This is Part 2 of a series of articles examining Donald Trump’s cabinet appointees and to extrapolate evidence alleging that they are extremists.
After the outcry from the appointment of the alleged “white nationalist” Steve Bannon as president-elect Donald Trump’s senior adviser, detractors moved on to criticize with equal fervor the latter’s pick for attorney general – Jeffrey Sessions.
Senator Jeff Sessions is a junior senator from the state of Alabama, first elected in 1996. He is a lawyer by profession and was appointed the U.S. attorney for the southern of Alabama, before rising as Attorney General for the state in 1994.
With two decades of experience in his legal profession, Sen. Sessions has vast experience to fulfill the role of Attorney General of the United States – the main legal adviser for the government.
Yet, Sessions’ appointment was not greeted with fanfare but rather with vitriol. In the same vein as the criticism that Bannon endured, the Alabama Senator was also accused as a racist shortly after the announcement.
An op-ed from The Guardian read: “Jeff Sessions as attorney general: a terrifying prospect for black Americans“, meanwhile the Glenn Greenwald-edited The Intercept published an opinion piece calling Sessions a “career racist“.
Now any “racist” appointed to a position of state power should ring alarm bells, but the same anti-Trump publications painted the president-elect’s senior adviser with the same accusations which were inaccurate and exaggerated.
Hence, a thorough analysis of Sen. Sessions’ history in public office should be done before we start buying these allegations.
Based on the two articles linked above, the main incident that points to Sessions as a racist is the ‘Marion 3’ incident.
In 1984, in Marion town in Alabama, three civil rights activists were arrested on charges of voter fraud. One of whom was Albert Turner, a confidante of the late Dr. Martin Luther King.
The charge stemmed from an incident where the three were accused of filling out voting ballots for other people, an act that constitutes voter fraud. The charge was admitted by the accused, but justified that they were merely helping since those voters were illiterate.
Sessions’ involvement with the case was merely because he was then U.S. attorney. He did not preside over the prosecution and instead left the task to two assistants.
To call the Senator a racist over this incident is wildly unwarranted. Not only did he not initiate the case, his involvement was only him fulfilling his job description.
Opponents of Sessions’ appointment also allude to his rejection as a federal judge in 1986. Huffington Post, another liberal publication, declared that in the 80’s he “was deemed too racist to be a federal judge“.
It is true that during hearings in 1986 for Sessions’ confirmation as a federal judge, anecdotes about statements he had made in private conversations played a factor in his rejection.
What critics fail to take into account, however, is that the anecdotes all came from a single individual: J. Gerald Hebert. Mr. Hebert is a fellow prosecutor who was a staunch rival of Mr. Sessions in the 80’s for various governmental positions.
To take his word alone on such crucial indictments is wholly unfair. The statements were not made by Mr. Sessions in public, but in confidence. There is no hard evidence to support such claims.
There is, however, recorded evidence of Jeff Sessions accusing the “financial elite” of a deliberate “conspiracy to keep wages down through immigration”. In an op-ed penned for the Washington Post, Senator Sessions makes a case for reduced immigration to help working class Americans.
In calling for a reduction in immigration numbers, various media outlets label Sessions as an “anti-immigrant” – when in reality, a flood of low-skilled workers entering any country does stagnate wages.
Even a much-loved progressive icon such as Bernie Sanders admitted the same reality. Yet, none of these publications accuse Sanders with the same racist charge.
Such a stance does not indicate xenophobia or racism, but rather of working-class populism in the same vein as Donald Trump. This viewpoint should not be condemned but celebrated, the American working class has been ignored for so long.
In saying all that, Senator Sessions still has a problematic history in regards to foreign policy. He was a staunch supporter of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, while at the same time voting against increasing funding for the Veterans’ Affairs medical program.
However, Sessions in reality is a far cry from the racist monster that the liberal mainstream media portrayed him to be. As such, there is no reason to fear his appointment as Attorney General.