I am a member of the Alabama “liberal” media, or so I am told, so I guess I am supposed to write a column on how Sen. Jeff Sessions is a big, fat racist.
But I am not going to do that, because I do not know that to be the case.
If I had known this I would have written a column (probably many columns) sometime during the 20 years he has served as our U.S. Senator. I wasn’t saving one up on the off chance a man I thought would never, ever, ever be our president was somehow magically elected and then chose our senator to serve as Attorney General. Crazy thing, though — that’s exactly what happened.
An alien invasion must be next.
Sure, I had heard the reports of Sessions saying some things — some he denied, some he apologized for or said were taken out of context — that prevented him from getting a federal judgeship in the ‘80s. But the time all of this allegedly went down, I was in elementary school. And I have not heard any such reports since in the decades he has been in the public arena.
Now I will say, if I were to write a novel and needed a “rich racist” character name, Jefferson Beauregard III would definitely be on my short list. Bobby Earl, Dwain and Bunky would play the role of “poor racists.” But now this novel already sounds like a cliché, so I am just going to write this column instead. But, Sessions would probably have an easier time with the East Coast media elite if his name were Doug, Todd or Lance.
A guy named Lance can do no wrong, right?
This is not a column meant to defend or defile Sen. Sessions. He has supporters and detractors making the case for and against him. And I am listening to both sides, especially to the folks who actually know and/or knew him. Yes, there were words that were disturbing to hear he said. But there were also actions that seem contrary to this narrative.
The fact he prosecuted and got the death penalty for the Klansman who killed Michael Donald — a case that tore the heart out of this city — is significant. And that case is credited with putting the Klan out of business in Alabama, which I think we can all agree was a great, great accomplishment.
Most things and people aren’t so absolute. I have yet to personally shake the hand of a devil or an angel.
This is a column designed to remind everyone to not be so quick to judge people — even if you disagree with them on some things. And to give them the benefit of the doubt before labeling them something that just may not be the case.
I am absolutely beyond fatigued by all the -ist-ing and the -phobe-ing this election has produced. Everyone apparently is a racist, a sexist, a misogynist, a nationalist, an apologist, a xenophobe or a homophobe. I can’t even keep up with which ones are supposed to be which anymore.
We live in a big country, there are millions of people and many of them do indeed suck. But many more do not. And we use terms so loosely to label people these days, it’s making it hard to determine who actually deserves these designations.
Ironically, I feel like the quest of this generation to prove that we are the most tolerant Americans ever has made us some of the most intolerant.
If someone doesn’t agree with us (or our politics) completely or tries to challenge our beliefs or have a thoughtful discussion on an issue, they are deemed whatever “-ist” their particular “judge” decides and written off with some clever hashtag as a terrible person. An announcement on Facebook and Twitter will be forthcoming and will declare them completely unacceptable and irredeemable. And this happens on both sides of the political spectrum.
Again, I am not saying there aren’t awful people out there. Sadly there are.
The horrible images of people spray-painting swastikas on churches, or screaming “heil Trump” in a hotel ballroom like it’s as normal as attending an Amway convention, or vandalizing mosques or the cars of Muslim Americans is scary and breaks my heart.
But some are lumping good people with whom they simply disagree on policy in with these vile creatures. And that’s not fair and will only serve to deepen the divide in our country.
I think it is time for us all to stop screaming and start listening.
This Thanksgiving, if politics come up (and I am sure they will) and you find yourself wanting to throw up your turkey in your mouth a little when your conservative uncle starts on one of his rants, or wanting to roll your eyes at everything your liberal cousin has to say, listen to their points of view. You don’t have to agree with them, but you don’t have to hate them more than that disgusting Jell-O mold thing with nuts your grandmother always makes and you feel obligated to eat. And you may be able to at least start to understand where they are coming from.
Remember, we are all in this together and I do think we all just want a better country. We just disagree on the ways to get there. And that’s OK.
Let’s keep open minds and open hearts and not judge each other so quickly.
Besides, there are more things to disagree on in this great state over Thanksgiving dinner than politics. Roll Tide! War Eagle! Happy Turkey Day!
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.
It looks like you are opening this page from the Facebook App. This article needs to be opened in the browser.
iOS: Tap the three dots in the top right, then tap on "Open in Safari".
Android: Tap the Settings icon (it looks like three horizontal lines), then tap App Settings, then toggle the "Open links externally" setting to On (it should turn from gray to blue).