LGBT Amer­i­cans fac­ing the winds of Dixie

GA Voice - - Georgianews -

“I’ll bet the lil’ coun­try boy who grew up in Selma, who was a teenager when Ge­orge Wal­lace launched his holy war against racial equal­ity, who at­tended Univer­sity of Alabama’s law school dur­ing in­te­gra­tion, never imag­ined that he would have to ef­fu­sively praise the ne­gro trou­ble­maker from At­lanta.”

Op­por­tu­nity and pos­si­bil­ity are of­ten as­so­ci­ated with the fu­ture and what is to come, but the past is filled with just as many chances to achieve great­ness or grow into a bet­ter per­son. A few years ago, Pizza Hut aired an ad cam­paign that au­da­ciously de­clared the chain was cel­e­brat­ing 20 years of on­line or­ders, fore­shad­ow­ing a com­ing storm of sus­pi­cious claims about who did what at the start of the in­ter­net.

There may have been a beta test or­der that was never de­liv­ered to a phys­i­cal ad­dress in 1994, but any­one so­phis­ti­cated enough to be en­gag­ing in e-com­merce back then wouldn’t be dumb enough to wait the hours it must’ve taken to com­plete the process, know­ing the tech­nol­ogy avail­able at the time. Sorry, Pizza Hut – like your greasy pan pizza, I ain’t buy­ing it.

In a more se­ri­ous in­stance of re­vi­sion­ist his­tory, U.S. At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jef­fer­son Beau­re­gard Ses­sions re­cently spoke to a syn­di­cate of anti-LGBT groups led by the Al­liance De­fend­ing Free­dom, where he promised his of­fice would soon re­lease “re­li­gious lib­erty” guide­lines that will of­fer le­gal cover for any­one who wants to dis­crim­i­nate against LGBT Amer­i­cans. Ses­sions’ speech was en­tirely pre­dictable, ex­cept for two words that jumped out at me when he was trac­ing the role religion has played in the de­vel­op­ment of our na­tion’s char­ac­ter.

“And of course it was faith that in­spired Martin Luther King Jr. to march and strive to make this coun­try stronger yet,” Ses­sions said, ac­cord­ing to a tran­script of the speech that his of­fice ini­tially re­sisted mak­ing pub­lic. “His was a re­li­gious move­ment. The faith that truth would over­come.”

Of course. The big­gest miss dur­ing Ses­sions’s con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings ear­lier this year was the fail­ure of Democrats to ask the thense­n­a­tor from Alabama an ob­vi­ous ques­tion: When did you stop be­ing a racist?

This is a man who was born in 1946 in the heart of Dixie, to par­ents who named him af­ter two Con­fed­er­ate icons, sug­gest­ing his house­hold was, um, un­re­con­structed on mat­ters of race. How did some­one whose in­tro­duc­tion to our so­ci­ety and laws in­cluded Jim Crow and the ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings of black peo­ple evolve into some­one – into a white South­ern con­ser­va­tive – who gen­uinely be­lieves the law pro­tects, and pun­ishes, ev­ery­one equally?

I’ll bet the lil’ coun­try boy who grew up in Selma, who was a teenager when Ge­orge Wal­lace launched his holy war against racial equal­ity, who at­tended Univer­sity of Alabama’s law school dur­ing in­te­gra­tion, never imag­ined that he would have to ef­fu­sively praise the ne­gro trou­ble­maker from At­lanta. And I won­der how much spin­ning took place in the seg­re­gated grave­yards of Selma when Ses­sions ut­tered the words “of course,” as if it were ob­vi­ous to ev­ery­body and they mama that God was on King’s side.

But Ses­sions’ po­lit­i­cally cor­rect es­teem for MLK hasn’t pre­vented him from try­ing to res­cue the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem that re­placed Jim Crow, namely by es­ca­lat­ing the War on Drugs and re­in­stat­ing poli­cies that make in­car­cer­a­tion ob­scenely prof­itable for pri­vate com­pa­nies. He has like­wise made state­ments that were puzzingly sup­port­ive of LGBT rights, right be­fore he promised that “the fed­eral gov­ern­ment will ac­tively find ways to ac­com­mo­date peo­ple of all faiths.”

The irony of a son and descen­dant of two sep­a­rate states’ rights up­ris­ings vow­ing that Wash­ing­ton D.C., is dash­ing to the res­cue. The ideas that Ses­sions pro­motes are as wrong as those of his name­sakes and his child­hood neigh­bors, and they will as surely be de­feated. Ryan Lee is an At­lanta writer.

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