“I’m just gonna tell you: This is stupid. This is not right,” Sessions said at one point, according to tweets posted by Northwestern student journalists. “This great university … should not be putting up [with] this kind of trash.”
“I’m just gonna tell you: This is stupid. This is not right. This great university … should not be putting up [with] this kind of trash.”
— Jeff Sessions, former U.S. attorney general
Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. (Associated Press)
Numerous appearances by conservative speakers on the nation’s college campuses have been disrupted or postponed in recent years amid what’s come to be called “cancel culture” – the efforts by some groups to silence any speakers with whom they disagree.
Sessions’ speech, titled “The Real Meaning of the Trump Agenda,” was sponsored by Northwestern’s College Republicans, whose decision to invite the former Trump Cabinet member was debated on campus for weeks.
Nevertheless, an informal poll taken Monday by campus publication North by Northwestern found that 90 percent of respondents thought Sessions should be allowed to speak on campus.
But one student, identified as Zachery Novicoff, said he didn’t believe Sessions should be welcome.
“There’s a limitation to free speech,” Novicoff told the publication. “That ends at overtly racist old white dudes.”
“There’s a limitation to free speech. That ends at overtly racist old white dudes.”
— Zachery Novicoff, Northwestern University student
Prior to Tuesday’s event, protesters gathered outside the building, with signs such as “Sessions is a Traitor.”
Sessions, 72, represented Alabama in the U.S. Senate for two decades before being tapped by President Trump in 2017 to head the U.S. Justice Department as attorney general.
Although Sessions was an early supporter of Trump’s presidential campaign, their relationship soured when Sessions decided to recuse himself from the investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Sessions also became a lightning rod for criticism after implementing a “zero-tolerance” policy on immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border that led to widely criticized family separations. The policy was later rescinded.
Sessions ultimately resigned as attorney general last November and is said to be considering a run for a return to the U.S. Senate next year – although reportedly without the blessing of President Trump.
Earlier Tuesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., sounded unconvinced that a Senate run would be a good idea for Sessions.
“Well, I like Jeff. I thought he was a great senator,” Graham told reporters. “But the whole campaign will be about what Trump said about Sessions. And I can just imagine that can be kind of ugly.”