We all breathed a deep sigh of relief when we woke up on December 13 to the news that the loathsome Roy Moore had been defeated in Alabama. We are certainly entitled to a few moments of celebration, but before we assume the tide has really turned, we need to reflect on just how close this election was.
Doug Jones, a man of unimpeachable character and background, only very narrowly defeated a man who stands credibly accused of child molestation, and does not believe in the paramount legal role of the constitution, who is manifestly a racist, and who thinks all gays should be in jail. Tens of thousands in Alabama voted for Moore for U.S. Senate regardless of his utter vileness, and many of those voters were convinced Moore was “God’s chosen candidate.”
There is no need for us to further explore the character of Roy Moore. We already know a lot more about him than we can accommodate while still maintaining a quiet digestion of our lunch. What should concern us is the character of all those thousands of fellow citizens who willingly entered into the delusions of his smarmy “religious” sound bites, his repeated insistence that God had inspired him to run for office – implying that a vote for Moore was a vote for God. If that were so, the inescapable conclusion would be that God endorses molesting 14 year olds, that God is a racist and that God is directing Roy Moore to ignore the Constitution of the United States and create a theocracy — an American Taliban.
The blasphemy inherent in such a set of ideas is breath taking. In the old days, Zeus would have hurled a lightning bolt turning Moore into a southern fried chicken hawk.
Fortunately for Moore, the Christian God is less prone to violence, but one cannot but wonder if divine patience isn’t being put to the test. Be that as it may, it is not for us to speculate on the mind of God. It is very much for us however, to speculate about the minds of all those self proclaimed, hard shell “Christians” that voted for a man who embodies none of the Christian virtues and — further — whose primary endorsers, Bannon and Trump, are the very antitheses of those virtues.
So, in Alabama we had a credibly accused child molesting, theocratic hate monger endorsed by notorious liars, cheats and philanderers and so-called Christians flocked to vote for him. In the words of Ebenezer Scrooge, “I shall retire to Bedlam” for there is more sanity in that insane asylum than in the outside world.
The evident lesson in all this is that the peculiar form of evangelical Christian fundamentalism our nation has given birth to has virtually nothing to do with the teachings of Jesus Christ. I am reminded of Voltaire’s summation of that curious political construction of the Middle Ages, the Holy Roman Empire — that it was “neither holy, Roman, nor an empire.” Likewise, these radical fundamentalists appropriate a terminology and an historical mantle of greatness they are not entitled to.
The unshakable assumption that their special agenda is God’s will makes the Moore voters and their ilk an enemy within. They are, perhaps, the greatest danger to the future of the Republic. Only yesterday on the radio I heard a spokesman for the National Rifle Association declare the right to carry concealed weapons everywhere was “God given.” I must have missed the biblical passage that reveals God as being a gun enthusiast who thinks we should all have convenient means of shooting each other. If anyone can point it out to me, I’d appreciate the instruction. Failing that, we can take this as but one more example of a mind-set carved in stone to the effect that the agenda of the far right is much more than mere politics — it is religious dogma, and to disagree with it is to oppose God.
History has shown us repeatedly that such an attitude is the most destructive and deadly state of mind humanity can entertain. Reason cannot prevail against it, and neither common decency nor humane values will sway it. A single defeat at the polls will not discourage it. Rather this defeat will energize it to greater efforts.
Roy Moore has been defeated, but the culture that brought him very close to victory has not been defeated, and will indeed fight unceasingly and to the death to make the theocratic nightmare a reality. The values of democracy enjoin us to respect every individual’s right to believe whatever he or she defines as truth, and so we must. We do not, however, have to respect the beliefs themselves.
This small and temporary victory in Alabama should not form a bed of laurels to rest upon. It should instead sound a warning of danger narrowly averted, but still seriously threatening, and still to be guarded against, struggled with, and repulsed.
Watchmen man your post, for the enemy will soon be upon us once again.
Toby Grace is Out In Jersey magazine’s Editor Emeritus.