While Harris was asking questions of Sessions that required a simple yes or no response, the attorney general tried to chat his way out of the questions and also reduce the few minutes of time Harris was allotted to speak. Sessions’ actions, though a bit irritating, were not unusual, as many in similar situations have used the same stall tactic.
What was unusual, however, was the level of disrespect shown to Harris, a woman of color. Sessions interrupted her, saying if he weren’t allowed to qualify his responses, Harris would call him a liar. He also openly laughed after Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, interrupted her as she spoke.
Harris was disrespected because she is a woman and a person of color. I also think Sessions and McCain hoped their actions would evoke a stereotypical response from Harris — perhaps the rolling of her neck or eyes, or even a response in an angry tone. Whatever spirit or adverse response Sessions and McCain hoped to get out of Harris didn’t happen. The female senator was well-informed, asked appropriate questions and maintained her professionalism.
It is interesting how perspectives change based on who is sitting in the hot seat. While some find gratification in considering Harris’ actions disrespectful or inappropriate, others like me believe Sessions and McCain were completely out of order.
It is important to note that Harris was the only senator interrupted while questioning Sessions.
Sexism and racism are harsh realities in today’s society, and the actions demonstrated toward Harris were reflective of both. If she were a white male, she would be praised for her tough questions and no-nonsense demeanor. But because she is a Black female, many in the mainstream are condemning her. McCain tried to silence her, and Sessions disrespected her when he openly laughed in her face.
Last week, I began my editorial with this sentence: “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
The same rings true relative to the disregard of Sen. Kamala Harris. Despite being the only Black woman in the Senate and one of very few female senators — both tremendous accomplishments — she was still treated in a substandard manner.
I often find myself wondering if things will truly ever change for the better. Depending on the day and my level of optimism, my answer is often yes. However, the realist in me knows better. In the near future, things more than likely will not improve. We will continue to witness the disrespect and degradation. We will continue to see the ugliest sides of people — both politicians who are in positions to lead us, and everyday people.
Indeed, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Earlier this week in Virginia, an Illinois man used dozens of rounds of ammunition from a semi-automatic weapon to shoot at Republican congressional members, staffers and security personnel who were practicing for an upcoming charity baseball game.
The actions of the shooter were both cowardly and alarming — no one should be subjected to such acts of violence. However, the behavior of the gunman underscores the necessity to have better gun control laws. For years, Republicans have been against more effective gun control laws. Since Republicans were the targets (House Whip Sen. Steve Scalise was among those injured by the gunfire), I wonder if their positions on the controversial topic will change.
It will be interesting to see how the gun debate is waged in the future.