By Ryman Curtis
On Thursday, November 9, The Washington Post published an article accusing Judge Roy Moore, Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in Alabama, of initiating sexual encounters with both a 14 and 16-year-old girl. Just as a refresher, Moore is the same candidate who believes that large portions of Indiana and Illinois are under Sharia law and that “we’ve asked for” mass shootings because the country has “turned away from God.” Yet Republicans at all levels of government continue to support Moore, even after the allegations against him —with only one, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), calling on Moore to immediately drop out of the race. This continues the GOP trend of supporting—or at least not addressing—sexual assault within their party.
Responses from Republican officials in Alabama have disregarded the accusations of the four women, often in crass manners. Mobile County GOP chairman John Skipper told the Toronto Star that the article was “a typical Democrat ploy to discredit Judge Moore, a sincere, honest, and trustworthy individual.” While Moore is assuredly sincere in his far-right beliefs, he’s anything but honest or trustworthy. Beyond this laughable praise, Skipper’s statement continues the Trumpian trend of claiming all news derogatory of the GOP are fake and often written by “the liberals.” One of the most shocking responses Thursday evening came from Alabama State Auditor and gubernatorial candidate Jim Ziegler, a Moore supporter. Instead of even using the “wait and see” statement that many Washington politicians have issued, Ziegler entirely denied the allegations. In an interview with The Washington Examiner, he invoked the Bible in his defense of Moore, saying that since “Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter” Moore’s actions are not “immoral or illegal.” That’s right. Ziegler, a high-level state official, is comparing Roy Moore to Joseph. The straws that Moore supporters are grasping to defend him are unbelievable.
The most common response from Republican politicians in Washington has been along the lines of “we’ll wait and see if it’s true—after all, it happened 35 years ago.” This response, primarily coming from senators who endorsed Moore, is incredibly disturbing, perhaps more so than Ziegler’s obnoxious comments. While presented as a moderate, cautious statement, this response suggests that it’s morally acceptable to sexually assault teenagers, and that simply because the statute of limitations has expired, Moore can get away with it. (While we’re at it, it’s insane that there’s a statute of limitations on sexual assault of a child in Alabama of only two years after the child becomes an adult, and that there’s a statute of limitations on sexual assault in general.)
In a time where sexual assault allegations are leveled at high profile celebrities and politicians, the phrase “if it’s true” has become more and more common. Instead of believing the accusers, some prefer to defend the accused and demand more evidence. And when evidence is presented, and more accusers come forth, the demands stay the same. It’s never enough. The steady stream of sexual assault allegations directed at Donald Trump last October wasn’t enough for the vast majority of elected Republicans to retract support. Most of those that did retract support, like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), have now cozied back up to Trump. No matter how many women accuse Roy Moore of sexually molesting them, it won’t be enough for most Republicans. Hopefully, Alabamians will see through the so-called “Party of Family Values” and vote for Doug Jones on December 12.
Ryman is a freshman.