Many outstanding points here, not surprisingly, considering the writer (a man for whom I, and so many others, have tremendous respect). Many of these points, however, are extremely difficult to discuss today because of surprisingly rigid "guidelines" that so narrowly confine the public discussion.
Doesn't Sessions' own record of racism define his character? As for referring to Sen. Warren pointing to Session's record of racism as an "attack," even though she only shone a light on the record of facts, this seems to have become the norm. Rather than address the issues, they block out any discussion by referring to it as an "attack."
"We need to have a grown-up conversation about race in America." Is this possible today? Racial tensions have increased in recent years. I'd ask how such a discussion would sound. For years, the race discussion has been severely constrained, and it can be unwise to try to expand the discussion beyond those constraints -- all of which makes actual communication/the exchange of ideas impossible.