Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Skewed World View of Jeff Sessions

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, III, the Attorney General of the United States of America, appears to be viewing the world from a white, backwater perspective that is mired in pride and ignorance  He hails from a place where good old boys drive their pick-up trucks along the back roads with their guns and Confederate flags on prominent display, a land where skin color in the base determinant of opportunities for success in life.  Sessions has a lifetime of prejudices and pent-up anger at what he sees as the other America, the one where people of color dare to think they can climb the ladder of equality and be just as much in control of their own destinies as he is of his - and now, as attorney general, he is at last in a position to put them back in their place.

Jeff Sessions is rapidly shaping up to be the single most dangerous character in the Trump political sideshow.   

The new attorney general is busy rolling back the clock on the federal government's efforts to assist in bringing rogue police departments under control.  Federal oversight and things like "consent decrees" are now being re-examined through a new lens, one that is far more tolerant of police brutality and much less accepting of public protest.  Sessions and his Department of Justice are hellbent on returning law enforcement to the glory days when it was run by the likes of Bull Connor.

Being a southerner, Jeff Sessions is, almost by genetic design, an ardent supporter of states' rights.  He is from a time when Jim Crow was still in effect in the Deep South, and Blacks were kept in submission through racist laws and brutal police actions.  But then the federal government began to intercede and put limits on the states' abilities to discriminate based on race.  It was an outrage that Sessions never forgot - nor forgave.

Yet now, this aging Alabama cracker finds himself in virtual control of the awesome legal and police powers of the federal government, the entity he once abhorred - and now he is very much into telling states and cities what they can and cannot do when it comes to certain things.

Sessions is on a mission to purge America of folks who don't look and think like him, and his first battle in that campaign is to rid the country of undocumented (he would call them "illegal") immigrants from south of the U.S. border.  One of the messages that the nation's top cop and lawyer is sending is that states and cities which offer "sanctuary" to those he wants to deport is that they will be punished for attempts to block his efforts at making America white again.  The feds will counter the charitable acts of states and cities by withholding federal funds - and they will still come looking for those "illegals."

(States' rights are all well and good, as long as those states and other small political entities agree with positions held by Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, III.   The attorney general is also making noises about limiting the ability of states to legalize the use of marijuana for medical and recreational use.  Sessions once famously remarked that he was a supporter of the Ku Klux Klan until he found out that some of the members smoked pot.  Some, however,  suspect that he still is supportive of hillbillies in hooded bed sheets, whether they toke on the occasional joint or not.)

But if Jeff Sessions is angry with interference form states and cities, he is livid at what he sees as judicial overreach into his and Trump's efforts to ban immigrants from entering the United States.  A few days ago he had this to say regarding a federal judge in Hawaii blocking boss's latest effort to ban Muslims from entering the country:

"I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the President of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and Constitutional power."
How dare a judge have an opinion, particularly one based on the Constitution, a document written by a white privileged class which should forever protect and sustain white privilege!

And how dare a judge in Hawaii, a place as foreign to real Americans as Kenya or Mars, have an opinion on anything at all.  All of that salt water in the Pacific dilutes whatever potency any opinion formed on an island might have - doesn't it?   Republicans have still not gotten over the election of Barack Obama and the fact that he was born in America - in the American state of Hawaii.  They spent eight years trying to de-legitimatize Obama as not being an actual American, and in so doing they formed a floating notion of Hawaii being outside of the United States.

Sessions' slam at the judge in Hawaii was just a case of Republicans coughing up the same old racism - Hawaii as the land of Obama, and therefore Hawaii as a foreign nation.

Well, hear this, Jefferson Beauregard, and hear it well.  I, too, resided on a tiny island way out in the Pacific Ocean.  It was twice as far from the mainland United States as Hawaii is.  I spent four years of my life living on that little island, and the entire time I was there I worked in support of the United States military.  Being there did not cause my patriotism to suffer, nor did it diminish my understanding and love of the Constitution.  I have, sir, even taught the Constitution to college students.

I lived on an island in the Pacific, Mr. Sessions, and yet I still recognize that banning entry into the United States based on religion is an egregious affront to the document that makes our country unique and, as your boss likes to say, "great."  America will not be great for long if we begin to ignore the document that is the very essence of its greatness.

I understand the Constitution and I get why that federal judge saw fit to impede Donald Trump's governance by tweet and tantrum.   He is out of step with the enlightened majority of Americans who recognize the value that diversity imparts onto our nation.  By his campaign bravado and his executive order banning entry to the United States from selected Muslim-majority countries, Trump is appearing to show a national religious preference, something which sounds closely akin to establishing a national religion, something which is specifically forbidden by the Constitution.

Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions have a choice to make:  either they bring their governing into alignment with the Constitution, or they ignore that enlightened document, the cornerstone of our democracy, and continue their sordid attempts to strengthen white privilege in America.  If they choose the latter, it will be at their own peril.

The Constitution has a remedy for tyrants.

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