April 25, 2017

Racism Is Now In Session(s)

Photo Courtesy of Andrew Harnik/AP0

by Kevin Copp ’18

Opinion Staff

For all of the unqualified and unprepared members of President Donald Trump’s new cabinet, the appointment of Jeff Sessions as the new attorney general represents the greatest threat to the democracy that so many people have fought to uphold.

As the head of the Department of Justice, Sessions will be in charge of preventing crime and terrorism within the United States and ensuring that all those who break the law are prosecuted.

For American citizens who care about equality and justice, the two national virtues that Sessions is now obliged to uphold, the appointment of a bigoted racist and a staunch conservative who believes in the elimination of many civil rights acts should create an enormous angst about the future of all minority Americans.

Trump’s decision to appoint Sessions extends his growing lack of concern for issues such as the treatment of the LGBTQ community and civil rights. Just as Trump removed the LGBTQ rights page from the website hours into his presidency, his choice of Sessions as the new attorney general shows how little respect members of the LGBTQ community will receive during the Trump presidency.

During his last complete Senate term, from early 2015 to early 2017, Sessions received a rating of zero from the Human Rights Campaign, which measures how Senators vote on amendments and acts that would improve the rights of LGBTQ Americans. From this rating, it is clear how little concern Sessions has for protecting the rights of a huge segment of the American population.

Now that he is in charge of deciding much of what is considered “right,” it will be frightening to see how Sessions will manipulate his power to continue to oppose the LGBTQ community.

His controversial stances on race also presage the coming difficulties American minorities will face. Sessions has commented that he thought the KKK was okay until he heard they smoked marijuana, and he has been accused of calling a black assistant attorney “boy” and telling the man to be careful how he talks to “white folks.” He has also been alleged to have called the NAACP “un-American.”

Although he denies the latter claims and says that his KKK comment was a joke, the simple abundance of the swirling controversies that follow Sessions should be sufficient to make a rationally-minded American uncomfortable. How does it make sense to have someone who has been reproached for so many racial remarks at the head of the organization that determines what justice is in this country?

A man who has already been denied a federal judgeship and who possesses a history filled with such rampant racial insensitivity can only steer America back to the path of discriminatory voter laws. This bodes negatively for the south, where many minority citizens already deal with laws that make it difficult for them to register to vote. This pushes America backwards and threatens the existence of democracy itself.

If  Sessions is able to push his agenda across and prevent many minorities from voting, who knows if there will be enough people who prioritize equality that are able to vote to prevent an authoritarian from winning his second term in office?

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