Given the big news news about Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his role in Donald Trump’s Russian influence scandal, you may have missed this long, but important story from the New York Times.
The Times’ piece “Department of Justification” tells how Sessions, who was already a hero to hate groups on the anti-immigrant fringe, colluded with Steve Bannon and Breitbart.com to stifle immigration reform legislation and set the stage for Trump’s bigoted candidacy. Former Sessions aide Stephen Miller, now Trump’s chief policy strategist and Bannon’s right hand in the White House, was a key figure from the beginning.
As reporter Emily Bazelton explains, this is all important backstory for understanding how the Trump administration is transforming the Department of Justice into an instrument of white supremacy, thus forestalling the future demographic threat of a nonwhite majority in America (#whitegenocide, in the hyperventilating parlance of the alt-right).
Their shared view was central to Trump’s Inaugural Address, which, according to The Wall Street Journal, Bannon and Miller principally wrote. For a president taking office amid peacetime and economic growth, the speech offered a singularly dark vision. Trump spoke of “American carnage” — a country made increasingly dangerous by “the crime and the gangs and the drugs,” its economy ravaged by production abroad, its borders infiltrated by marauders. The speech was a perfect distillation of the foreboding view of America broadcast by Breitbart — a land in disarray and decline that has reached the point of crisis.
[…] Why would the Trump administration paint a picture so starkly at odds with reality? It’s simple: A vision of the nation besieged provides clear justification for policies that will advance Sessions, Bannon and Miller’s divisive nationalism. In the administration’s early moves, we can already see the contours beginning to take shape. An executive order presented as an emergency measure to protect the country from terrorists winds up barring immigrants coming here to study or work from seven countries that have not been a source of terrorist attacks in the United States since Sept. 11. Another order refers to immigrants who “pose a risk to public safety” and then makes millions of the undocumented people in the country a priority for deportation. Impending catastrophe grants the president broad powers, and those powers are used broadly.
Basically, they want to deny voting rights for nonwhite Americans, set harsh policies to deter or deport as many nonwhite potential citizens as possible, turn a blind eye to racist policing, and fill new for-profit prisons with as many nonwhites as they can grab off the street, all to prevent a day of reckoning.
These are all areas where Sessions gets to have a direct role as AG, which is why he coveted the office.
Given enough time to enact their full agenda, the Trump administration would reverse the Civil Rights Era. “With an exaggerated threat of disorder looming,” Bazelton writes, “the nation’s top law-enforcement agency could become a machine for trying to fundamentally change who gets to be an American and what rights they can enjoy.”