As President-elect Donald Trump rolls out the choices for his cabinet, things are going from bad to worse. Trump has selected Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) as his pick for U.S. Attorney General. Sessions is the most outrageous choice for the nation’s top cop — that is, if you think the Justice Department should protect civil rights rather than help eliminate them.
The senator’s record is a treasure trove of reasons why the man should never become attorney general, which is why the most incompetent and racially poisonous administration in recent memory will put him in charge.
Sessions’ history of racism is so bad that Reagan nominated him for a seat on the federal bench in 1985, and the Republican-controlled Senate gave him the thumbs down. His name never got out of committee.
His record on race and civil rights speaks for itself. As a U.S. attorney in Alabama, he led a voter-fraud witch hunt against three black civil rights activists and reportedly called a black assistant U.S. attorney “boy” and told him to “be careful what you say to white folks.” Further, Sessions once called the NAACP and the ACLU “un-American” and “Communist-inspired” organizations that “forced civil rights down the throats of people.” In 1981, during a KKK murder investigation, colleagues heard Sessions say that he “used to think they [the Klan] were OK” until he learned they were “pot smokers.”
On immigration, Sessions has a solid anti-immigration stance, with opposition to amnesty and legal immigration and affiliations with xenophobic and white supremacist hate groups. “Senator Sessions not only has been a leading opponent of sensible, comprehensive immigration reform, he has associated with anti-immigrant groups we consider to be deeply racist, including the Federation for American Immigration Reform and the Center for Security Policy,” said Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center in a statement. “If our country is to move forward, we must put all forms of racism behind us.”
With a 0 percent (“F”) rating from the NAACP, a 0 percent rating from the Human Rights Campaign, and a 25 percent rating from the ACLU, Sen. Sessions is a civil rights nightmare, showing he is no friend of the vulnerable, the disenfranchised and victims of discrimination. In the Senate, Sessions voted against expanding the hate crimes laws to include sexual orientation. And he reportedly spoke ill of the Voting Rights Act, calling it a “piece of intrusive legislation” for the strict federal oversight it placed on Southern states.
Named after Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions is a product of all-white segregated schools and an apologist of the neo-Confederate cause, notes neo-Confederate expert and author Ed Sebesta. The senator has come to the defense of Southern Partisan magazine, a bigoted publication that supports slavery, the Klan, apartheid and white separatism, and celebrates the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. “This is a disaster, another example of the Confederacy in the White House,” Sebesta said of Trump’s selection of Sessions to lead the Justice Department.
With the white nationalists of Trump’s GOP now controlling the legislative branch, there is no reason to believe the Senate would not confirm one of their fellow travelers. Certainly his allies will come to defense, argue that he is a good Christian who will uphold the Constitution and is not a racist. Already, Sen. Ted Cruz said of Sessions: “He is a committed and deeply principled conservative, and if those who serve in this administration have even a fraction of his integrity and his commitment to principle, we are going to see an administration that does remarkable things for the people of this country.”
One can imagine the havoc Jeff Sessions will wreak on African-Americans and other groups as Trump’s “law and order” attorney general at a time when police violence is rampant, problems pervade the criminal justice system and people of color face Jim Crow-era voting restrictions and voter purges.
Appointing Sessions to the position of attorney general is like hiring an arsonist for fire chief. And given the almost certain increase in hate crimes and the burnings of mosques, synagogues and black churches that we will witness in Trump’s America, we should expect a nightmare.
Trump proclaimed he was coming to Washington to drain the swamp. And yet, Trump went lurking around the bottom of the same swamp of racism in which he himself lives, and he found Jeff Sessions — a swamp-running racist.
Follow David A. Love on Twitter at @davidalove