It is shocking to learn that Condoleezza Rice has endorsed Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions for US Attorney General. The former Secretary of State’s decision to support Sessions is incongruous and bizarre, to say the least, especially given Rice’s personal, childhood history with racism and racial violence. Here’s some background.
For starters, Sessions has a troubling history of racial insensitivity—a history that prevented him from being confirmed for a federal judgeship in 1986.
Specifically, according to Reuters:
The Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony during hearings, in March and May 1986, that Sessions had made racist remarks and called the NAACP and ACLU “un-American.” [Read the Washington Post’s fact-check of these allegations here.]
Thomas Figures, a black assistant US attorney who worked for Sessions, testified that Sessions called him “boy” on multiple occasions and joked about the Ku Klux Klan, saying that he thought Klan members were “OK, until he learned that they smoked marijuana.”
More recently, writing on behalf of 200 campaign groups, the Leadership Conference on Human Rights said, with regard to Sessions’ nomination for Attorney General in the Trump administration:
Senator Sessions has a 30-year record of racial insensitivity, bias against immigrants, disregard for the rule of law and hostility to the protection of civil rights that makes him unfit to serve as the attorney general of the United States.
In addition, the Southern Poverty Law Center recently issued this statement:
We cannot support his nomination to be the country’s next attorney general. Senator Sessions not only has been a leading opponent of sensible, comprehensive immigration reform, he has associated with anti-immigrant groups we consider to be deeply racist, including the Federation for American Immigration Reform and the Center for Security Policy. If our country is to move forward, we must put all forms of racism behind us.
And if all of that history isn’t reason enough for Rice to at least abstain from speaking out for Sessions, consider this:
Condoleeza Rice was 8 years old when, in her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, an infamous church bombing killed four young girls, one of whom was a friend of hers. In an article published in 2013, Rice recalled that the bombing was life-changing for her, destroying her sense of safety and security.
One outcome of the bombing was the deaths of four young girls at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan members “garnered national support for passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”
The Civil Rights Act of 1964, in turn, led to passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. And Senator Sessions has a very poor record with regard to voting rights.
According to Huffington Post,
Sessions has called the Voting Rights Act “a piece of intrusive legislation” and applauded the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision to gut the law’s key Section 5. As the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Alabama in the 1980s, he led a failed prosecution of three civil rights activists who conducted a voter registration drive.
The Voting Rights Act is “one of the country’s most critical pieces of civil and voting rights legislation,” said Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn, yet Sessions would put it on the “chopping block.”
“His past statements and actions indicate that if confirmed as attorney general he would fail to fully uphold the Voting Rights Act as it stands today,”
And that’s why I’m shocked. Apparently, Condoleezza Rice has decided that it’s more important to be a loyal, fall-in-line Republican and support Sessions than it is to stand up for what’s right, or be true to her own history.