Arwa Mahdawi

Roy Moore  is a man of God. We know this because the Alabama Republican Senate nominee has repeatedly stood up for good Christian family values throughout his career, often at great personal cost. In 2016, for example Moore was suspended from his position as Alabama chief justice after bravely ordering judges to ignore the supreme court’s ruling on same-sex marriages and, instead, continue to deny gay people their rights.

What Moore is probably most famous for, however, is refusing to take down a plaque of the Ten Commandments he hung behind his desk when he was the Etowah County circuit court judge back in the 1990s. His defiance in the face of the separation of church and state earned him the nickname the “Ten Commandments Judge”.

Well, that is what Moore used to be most famous for anyway. Now he’s becoming more famous for pursuing – and in two cases, allegedly assaulting – teenage girls when he was in his early 30s. On Monday Beverly Young Nelson became the second woman to accuse Moore of assaulting her when she was a minor, and the fifth to speak out against him. Moore has denied the allegations.

Speaking at a news conference in New York Nelson alleged that when she was 16 Moore tried to force himself on her and then threatened her, stating: “‘You are a child. I am the district attorney of Etowah County. ‘If you tell anyone about this, no one will believe you’.” Looks like Moore had the system pretty well worked out, eh?

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Nelson’s allegations follow a Washington Post story last week which reported that Moore had inappropriate contact with a 14-year-old girl when he was 32 and dated three other girls aged 16 and 18 when he was in his 30s. An article in the New Yorker on Monday also reported longstanding rumours that Moore was banned from a shopping mall in Alabama in the early 1980s for badgering teenage girls.

I don’t know what you have to do, exactly, to get banned from a shopping mall in Alabama, but I’d wager it’s pretty bad.

If Moore did even a fraction of the things he is accused of, then one might wonder how he has the gall to call himself a Christian. But, to be fair to him, nowhere in the Ten Commandments does it say “thou shalt not assault thy neighbor’s teenage daughter”.

Also, as the Alabama state auditor, Jim Zeigler, pointed out recently, there is biblical precedent for this kind of behavior. Zeigler came to Moore’s defense by saying, in so many words, that Joseph, the father of Jesus, was also a bit of pervert. “Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter,” he told the Washington Examiner. “They became parents of Jesus.”

Moore has also helpfully put his behavior into context. After issuing the standard ‘this is a witch-hunt!’ defence, he told conservative talkshow host Sean Hannity that he didn’t “generally” date teenagers when he was in his 30s. Like, not all the time, you know? You have to give him credit for that! He also said that he could not “remember ever dating any girl without the permission of her mother”.

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I don’t know about you, but I’ve always thought that if you had to get the permission of someone’s mother to date them, then that’s probably a pretty good sign that you shouldn’t. But, hey, what do I know about family values!

In fact, what do any of us really know about family values? It is well established that, in America, it is the Republican party who safeguard the sanctity of family values. Not only does the Republican party parrot this line all the time, but they’ve done an incredible job of ensuring we all help propagate the fiction that they are the party of values.

Just look at how many liberals automatically use the term pro-life, for example, instead of pro-removing-a-woman’s-control-over-her-own-body; a phrase which is certainly not as elegant but is a lot more accurate. Further, Trump’s ability to lie shamelessly over and over again, in the knowledge that when a lie is repeated enough it takes on the air of truth, has long been the modus operandi of the Grand Old Party.

This Roy Moore scandal, then, has been more than a little embarrassing for the Republicans – exposing as it does the utter hypocrisy of their much-flaunted but little-practiced set of Christian values.

While some conservative politicians and outlets are still standing by their man (Breitbart, predictably, is still decrying the allegations as Fake News designed to detract from more important issues like, you know, Hillary Clinton’s emails), many Republicans are carefully distancing themselves from Moore.

On Monday, Cory Gardner, for example, the chair of the National Republican Senate Committee, said that Moore should withdraw from the race. And if he refuses to withdraw and wins he should be expelled from the Senate because he doesn’t meet its “ethical and moral requirements”.

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The way things are going it looks like Moore is probably going to have to slink away from his Senate ambitions in disgrace fairly soon. But, please, let’s make sure the Republicans don’t get away with just distancing themselves from Moore and moving on.

This horrible saga isn’t just the story of one bad man, it’s the story of a party that is rotten at its core. A party that has cynically co-opted religion and the language of morality to further immoral ends. It’s about time that conservatives with any real values put a stop to this.

Source: The Guardian

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