Then Sen. Jeff Sessions was really trying to change his tainted image during the Senate confirmation hearings earlier this year for the job of Attorney General. Many of us watched those day long grillings with hope that his racist past would come back to block him from power. The Democratic senators tried, but simply couldn’t get the votes from their more corrupt and spineless colleagues. Frustratingly the man who was seen as too racist to be a federal judge in the 1980s was seen by President Trump to be a great pick for the job.
It’s pretty unbelievable seeing something so regressive play out at the top levels of the executive branch in 2017. During his first few months in office Sessions, aided by Trump, has brazenly begun the process of normalizing and sanctifying racism.
All of the information below is pulled from reputable journalists and legacy publications. My added commentary is a common sense assessment based on facts. It’s important to be clear about your intentions in the era of fake news and the blogging/journalism grey area.
- Sessions has a long history of linking immigration to crime, despite the facts. After spending several hours the other night going through government statistics, I can’t find any reputable evidence to support the fact that illegal immigrants contribute more significantly to violent crime than US citizens. Historically, populist nationalism has lead to systemic racism and Trump’s “America First” rhetoric opens that door to openly “otherize” anyone whose existence threatens this worldview. According to the Washington Post, during his two decades as Junior Senator in Alabama “Sessions has opposed nearly every immigration bill that has come before the Senate the past two decades that has included a path to citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally. He's also fought legal immigration, including guest worker programs for immigrants in the country illegally and visa programs for foreign workers in science, math and high-tech. In 2007, Sessions got a bill passed, essentially banning federal contractors for 10 years who hire illegal immigrants.” Despite this story he claimed that he didn’t support Trump’s openly xenophobic Muslim Ban. To be fair, during his Senate confirmation hearing Sessions said, “I do not believe and do not support the idea that Muslims as a religious group should be denied admission to the United States." However a year before this statement Sessions was calling for a religious test (read: Muslim test) as immigration policy. It’s also important to note that from a practical level there is not enough border control personnel and judges to handle such an immigration witch hunt that they are proposing. Even at the rate of hiring Sessions and Trump would like to see.
- Sessions and Republicans in general love to tout the idea of state’s rights, but not when it comes to marijuana. Sessions has repeatedly stated that he is anti-marijuana, and that a crackdown at the federal level may occur. In order to accelerate the authoritarian police state that Trump has been promoting since he was the “Law and Order” presidential candidate, a backwards looking war on marijuana is a bone he can easily give to Sessions. Marijuana has far less deteriorating health effects than alcohol and cigarettes, and it even has an important medicinal use that has miraculously been recognized by Trump. Any crackdown on marijuana will put more people in prison, but if it works at all like the previous war on drugs did it will disproportionately affect minorities and people who live in poor neighborhoods. A marijuana crackdown will be an effective tool towards attaining that nationalist police state Trump campaigned on. Sessions quipped in 1981 that he thought the Ku Klux Klan were “OK until I found out they smoked pot." It’s important to note that this quip was on the same evening that a 20 year old black man named Michael Donald was lynched by the Klan in his state of Alabama. Yes, it’s true.
- Private prisons. Both Trump and Sessions campaigns received generous donations from the private prison industry, however I have reason to believe this extends beyond money. Sessions sent a memo on February 21st of this year to the acting director of the Bureau of Prisons that will reverse Obama’s plan to stop working with privately owned prisons at the federal level. In Sessions worldview, more prisons are a good thing despite how appalling the conditions are. This is in line with the administration’s xenophobic and invalid argument that immigrants cause more crime and there will have to be more people locked up these next few years. GEO Group, one of the nation’s largest for-profit prison operators, donated $250,000 to support Trump’s inaugural festivities according to Pablo Paez, who is the company’s vice president of corporate relations. The $100 million dollar party fail may be why Mr. Trump has been notoriously sensitive about the infamous crowd size photos. If you think about it, more people will go to prison to pay for that sad party.
- The scaling back of Justice Department investigations into criminal police departments. In 1994 congress passed Code 14141 which is a law that gives the DOJ the power to investigate and prosecute police departments that have shown systemic abuse of power. Code 14141 was enacted after the acquittal of the white police officers who beat an unarmed Rodney King in 1991. Sessions said in February that they are going to “scale back” this practice. This is clearly unacceptable in the era of Ferguson, Eric Garner and the countless other victims of racist police violence. What this means is that in Sessions and Trump’s police state the police will not be held accountable. Why would they scale these investigations back? Especially if Sessions and Trump are trying to hire more police, border patrol agents and open more prisons. These are perfect conditions to normalize systemic racism and xenophobia in the already troubled area of police enforcement.
- To complete my brief character study I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a few more important items. Sessions has voted against the Violence Against Women Act, the repealing of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, called the NAACP and ACLU “un-american and communist”, opposed the Voting Rights Act, lied under oath about his connections to a Russian diplomat knowing the Russians hacked our election process, and he’s a climate change denier.
Three decades of reporting adds up to a common sense point of view that Jeff Sessions is not fit to be Attorney General. His values are not in line with America’s values. Even his presence on the bench is un-American and I support all efforts to have him removed. Hit me up on twitter and let me know if I forgot any of Sessions other greatest hits or if there are legal steps that can be taken to have him removed.