New Jersey Senator Cory Booker broke Senate tradition on Wednesday, by testifying against his colleague, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general. Booker used highfalutin liberal language about civil rights, all the while twisting a famous quote from civil rights champion Martin Luther King Jr.
Indeed, Booker explicitly subverted one of King’s most famous quotes. “The arc of the moral universe does not just naturally curve towards justice, we must bend it,” Booker declared. “If one is to be attorney general, they must be willing to continue the hallowed tradition in our country of fighting for justice for all, for equal justice, for civil rights. America needs an attorney general who is resolute and determined to bend that arc.”
Booker’s argument hinged on the claim that “Senator Sessions’ record does not speak to that desire, intention, or will.” Sessions will not force “the arc of the moral universe” to “curve towards justice.” But this is exactly the opposite of Martin Luther King Jr.’s original point.
In his sermon at the Temple Israel of Hollywood in 1965, King warned against indifference and violence, and he declared his firm belief that “right here in America we will reach the promised land of brotherhood.” He expressed his faith that the Civil Rights movement would prevail against segregation because “somehow the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”
Martin Luther King believed that God would rescue black people in America from the evil of segregation, and his belief was gloriously vindicated. But he believed that because the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice — not because he labored under the delusion that his movement would bend that arc toward justice.
Booker declared exactly the opposite. “The arc of the moral universe does not just naturally curve towards justice, we must bend it,” the black Democratic senator declared. King would have denounced this as heresy. It is God, not people — and certainly not political movements — who bends the arc of the moral universe. To suggest that a human being — even an august attorney general — could bend that arc is to confuse the human with the divine.
Furthermore, if Booker is right and the arc of the moral universe does not naturally curve towards justice, there is no hope for any civil rights movement, and King’s speech ends in tragedy.
Beyond this heresy and fundamental reversal of the great Civil Rights leader, Booker attacked Sessions, saying that he could not be counted on to “pursue justice for women,” for “gay and lesbian and transgender Americans,” for “voting rights,” or for “the rights of immigrants and … their human dignity.” Indeed, Booker argued that Sessions’ record indicates that as attorney general, he would “refuse to confront” the “challenges of race in America.”
On Monday, a group of black pastors vehemently shot back against such accusations, fervently supporting Sessions’ nomination.
“Now allegations have been made that Senator Sessions is a racist; however, an examination of his record proves otherwise,” declared Rev. Ralph Chittams of the Forestville New Redeemer Baptist Church in Maryland, at an event endorsing Sessions on Monday. Chittams pointed out that, as a U.S. attorney for the state of Alabama, Sessions prosecuted Klansmen Henry Francis Hayes, and insisted that the trial be a capital murder trial. Due to Sessions’ work, this notorious member of the Klu Klux Klan was sentenced and executed, and a civil judgment of $7 million was entered against the Alabama KKK, “which effectively bankrupted them.”
As for Booker’s claim that Sessions would oppose “voting rights,” the African-American pastors denounced the “voter ID” issue as “racist.”
“I think for any individual, as a black man, to tell me that black people can’t go get an ID just like white people can — see, once again, when you say voter ID, it’s not that they are concerned about poor, educated white people, it’s poor, uneducated black people,” Alabama pastor Rev. William Green told PJ Media in a statement after the event. “So what I’m saying, to even imply that is racist to me, is racist in itself.”
The idea that Senator Sessions, who insisted on the death penalty for a member of the KKK and helped to bankrupt the organization in Alabama, is racist because he does not oppose voter ID laws, is fatuous and makes a mockery of the very name of “civil rights.”
Booker should be ashamed of himself, not just for twisting the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., but for saying Senator Sessions is opposed to civil rights. If indeed the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice, Booker’s empty arguments will fall on deaf ears.
Watch Booker’s entire testimony below.