By Ed Diokno
A school of thought says that the newly elected President be given a grace period and that we all need to rally around him for the sake of the country … yada, yada.
Both Hillary Clinton and President Obama have urged us to give Trump a chance to be our President. They tell us that the responsibilities of the office will force him to moderate his extreme positions.
In a little less than two weeks after the elections, Donald Trump’s selection of his prospective cabinet clearly shows he is not going to change from the Donald Trump that we saw on the campaign trail – the misogynist, the racist, the bully, the anti-Muslim, the race-baiter.
The selection of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions as the next Attorney General could undo all the gains made in the 1960s – the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, the Immigration Reform Act.
He would also be the frontman for defending the sure-to-come challenges to the implementation of Trump’s campaign promise to deport millions of immigrants and provide the legal reasoning (if any) for a Muslim Registry
In his 1986 confirmation hearing, witnesses testified that Sessions referred to a Black attorney as “boy,” described the Voting Rights Act as “intrusive,” attacked the NAACP and ACLU as “un-American” for “forcing civil rights down the throats of people,” joked that he thought the Ku Klux Klan was OK until he found out they smoked marijuana, and referred to a White attorney who took on voting-rights cases as a “traitor to his race.”
During these same GOP-led hearings, the late Sen. Edward Kennedy explained his nay vote, saying Sessions demonstrated a ‘clear and convincing case to gross insensitivity to the questions of race.’
If Sessions were to become the next U.S. Attorney General, he would be the country’s top law enforcement officer and he would be in charge of enforcing Trump’s views on deporting immigrants or Muslims, provide the legal argument for a Muslim registry and the “stop and frisk” strategy Trump espoused but the courts ruled were unconstitutional because it promoted racial profiling.
“If you have nostalgia for the days when Blacks kept quiet, gays were in the closet, immigrants were invisible and women stayed in the kitchen, Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions is your man,” wrote Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) in a statement. “No Senator has fought harder against the hopes and aspirations of Latinos, immigrants, and people of color than Sen. Sessions. He is a staunch opponent of legal immigration and someone who has blocked every effort to improve, modernize, and humanize our immigration system, which is two or three decades out-of-date. He ran for the Senate because he was deemed by the Senate Judiciary Committee as too racist to serve as a federal judge. He is the kind of person who will set back law enforcement, civil rights, the courts, and increase America’s mass incarceration industry and erase 50 years of progress.”
Among other positions, Sessions opposed the Violence Against Women Act, the repeal of “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” and the expansion of anti-hate legislation to include sexual orientation.
He would do all of this while waving the flag – the Confederate Stars & Bars – that he defended when states and colleges began to remove it from view.
What does Sessions says about his nomination?
“With the support of my Senate colleagues, I will give all my strength to advance the Department’s highest ideals. I enthusiastically embrace President-elect Trump’s vision for ‘one America,’ and his commitment to equal justice under law. I look forward to fulfilling my duties with an unwavering dedication to fairness and impartiality.”
It’s President-elect Trump’s vision that has many scared.
“Another day, another example of how President-elect Trump is filling the most powerful cabinet positions and senior White House posts in his Administration with white nationalists and anti-immigrant zealots,” said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, an immigrant rights organization. “Senator Sessions is the most anti-immigrant Senator in the chamber. He has opposed sensible immigration proposals with incendiary language, consorts with hardline nativist groups and strongly supported the Alabama state immigration law that intentionally forced tens of thousands of Latinos out of the state – before a 2012 Supreme Court decision held such state laws to be unconstitutional.”