When a Sign of Hard-Won Progress is also an Act of Stunning Hypocrisy
On Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke at the opening of an unusual Department of Justice Hate Crimes Summit. The event was unusual for bringing leading advocates for communities of color, immigrants, religious minorities, and LGBT people — including NCTE — together with Trump Administration officials who have dedicated much of their energy to rolling back policies protecting the lives and well-being of those same communities.
Civil rights advocates came with lists of specific recommendations for the Justice Department, but also with a strong, united message: you cannot combat hate crimes without combating hate. Advocates sat politely through Sessions’s speech, many wearing “NO MUSLIM BAN” stickers in silent protest.
Most of Sessions’s speech might have come from any attorney general, and might in large part have drawn applause from advocates. But coming from this particular attorney general, they were hard to take. Even Sessions’s headline-grabbing promise to investigate attacks against transgender people sat uncomfortably beside his lifelong and continuing record of hostility toward LGBT Americans. To be sure, his words were a reflection of years of demands for recognition and justice from transgender people and their loved ones. And yet, again and again, Sessions’s words at the summit were also stunning for their moral hypocrisy.