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Friday, April 21, 2017


Jeff Sessions' so-called Americans

by Tom Sullivan

Hawaii from space. Image: NASA.

It's a nasty habit. One that dies hard. For some, maybe never. Call it racism, sexism, classism, regionalism, whatever, it's that conviction that me and mine are superior to Them, the Lessers du jour. A recent presidential candidate built a campaign around it. He hired an attorney general who was once denied a federal judgeship because of it.

Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions said this on "The Mark Levin Show" Tuesday about President Trump's problems with getting his Muslim ban past federal courts (via CNN), emphasis mine):
"We've got cases moving in the very, very liberal Ninth Circuit, who, they've been hostile to the order," Sessions said. "We won a case in Virginia recently that was a nicely-written order that just demolished, I thought, all the arguments that some of the other people have been making. We are confident that the President will prevail on appeal and particularly in the Supreme Court, if not the Ninth Circuit. So this is a huge matter. I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the President of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and Constitutional power."

Last month, a federal judge in Hawaii, Judge Derrick Watson, issued an order that blocked Trump's ban on travelers from several Muslim-majority countries. The Department of Justice is currently appealing the decision.
Dahlia Lithwick has some words for the nation's top law enforcement official:
To put that another way, not only is Hawaii not an actual state, according to the chief law enforcement officer of the United States, but Judge Derrick Watson, the federal judge from Hawaii who put his travel ban on hold, is not an actual federal judge. The soft bigotry of soft bigotry marches ever onward.

Perhaps this shouldn’t surprise us. Remember when Trump almost managed to derail his candidacy as the most racist presidential aspirant in history by calling an American-born judge of Mexican heritage a “hater” and a “Mexican” unfit by race to oversee his Trump University lawsuit? Remember when candidate Trump warned that “They ought to look into Judge Curiel,” and Paul Ryan called this the “textbook definition of racist comments”? (Curiel, by the way, will now oversee the appeal over the first deportation of a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals–protected “Dreamer” deported to Mexico. The case, which was randomly assigned to Curiel, comes after Trump and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly promised that the administration would not deport anyone with an active DACA status.)

Remember when Trump called the Seattle Republican appointee who upheld an injunction on his first attempt at an immigration ban a “so-called judge”? Remember when that judge needed increased security detail to protect him against the death threats?
The Las Vegas Sun, Lithwick reminds readers, once observed that Hawaii's admission to the union in 1959 faced questions from then-Democratic Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina of whether Hawaiians "lacked the Western thought processes needed to withstand communism."

Citizenship is one thing. It has a legal definition. But it never ceases to amaze me how people who decry as un-American special status for others (or is that Others?) have no trouble assuming special status for themselves based on being born to a specific region, as though being native-born to [your state or region here] comes with magical properties and special status unavailable to lesser-than in-migrants born in this country or elsewhere. Privilege by skin color? Same thing only worse.

"Nobody doubts for even one second that it’s 1959 every single day in Sessions’ brain," Lithwick writes.

But okay, let's play that game. My home state was admitted to the union before yours, Jeff, and never joined in treasonous rebellion against the United States of America. I'm really am amazed that someone from your so-called state in the middle of the Old Confederacy even gets to be Attorney General of the United States.