After a week of long days writing a federal court brief (and celebrating our birthday), Blue Southerner is back. In our absence the daily news cycle has been dominated by the national and international uproar over the shocking decision by nearly 62 million Americans to vote for and elect real estate mogul, reality show star, and thin-skinned man-baby Donald J. Trump as president of the United States.
In the nearly two weeks since the election, two things have become apparent. Trump remains Trump, as we always knew he would. And the election has paved a way for the worst of southern racism and narrow-minded white nationalism to spread throughout the heartland of America.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Trump’s America, Alabama-style.
Nothing symbolizes the Alabamafication of America more than Trump’s decision on Friday morning to tap Alabama’s junior senator, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, as attorney general. Sessions, of course, was the first sitting U.S. senator to endorse Trump’s presidential candidacy, and so satisfies what clearly is President-elect Trump’s chief criterion for high office in the Trump administration: personal loyalty to Trump.
Sessions also has a history of racism, which should not surprise anyone after Trump named as his chief strategist Steve Bannon, former CEO of white nationalist alt-right website Breitbart, and as national security advisor Lt. General Michael Flynn, whose Twitter feed is cram full of Islamophobic posts. As we have written elsewhere about Sessions:
Sessions, who was named for not just one but two leaders of the Confederacy that started the Civil War over slavery (Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Confederate General P. G. T. Beauregard) got into trouble over his racism back in 1986 when President Ronald Reagan unsuccessfully tried to make him a federal judge. It turns out that the Senate Judiciary Committee of which, ironically, Sessions later became a ranking member, thought so little of Sessions’s history of racist comments that it killed the nomination in committee, which was the first time that had happened in 48 years.
Wikipedia succinctly summarizes what happened:
At Sessions’ confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, four Department of Justice lawyers who had worked with Sessions testified that he had made several racist statements. One of those lawyers, J. Gerald Hebert, testified that Sessions had referred to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) as “un-American” and “Communist-inspired” because they “forced civil rights down the throats of people.”
Thomas Figures, a black Assistant U.S. Attorney, testified that Sessions said he thought the Klan was “OK until I found out they smoked pot.” Sessions later said that the comment was not serious, but apologized for it. Figures also testified that on one occasion, when the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division sent the office instructions to investigate a case that Sessions had tried to close, Figures and Sessions “had a very spirited discussion regarding how the Hodge case should then be handled; in the course of that argument, Mr. Sessions threw the file on a table, and remarked, ‘I wish I could decline on all of them,’” by which Figures said Sessions meant civil rights cases generally. After becoming Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee, Sessions was asked in an interview about his civil rights record as a U.S Attorney. He denied that he had not sufficiently pursued civil rights cases, saying that “when I was [a U.S. Attorney], I signed 10 pleadings attacking segregation or the remnants of segregation, where we as part of the Department of Justice, we sought desegregation remedies.”
Figures also said that Sessions had called him “boy.” He also testified that “Mr. Sessions admonished me to ‘be careful what you say to white folks.’”
And that’s not all. Sessions was anti-immigration before anti-immigration was cool. He unsuccessfully fought against the 2013 immigration legislation that provided a “path to citizenship” for immigrants who are in the country without proper documentation.
Isn’t that nice?
We have argued for years that Alabama and other deep-South states need to become more progressive and less racist in order to catch up to the rest of America. Now it appears that Alabama-style racism and the embrace of ignorant Islamophobia, misogyny, and homophobia have taken over the nation (outside of the urban areas on the coasts, which overwhelmingly voted for Hillary Clinton). Incidents of racial, religious, and sexual harassment in public and in our schools since the election indicate that Trump’s election has emboldened and legitimized the deplorables of which Clinton so memorably spoke.
For years, they have lurked in the web’s dark corners, masking themselves with cartoon images and writing screeds about the demise of white culture under ominous pseudonyms. But on Saturday, in the wake of Donald J. Trump’s surprising election victory, hundreds of his extremist supporters converged on the capital to herald a moment of political ascendance that many had thought to be far away.
In the bowels of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, three blocks from the White House, members of the so-called alt-right movement gathered for what they had supposed would be an autopsy to plot their grim future under a Clinton administration. Instead, they celebrated the unexpected march of their white nationalist ideas toward the mainstream, portraying Mr. Trump’s win as validation that the tide had turned in their fight to preserve white culture.
“It’s been an awakening,” Richard B. Spencer, who is credited with coining the term alt-right, said at the gathering on Saturday. “This is what a successful movement looks like.”
Muslims, blacks, and gays are understandably fearful of how a Trump Administration could destroy the hard-won civil liberties that are the foundation of the American dream. And Trump does not give a damn — he continues to load his administration with racists, climate-science deniers, and bankers who want to scrap the Dodd-Frank Act so the banks can destroy the economy again. The counterfactual revolution is well underway as science becomes a liberal conspiracy and the past can be rewritten according to the political needs of the day, with a fact-challenged president-elect who is the worst liar we’ve ever seen in politics. And it has become a matter of “debate” whether American values support a Muslim registry and possible internment.
Good job, Southerners. Since we couldn’t rid ourselves of our worst qualities, we’ve caught up to the rest of the country by dragging the Midwest and much of the western United States down to our level.
America is following the example of Alabama? Really? You can’t make this shit up.