Radley Balko reckons Jeff Sessions is a boob: http://www.theagitator.com/archives/026606.php#026606. I agree with almost everyone Radley says. Sessions is a boob, and he deserves any harsh criticism he gets. However, Radley goes too far when he writes:
“If Sessions is still whining about how Lincoln killed one of his relatives at Antietam, an ancestor who was fighting for the right to keep black people in chains, I don't think it's out of bounds to point out that the guy has a warped sense of what's important, and tends to nurse unhealthy grudges.”
I would be pissed at Lincoln, too, if he killed my ancestor. He did, and I am. I don’t spend as much time as Jeff Sessions talking about it , though. He seems to work it into speeches where it is a completely gratuitous reference as was the case when he spoke about helping Colombia in its drug enforcement efforts. But that said, it is a big deal when a politician is responsible for the death of a kinsman.
I’m still ticked off at Thomas Jefferson because he, as Governor of Virginia, wouldn’t arrange a prisoner exchange for my ancestor Lieutenant Colonel Frederick Warnack when he was captured by Benedict Arnold at the Westham Foundry. And Andrew Jackson had it in for my uncle Colonel Robert Love after my uncle beat him in a horse race. But I reserve the most anger for Lincoln because he killed several of my kinsmen, including my ancestor Benjamin Burgess, and he tried to burn down my hometown. It sticks in your craw, I tell you. It’s not an unhealthy grudge since you can’t ever get revenge on long dead Presidents, and we ought to be reminded of presidential misdeeds to balance out their apotheosis.
Secondly, Radley assumes too much when he attributes to Jonathan Sessions, CSA, killed in action, the motive of protecting the right to enslave black people. It does not appear that the Confederate soldier Sessions had slaves himself, although some members of his family may have had a few slaves (does having only a handful of house servants somehow make it less egregious?). He may well have been motivated by a desire to defend his homeland from Yankee aggression, to preserve the idea of limited government, to impress his friends and family or any other of the multitude of reasons that led men to fight in the War Between the States. Would you say of a soldier in Iraq that he is fighting to enrich oilmen, even if you reckoned the principal focus of the war was to do so? Why piss on the graves of all those Confederate veterans just to make a point about what a wanker Jeff Sessions is?
Even if Sessions never complained about his murdered ancestor, it would still be fair game to call him on comparisons of undocumented workers to slaves. That’s just stupid in all on its own.