Wednesday, November 15, 2017
Ever since Ronald Reagan decided that the abortion issue was a perfect wedge to drive into the heart of the American electorate, heartland American churches have been Republican to the core. The fact that women have always had the leverage of their bodies used against them has been entirely ignored by the American Right. Indeed, for the Southern Baptists it's just a “natural fact.” The fact that abortion is something one can do “at home” is ignored too. In a world where abortion is illegal, a woman, and particularly a young woman, is at the mercy of the company she keeps or happens to find herself with. “You're a young child. I'm the District Attorney. Who's going to believe you.” It's always the girl who gets pregnant. And to add another layer of icing on this cake, the guy can always buy her an abortion, even if abortion is illegal, if the guy has some coin. What's a nice trip to Switzerland worth these days? Or a trip to a doctor in the next town who deals with these problems. Think of the kids and their futures. He was going to law school in Tuscaloosa.
Roe V. Wade put the beginning of the end to this. Not just the illegality of abortion, but probably much more important, the leverage men have over women. In some ways Roe V. Wade is a profoundly important plank in the scaffold of democracy which the United States has been building long-term, since a founding mired in slavery and property rights and a racist colonialism that ignored the folks that already lived here from the very get-go down on Roanoke Island, NC. This is the long arc of history Martin Luther King, Jr. was talking about on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial one steamy August afternoon in 1963. It happened, that fine speech, I'll always be proud I was there.
Roe V. Wade obviously has galled Roy Moore, Jr. The reasons for his interest in very young women are probably a psychological mystery, but as he said to the girl he allegedly tried to rape behind her place of work in 1978, “you're a child.” You have no power. Relax and enjoy it. My guess is, Mrs. Nelson probably had never even heard of Roe V. Wade at that point, and even today is “agin” it, since she and her husband voted, as she testifies, for Trump.
Mr. Moore has been obsessed with Roe V. Wade, most likely because his antenna is finely tuned to the wedge issue. Note the carefully crafted images in the photo above. Through the years, as he managed to gain more and more political power in Alabama, he wrapped himself in the trappings of religion and argued in speeches and his own court rulings that the laws of God as he interpreted them superseded United States law and the Supreme Court. He was abetted in this distortion of American law by Ronald Reagan, who took a Presidential stand against Roe V. Wade in the early 1980s. Moore was also abetted by the various white, fundamentalist cult preachers who themselves saw opposition to Roe as a good horse to ride financially speaking. In Alabama, as in many other places, a great many voters think removing Roe V. Wade is the Silver Chalice, the sole criterion of how to vote. A man who managed to convict two racist murderers in the Birmingham church bombing is reviled by Moore supporters because he supports choice. It is the bright red line. It is trumped, apparently, by absolutely nothing. Among these voters, Mr. Moore still wins. (And there is the plain fact that Mr. Jones put the Klan in jail, so he's obviously a “race traitor.”)
So it should be at least understood that what Mr. Moore and his cult fundamentalist proponents want is an end to women's equality in America. It angers these people, enrages them. The bargain they want to make is, “we'll protect you, just be quiet, lie back, enjoy it.” There are other bargains that can be discussed later. For now, the passenger door is locked.
Mr. Moore is adept at this old logic, the logic of the plantation. Brandishing his little silver pistol the other day was symbolism. So was riding in on his horse, with his cowboy hat and black leather vest. He was MacArthur, walking through the water to the beach. I have returned, an exiled Patriarch, to my kingdom. It was as fine a ceremony as the procession to Westminster, with golden coach and bejeweled orb. But we should be able to see through this ceremony. Roe V. Wade confers power on American women. Even women who have not yet read about Roe V. Wade, who are just coming into their own lives and working a part-time job after school at some steak house in Gadsden, where their job involves learning how to tend to and please more well-off men who can pay the tab and tip if the service is perfect enough to suit their tastes. The waitress is the apprenticeship to the fundamentalist marriage, if you just play your cards right. Mr. Moore hated Roe V. Wade back then, and he hates it now. It takes away a power he believes is his, because some Old Testament God conferred it to him via Adam. Eve in those olden days was the sinner, the bringer of not life but pain and death. She was to be Adam's servant. She was literally “made” from him, and for him.
As Mr. Moore says to Sean Hannity, “I didn't date young women, but if I did, I asked their mothers first.” It's a culture you can still find here and there, in places like Saudi Arabia and Afganistan and Albania. Mr. Moore's behavior is not aberrant. It is of a piece. Roe V. Wade conflicts, for Mr. Moore, with the Old Testament laws. Mr. Moore is deposed by Roe V. Wade. And this deep conflict drives much of current Republicanism, particularly the part grounded in white fundamentalism. Perhaps Mr. Moore's basic “problem” is merely that he took the old ways a little too literally. If you look at it from Mrs. Nelson's point of view I mean. She had to carry his problem in her heart, for 40 some years. Today, Mr. Moore whines about his “reputation.” It's a reputation he stole. And that's also in the Bible somewheres, maybe even on the stone monument Moore paid for and even carved his copyright into.
Friday, November 10, 2017
The band I used to play in did a lot of work in Alabama. For all I know, nobody who came to hear us ever voted for George Wallace or Judge Roy Moore. It's a hell of a thing to be stuck in a state that never votes the way you think. It's a little better here in NC. Yes, we inflicted Jesse Helms on our country and the world, but we also elected some decent Democratic politicians, including our current Governor, who beat out a remarkable jerk swimming against the Trump tide of last year. The Virginia elections just past this week also offer some optimism to those of us who keep trying to remain sane, in the face of the authoritarian tide. This Roy Moore thing though. Dayammmm as they say. I would have thought that just brandishing his little silver pistol at his acceptance speech would have raised certain questions among the faithful. But the blinders just keep getting sewed tighter I guess.
This is not a new problem.
For further reading, see http://driftglass.blogspot.com/2017/11/remember-bush-plan-for-iraq.html
Just because Mr. Trump can't remember what he said in the last paragraph doesn't mean we can't keep a larger focus.