On Wednesday, Republican Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama used a local radio appearance to insist mounting criticism of Republican President-elect Donald Trump's pick for U.S. attorney general, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, is part of a larger "war on whites."
"It's really about political power and racial division and what I've referred to on occasion as the 'war on whites,'" Brooks said on The Morning Show With Toni & Gary on WBHP 800 Alabama, CNN reported. "They are trying to motivate the African-American vote to vote-bloc for Democrats by using every 'Republican is a racist' tool that they can envision."
"Even if they have to lie about it," he added.
Brooks has trotted out the "war on whites" line to hit Democrats, including President Barack Obama, since at least as early as 2014. This time, however, he's speaking out in defense of an attorney general nominee who was once rejected for a federal judiciary appointment over allegations of rank racism, and who civil rights group the American Civil Liberties Union finds so odious it has broken its historic policy of neutrality during Cabinet appointments.
Sessions himself has tried to turn the topic from his record of fighting black voter registration groups with criminal charges, support for overturning the Voting Rights Act and opposition to black judicial nominees, among other issues, by calling accusations of racism "very painful."
That may be so, but Sessions' allegedly hurt feelings are irrelevant to whether or not concerns over his nomination are backed up by his actual record on the issues. As attorney general, Sessions would oversee the nation's federal law enforcement apparatus as well as the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division — institutions that, through action or inaction, could make the U.S. feel like a war zone for minority Americans.
As for Brooks, the phrase "war on whites" seems suspiciously similar to the sort of rhetoric found among right-wing extremist and white supremacist groups — like "white genocide," the mythical but fanatically held notion among many racists that nonwhites are conspiring to wipe out European bloodlines. With the rise of Trump and his racially hostile brand of white identity politics, it certainly doesn't seem like a coincidence that hate-group-tracking nonprofit the Southern Poverty Law Center measured a significant rise in hate activity across the U.S. in 2016.
Brooks might also want to reconsider whether implying blacks in the U.S. tend to vote for Democrats because they are so easily duped is really going to improve his party's tortured relationship with black voters. Hint: It's probably going to do the exact opposite.