Is Senator Jeff Sessions, now definitely Donald Trump’s choice to be his Attorney General, a bigot? I have no idea, but it doesn’t matter. Nor does it matter that the blaring “Trump is a racist” narrative relentlessly repeated by the left is unsubstantiated and based on innuendo and distortion.
Racial tensions in our nation are unacceptably high, and not even primarily because of the election. It is irresponsible for Trump, at this crucial juncture, to do anything at all that will add to those tensions, or exacerbate African-American fears, however unjustified, that he will not be a President of all citizens, regardless of creed or color. His nomination of Senator Sessions does exactly that, and he must know it.
In 1986, a much younger Sessions was nominated by President Reagan for a federal judgeship. At sensational Congressional hearings, Justice Department prosecutor J. Gerald Hebert testified that in 1981, he had met with Sessions, then the United States attorney in Mobile, Alabama. Hebert told Sessions that a federal judge had called a prominent white lawyer “a disgrace to his race” for representing black clients.
“Well,” Hebert testified Jeff Sessions replied, “maybe he is.”
Hebert also testified that Sessions had referred to the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP as “un-American” for “trying to force civil rights down the throats of people.” Then an African-American prosecutor testified that Sessions had referred to him as “boy” and that he had joked that he thought that the Ku Klux Klan “was O.K. until I found out they smoked pot.”
The testimony killed his nomination by President Ronald Reagan to be a federal district court judge. Now those alleged incidents will be raised again, by critics who will say that Donald Trump has placed a proven racist in charge of the nation’s law enforcement. Sessions, who engineered a comeback from that humiliation by getting elected to the Senate and becoming a member of the Judiciary Committee, has no better answers for the testimony against him now than he did then. Then, he insisted the comment about the Klan was meant as a joke and was obviously so, especially since he was in the middle of prosecuting a case against the group at the time. Asked whether he ever said the NAACP hated white people or was “a commie group and a pinko organization,” Sessions neither confirmed nor denied it. “I am loose with my tongue on occasion, and I may have said something similar to that or could be interpreted to that,” he testified. Sessions denied that he had called the NAACP or the ACLU.un-American, “clarifying” that he had said that “they take positions that are considered un-American. They hurt themselves; they lose credibility. And many people do think that some of those positions they take are against the national interests of the United States.”
Sessions denied the damaging account of African-American prosecutor Thomas H. Figures, who testified that Sessions referred to him as “boy.” Figures also claimed that Sessions once warned him to “be careful what you say to white folks.” Sessions denied saying both of those accusations, but not Hebert’s recollection of their exchange about the white lawyer being called “a disgrace to his race.” Sessions said he remembered the conversation, but not that part of it.
“I guess I will not disagree with him,” Sessions testified in 1986, “and I do not know why — I cannot imagine why I would make that comment.”
Yup: it was the Pazuzu Excuse.
Yes, this was 30 years ago. Yes, Sessions may have been unfairly accused. Yes, he is generally well-liked and respected in the Senate, and yes, Trump owes him big time, as the first Republican Senator to back his campaign. Nor is it Sessions’ fault that Trump’s perpetual motion mouth and non-existent self-control raised questions about his own racial sensitivity and tolerance. It is also not Sessions’ fault that Trump’s political and media foes have grossly misrepresented Trump’s views on race to stir up as much fear and resentment against the President Elect as possible.
All true, all irrelevant. Donald Trump is duty bound to do whatever he can to try to calm minority fears that a President Elect who was endorsed by white supremacy groups can be trusted. Nominating Senator Sessions as Attorney General does the opposite of that.
It is irresponsible, unnecessary, dangerous, reckless, defiant, stubborn and stupid.
NOW there’s something to protest.