There is a particularly virulent and dangerous type of white-right racist out there, who plays the white-victim game.
This type of racist is set to destroy much of Civil Rights in the country and further establish the New Jim Crow under chief racist Jeff Sessions.
The white-victim game works like this. The biggest kid in elementary school is the schoolyard bully. A Martial Arts studio opens up in the town, and some of the other kids, tired of being beat up, begin to take classes. Afraid some of his victims might be able to defend themselves, he goes to his Dad, who sits on the City Council, and convinces him to pass a law making Martial Arts studios illegal in the town because “they encourage violence”.
The white-right racist victimrat plays this game. During the Bush administration these people were put in charge of destroying the DOJ’s Civil Rights division. They spent 8 years searching for that elusive instance where a white person had been discriminated against by a minority, nearly ignoring the more than 20,000 cases a year referred to them. In years, they found exactly 1 case. During this entire time denying the existence of racism against blacks and minorities.
The DOJ under Sessions may as well be the KKK. They are becoming the enemy of the entire country.
The same way Bush did: by politicizing the DOJ.
If you talk to people who worked in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division during the George W. Bush administration about their old jobs, you might hear one of two stories. Each can be viewed as a possible prelude to what the DOJ’s “crown jewel” division is poised to go through now that Donald Trump is president and Jeff Sessions is attorney general.
The first story takes place in Ohio during the lead-up to the 2004 election, when local officials were sued over a Republican plan to send thousands of “voter challengers” to polling places in predominantly black districts. The practice, putatively aimed at identifying ineligible voters, stemmed from a controversial Ohio law that civil rights advocates considered a vestige of Jim Crow.
One person who didn’t see it that way was Alex Acosta, the head of the Civil Rights Division at the time and now Trump’s nominee for secretary of labor. Less than a week before Election Day, Acosta wrote a letter to the judge overseeing the Ohio case to express his support for the “challenger” law and to argue that its purpose was to create a “balance between ballot access and ballot integrity”—not to intimidate voters.
The surprising thing about Acosta’s letter was that no one had asked for the DOJ’s opinion. The federal government was not party to the Ohio case, and Acosta was under no obligation to comment on it; in fact, he was defying a long-standing Civil Rights Division norm by taking action on a voting issue so close to an upcoming election. The “challengers” were ultimately allowed to go to the polls. Among liberals, the episode went down as a defining example of how zealous and brazen Bush-era political appointees could be in pursuing a partisan agenda.
The second story you might hear from alumni of Bush’s Civil Rights Division concerns a litigator named David Becker, who had been working in the voting section since the tail end of the Clinton administration. In 2005, Becker decided to quit—but not before getting involved in a DOJ lawsuit that accused the city of Boston of “improperly influencing, coercing, or ignoring the ballot choices of limited-English-proficient Hispanic or Asian-American voters.”
Becker, who had years of experience helping jurisdictions make their elections accessible to minority language–speakers, believed that Republicans in the Justice Department were pursuing the lawsuit for political reasons. In a series of letters to Boston officials, Becker asserted that the case was “largely without legal merit” and was being brought, in part, because Boston had voted Democratic in the 2004 election. Though he was still working for DOJ when he first reached out to city officials, Becker offered to help them fight against the government when he left.
The Becker story is not particularly well-known. But for some conservatives, it remains a galling example of the kind of treachery that Bush’s team encountered from career civil rights staff when Republicans took over the division in 2001. Bradley Schlozman, who worked in the “front office” of Civil Rights from 2003 until 2006 and was despised by many of the former career lawyers I spoke with, recently brought it up to illustrate what he called the “extraordinary unprofessionalism” he encountered in the division as a Bush appointee.“In my opinion, these were extremely partisan attorneys who had difficulty separating their political views from their obligations to their client: the United States,” Schlozman told me.
These two stories—both of them, as it happens, about letters that probably shouldn’t have been sent—serve as a reminder of the destructive, politically polarized rancor that plagued the Bush-era Civil Rights Division. Remembered by many DOJ alums as a traumatic and humiliating low point in the division’s history, the period was marked by an unprecedented level of hostility and mutual distrust between career attorneys and the “politicals” who supervised them.
“As time went on, it became more and more abrasive and overbearing,” said Albert Moskowitz, who oversaw the criminal section of the Civil Rights Division between 1999 and 2005. Particularly during Bush’s second term, he said, “People were abused and treated terribly, and there was just no one to tell and no place to go.”
At the heart of the rift was a fundamental misalignment of goals. As one lawyer hired into the Civil Rights Division under Bush, J. Christian Adams,described it in his 2011 polemic on the Obama-era DOJ, the conflict was part of “a larger war between two camps”: “militant leftists” who believed “civil rights laws do not protect everyone equally, but only certain ‘oppressed’ minorities,” and conservatives “who support a race-blind future.”
To frame it in a slightly less bellicose way, most attorneys who joined the Civil Rights Division before the Bush administration did so because they wanted to help the federal government challenge policies that discriminated against historically marginalized groups. The conservatives in charge under Bush, by contrast, were generally skeptical of federal intervention and believed in devoting more of the division’s resources to investigating things like voter fraud and human trafficking. In applying what they called a “race-neutral” approach to enforcement, they also made a point of bringing civil rights cases on behalf of white victims.
“Even attorneys who had served the division through the Reagan years and the [George H.W.] Bush years found it unbearable,” said Kristen Clarke, who started in the division a few months before Bush took office and now leads the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
Nearly a decade since Bush left office, Trump and Sessions have started making their own moves to transform the DOJ and reorient the Civil Rights Division in particular to fit with their agenda. As we look for clues about how far they’ll go, the turbulent 2000s are a reminder of just how bad it can get, and how a new political team might go about pushing the division’s long-serving career attorneys out of the way.
So far, those attorneys haven’t even been told who their new boss will be, as Trump has not yet nominated anyone to the post. In the meantime, looking back on the Bush years is a way of putting down markers—an exercise in bracing oneself and establishing a worst-case precedent against which to measure the next four years.
If they deny you your legal right to vote…Its time to “Stand Your Ground”. The Ballot…Or the bullet.