During the confirmation hearings for Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, racist sum’bitch, his Republican colleagues went classic Americana on us as they quite theatrically conveyed their collective belief that the real burden of racism isn’t racism itself, but merely being accused of racism.
There was Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who told committee members during opening remarks, “I have never witnessed anything to suggest that Senator Sessions is anything other than a dedicated public servant and a decent man.” According to Collins, Sessions “is not motivated by racial animus.”
Then came Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who asked Sessions, “Would you agree that being called a racist is the worst thing that can ever happen to someone?” Sessions emphatically replied, “Why, yes, sir, I would.”
These two said this even though Coretta Scott King once wrote, 30 years prior, that Sessions would “irreparably damage the work of my husband” when he was nominated for a federal judgeship. Everything about Sessions screams Dennis the Menace if Dennis the Menace grew up to be a racist with power. Still, these politicians argued that he was just a nice ole Southern fella, and it’s so doggone sad that folks want to brand that Confederacy-loving, egg-headed fuck exactly what the hell he is.
Joining them in the lie were two high-profile black Republicans—former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.)—both of whom pathetically lent their endorsement to Sessions for attorney general. Rice has long been an apologist for terrible white men associated with the Republican Party. Just last week, she was excusing Minute Maid Mao’s madness. As for Scott, who spent 30 minutes on the Senate floor advocating for Sessions, well, if self-loathsomeness is contagious, may he forever keep the fuck away from ’round me.
Sessions has been off to a rousing start since being confirmed as attorney general. He may very well have perjured himself in those very confirmation hearings during an exchange with Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.). And while he was supposed to have recused himself from Mother Russia and the investigation into possible collusion between its government and Saddle Tan Nixon’s presidential campaign, uh, ask fired FBI Director James Comey about how that’s gone.
Yet, between being a known racist, a liar and, potentially, someone who helped a sitting president obstruct justice, Sessions remains attorney general. It’s as if nothing matters anymore. That is, almost nothing.
Late last week, Sessions issued a new directive (pdf) for federal prosecutors nationwide: “that prosecutors should charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense.”
It came along with several other departures from directives issued during the Obama era at the Justice Department. In a news conference, Sessions said: “Charging and sentencing recommendations are bedrock responsibilities of any prosecutor, and I trust our prosecutors in the field to make good judgments. They deserve to be unhandcuffed and not micromanaged from Washington.”
Sessions also argued, “The most serious offenses are those that carry the most substantial guidelines sentence, including mandatory minimum sentences.” Sessions even called the move “simply the right and moral thing to do.” Who better to judge us on right and wrong than the suited redneck who perjures himself and helps another con man try to get out of a federal investigation?
In response, former Attorney General Eric Holder released a statement, claiming: “The policy announced today is not tough on crime. It is dumb on crime. It is an ideologically motivated, cookie-cutter approach that has only been proven to generate unfairly long sentences that are often applied indiscriminately and do little to achieve long-term public safety.”
There are conservatives who agree with Holder—including the likes of Marc Levin, the policy director at Right on Crime, whom Vice described as “a leading voice for criminal justice reform in the conservative movement.” The same goes for Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who declared via memo, “Mandatory minimum sentences have unfairly and disproportionately incarcerated too many minorities for too long. Attorney General Sessions’ new policy will accentuate that injustice.”
It will, but it is by design. It is the same reason private-prison stocks rose dramatically after the results of the 2016 presidential election and continued to rise well into 2017 after the current administration noted that it would continue to use private prisons.
Holder blasted Sessions’ “unwise and ill-informed” move, arguing that the decision would “take this nation back.” Therein lies the intent: to “Make America great again.” This was undoubtedly a part of their mission, and sadly, it’s the one area where they have the best chance of success.
Sessions, like so many associated with this administration, is majorly ill prepped to run a government. Their xenophobia has failed them in their attempt to enact a Muslim travel ban that the courts would allow. Their nativism won’t bring them their “big, beautiful wall,” which is a stupid idea, but it will yield them marginal success in the rising terror that is their widespread deportation agenda (aided largely by former President Obama’s own troubling pattern). That isn’t enough, though. They want a real win, and given that the reality of their obvious racism won’t get in the way of their plan to stack prisons with even more black bodies, here we are.
If there is one thing Sessions has mastered, it’s how to legislate oppression that will undoubtedly have an impact on black people, about whom a man named Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III was clearly raised to harbor certain attitudes. All too often in America, you can win when you bet against black, no matter how great a fool you may be. The war on drugs has long been proved to be unwinnable because these folks have been fighting with the wrong tools, but that war has always been an excuse to imprison black people.
It’s exactly what Ava DuVernay explored in the phenomenal yet terrifying documentary 13th. It’s as ironic as it is despicable that Sessions’ move will lead an already enormous prison population to rise even more as he himself actively toys with the law, but that is the pervasiveness of whiteness for you. It ought to matter more that Sessions may belong in a cell more than the folks whose lives he just further ruined, but this is where we are.
History will not be kind to Jeff Sessions, but hindsight will not make anyone who cares now more comfortable about the present and not-too-distant future that awaits us.
Fuck Jeff Sessions. Fuck everyone in the U.S. Senate who spoke highly of him. Fuck every senator who feigned greater offense about being called a racist than about the burdens that racism places on all of our darker backs. Fuck the black people who actually lent their hues to his long-stemming hatred of us. Fuck everyone who voted to confirm him. Fuck all of them.
Most of all, fuck that real estate and reality-star scammer who bottoms for the Russian government and whoever else appears to pull his purse strings for asking black people during the campaign that if they voted for him, “What the hell do you have to lose?”