If ever I am asked why I spend so little time criticizing Social Justice Warriors on the Left despite my disagreements with them and instead devote most of my time to attacking the bigoted Right, I will bring up a couple of points. Firstly, Social Justice Warriors, despite my disagreements with them, are reacting to the historical and ongoing marginalization of groups such as racial minorities, women, and LGBT people in this country, so I prefer to address the root of the problem. Secondly, Social Justice Warriors control some universities, bigoted right-wingers control the country. We are now reminded of this again as the state of Alabama looks poised to trade a run of the mill, authoritarian right-wing bigot, Luther Strange, for a straight-up theocratic totalitarian, Roy Moore. First becoming famous for his refusal to remove the Ten Commandments from a courthouse in Alabama while serving as a judge, Moore has compiled a record of racism, homophobia, Islamophobia, and support for big government that make Donald Trump look like Russ Feingold. Let’s take a look!
Roy Moore speaking next to a seven star version of the lesser-known original flag of the Confederacy, aka “The Stars and Bars.”
In 2004, Alabama had a ballot initiative to remove a number of racist portions of the state’s legal code pertaining to school segregation and poll taxes. The state had voted on a similar initiative dealing with interracial marriage in 2000. In both cases, the laws had been rendered invalid by federal edicts a few decades ago, but it was still insulting to black residents and embarrassing for the Heart of Dixie that such laws remained on the books. The initiative was voted down, partly due to fears over one of the provisions proposed for repeal, the provision that denied, “any right to education or training at public expense.” Some Alabamans expressed concern that removing this provision would open up a floodgate of new regulations forcing the state to increase public funding of education. Roy Moore was on record as staunchly opposing the ballot initiative. Clearly, opposing more funding for education does not make one a bigot. However, it begs the point: in 2004, Alabamans had had fifty years since Brown v. Board of Education and over forty years since poll taxes were outlawed to remove the unambiguously racist portions of their legal code without removing the clause about education not being a right. More to the point (or perhaps, in this case, Moore to the point?), Moore and others could have easily lobbied in 2004 to repeal the provisions on segregation and poll taxes without repealing the provision on education not being a right. They did not bother.
Moore began claiming that President Obama was not a natural-born citizen back in 2008. According to Andrew Kaczynski and Paul LeBlanc of CNN.com, Moore stated that he still did not believe Obama was a natural-born citizen in December of 2016. This was even after Trump himself backed off of these rumors.
On one of the rare occasions that Moore acknowledged that black people had suffered in American history, his goal was to claim that homophobic people suffered worse. After the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in 2015, the Alabama judged fumed that, “In 1857 the United States Supreme Court did rule that black people were property. And of course that contradicted the Constitution and it took a civil war to overturn it. But this ruling in Obergefell is even worse, in a sense, because it forces not only people to recognize marriage [as] other than the institution ordained of God and recognized by nearly every state in the union, it says that you now must do away with the definition of marriage and make it between two persons of the same gender.”
If Moore dances on the edges of overt racism, there’s no ambiguity when it comes to his LGBT rights views. At CNN.com, Gregory Krieg states that, “he defied a federal court decision — this time striking down state laws banning same-sex marriage — and found himself facing off with the same ethics body that effectively ousted him nearly a decade earlier.” Krieg goes on to recount that, “A child custody case in 2002 was less of a national cause célèbre, but Moore used the outcome, and his concurrence, to author a vicious attack on same-sex parents.
‘I write specially to state that the homosexual conduct of a parent — conduct involving a sexual relationship between two persons of the same gender — creates a strong presumption of unfitness that alone is sufficient justification for denying that parent custody of his or her own children or prohibiting the adoption of the children of others,’ he said in one of the opinion’s more tame passages.
In others, Moore labeled ‘homosexual conduct’ by parents as being ‘detrimental to the children,’ writing that it ‘is, and has been, considered abhorrent, immoral, detestable, a crime against nature, and a violation of the laws of nature and of nature’s God upon which this nation and our laws are predicated.'” In 2005, he stated that, “homosexual conduct should be illegal.” When asked if it should be a capital crime, he answered, “I’m not here to outline punishments for sodomy.” In 2015, he reiterated his longstanding view that, “Homosexuality should be illegal.” During his current election campaign, Moore said, “We don’t need transgender bathrooms and we don’t need transgender military and we don’t need a weaker military.”
In 2006, Keith Ellison became the first Muslim elected to Congress and declared that he would take the oath of office by placing his hand on the Koran instead of the Bible. Moore wrote a column insisting that, “In 1943, we would never have allowed a member of Congress to take their oath on ‘Mein Kampf,’ or someone in the 1950s to swear allegiance to the ‘Communist Manifesto.’ Congress has the authority and should act to prohibit Ellison from taking the congressional oath today!” Now please understand that I agree with people who feel that the phrase “Islamophobia” often gets thrown around to squelch criticism of Islam. Obviously, making negative comments about Islam does not make someone an Islamophobe. But what we see here is Moore, a la Trump, explicitly declaring opposition to equal rights for Muslims. After all, whatever we think about the Koran, in a nation that does not privilege members of one faith above another, we cannot discriminate in terms of which “holy books” we allow people to use for their oath of office. Additionally, this statement is hilarious coming from the same person who insisted that his religious liberty was being violated if religious insignia was removed from public property
Freedom of Speech
When Donald Trump called for NFL players who did not stand for the National Anthem to be fired, his right-wing defenders argued that it was not a free speech violation because the NFL was a private company, and Trump was not forcing team owners to fire anyone or advocating that the State censor these players. Never mind the sheer inappropriateness of a president using his office to try and get workers fired from their jobs for protesting, the fact that he tried to intimidate the NFL on this issue by threatening to revoke their tax breaks, or his previous statements in support of flag burning bans. But it is as if Moore heard conservatives saying, “Nobody is advocating that the government punish people for kneeling,” and said, “Hey, hold my beer.” Moore recently claimed that, “It’s against the law, you know that?” He elaborated, “It was an act of Congress that every man stand and put their hand over their heart. That’s the law.”