People For the American Way

Jeff Sessions Won’t Even Say Racism Exists

News and Analysis

Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, President Trump’s nominee to be attorney general, has submitted responses to written questions from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and some of his answers are eye-popping.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal asked Sessions a series of questions at his confirmation hearing about his close ties to extremist organizations whose founding principles and major policy goals are diametrically opposed to bedrock American principles.  Sessions ducked the questions.  However, Sen. Blumenthal returned to the topic in his written questions, asking Sessions if he agreed with a number of inflammatory quotes from far right allies he has worked with and accepted awards from.

Some of these should have been incredibly easy to answer, yet Sessions avoided taking a position on any of them.

For instance, here are three questions that Blumenthal asked about far-right activist David Horowitz, whom Sessions has repeatedly praised:

  • Do you agree with Horowitz that “there is no credible evidence [that] racism against blacks is still a prevalent and systemic problem”?
  • Do you agree with David Horowitz that Black Lives Matter is “a racist group” and “a roving lynch mob”?
  • Do you agree with Horowitz when he says that the term “people of color” is “a racist phrase designed…to enforce the fascist hierarchy”?

For anyone with an ounce of devotion to the idea of civil rights, the answer to each is a clear “no.”  But Sessions refused to answer.  Here is how he responded to all three questions:

  • I am unfamiliar with that quote. As I testified before the Committee, I am not familiar with everything Mr. Horowitz has ever said. I do not know the context of the quote referenced above, or the full quote, so I do not know what he meant.

You don’t have to be familiar with the context of those quotes to express your own opinions on the prevalence of racism, whether BLM is a lynch mob, or whether the term “people of color” is fascistic.

Yet Sessions just couldn’t bring himself to take a position on those issues.  And the GOP is trying to frame him as a strong supporter of civil rights!

Those non-responses may have been designed to hide the truth, but in fact, they tell us everything a responsible senator needs to know before casting a vote on whether this man should be our nation’s attorney general.