On CBS, NAACP Legal Defense Fund president calls out Congress for failing to fight white supremacy with policies

Sherrilyn Ifill: “When we see state legislatures convening to pass voter suppression laws, that is white supremacy”

From the August 20 edition of CBS' Face the Nation:

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JOHN DICKERSON (HOST): Sherrilyn, let's talk about the -- about Congress, about the response to this. There's been a lot of commentary, but what do you look for next in terms of matching public action with the sentiment that has come out in response to Charlottesville? 

SHERRILYN IFILL: Well, I think this is really important, and I hope it doesn't get lost because I think there's a powerful role for journalists like Elle and the extraordinary film that she made and the extraordinary work of Christian. But there are also policy decisions that we should be expecting our leaders to make to deal with white supremacy. The United States Congress just a few weeks ago, by a vote of 51 to 42, approved a judge for the federal appellate court of appeals who ran a right-wing blog and regularly linked to birther articles and articles from white nationalists websites. Congress knew this. They’re supposed to be looking at these judicial nominees and making sure that these judicial nominees are in the mainstream and are not extremists. The grant that Christian just talked about, the cabinet of the president and the coterie surrounding him, Sebastian Gorka and others. This is Congress' job to vigorously look during the confirmation process at each and every one of these individuals and to make sure that they don't have these kinds of connections.

And finally, here is the tough part, Congress has to deal with and state legislatures have to deal with the reality of white supremacy in their own policies. Sebastian Gorka said two weeks ago that there is no real white supremacy. White supremacy is individuals denying the civil rights of others. Well, we've had two federal judges just in the last year -- two federal courts in the last year – identify two state legislatures, Texas and North Carolina, that those federal courts said deliberately created voter ID laws for the purpose of discriminating against African-American and Latino voters. When we see that, when we see state legislatures convening to pass voter suppression laws, that is white supremacy. That is an effort to try and deny the civil rights of African-Americans and Latinos. So, if this is a moment for honesty, if this is a moment where America is prepared to confront itself, it has to confront the reality of violent white extremists who are out  and who are broken and who are marching in the streets. But we also have to recognize the role that we play and that elected leaders play in setting policies that further white supremacism for the purpose of their own political gain. And my hope is that Congress and that governors and that state legislatures will be prepared in this moment to take on the responsibility themselves of demonstrating that they want no traffic with white supremacy. 


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