- Jay Bookman The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Is this who you are, Alabama?
I’m asking as a friend, and as a neighbor and fellow American: Is this really, deep down, who you are and how you want to be perceived?
I am talking of course about this man, this “Judge Roy Moore.” You continue to call him by that title, even though he has had to be ousted — twice — from his position as chief justice on the state Supreme Court because he refused to abide by the U.S. Constitution. He tried to place himself above the highest law of the land, which seems pretty serious. And of course, he had to be removed twice from the highest judicial post in the state because, well, you elected him twice. That suggests not just a willingness but an eagerness by the people of Alabama to reject the rule of law upon which this nation rests.
Your fellow Americans believe that the Constitution must mean the same thing in every one of the 50 states, that a state line might influence which football team claims your loyalty, but not what it means to be an American. Do you disagree?
You also profess to be a religious people, with a deep concern for religious liberty as protected by the Constitution. That’s a fine thing: Religious freedom is at the core of our American experiment. Yet if you read the Constitution — if you carry a copy in your purse or back pocket, this would be a good time to pull it out — it says explicitly that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
Despite that crystal-clear language, Moore continues to argue that by virtue of their faith, Muslims should not be allowed to serve in Congress, and he has likened the taking of the congressional oath on the Koran to taking the oath on a copy of “Mein Kampf.” You don’t have to like Islam — that is certainly your right — but you should at least understand the shining bright line drawn by our Founders that Moore is tempting you to cross.
Speaking of shining bright lines, what do you think about a professional man in his 30s who is so predatory toward young girls — so out and out creepy — that he has to be banned from the local shopping mall? What do you think about a grown man who calls the local high school and pulls a girl out of trigonometry class so he can ask her for a date?
Is that OK in Alabama? Because in the other 49 states, not so much.
And the women making these allegations — they aren’t exactly “outside agitators.” They aren’t carpetbaggers from up North, come down to stir up trouble. Look at them. Listen to their stories; hear the pain and fear in their voices as they tell them. They might be your own sisters, your own daughters, your mothers and grandmothers even. They are the folks who sit next to you in the church pew on Sunday, who bring a casserole to Wednesday night prayer meeting. You might see them in the supermarket on Thursday; on Friday, you might see them cheering at the high school football game.
Are you comfortable dismissing them as liars and opportunists because attacking their virtue is easier than admitting that you might have been wrong?
Because I have to tell you, that’s what it looks like.
Electing a person to the U.S. Senate is the single highest honor that a state can bestow. You are choosing the person who will represent Alabama on the national stage; you’re telling the rest of us that this is the best and the brightest that Alabama can produce. Look at Roy Moore and ask yourself whether that is true.
I don’t think it is, but come Dec. 12, maybe you’ll prove me wrong.