes between racial in-groups and out-groups, and provoke fears about what might happen if white America doesn’t snuff out an emerging Black and Jewish threat."