FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Moore’s Monument

by DAVID VEST

California be damned. Every rich moron and pathetic doofus in the Golden State may be running for governor these days, but a howling mob of good Christian people in Alabama is doing its level best to turn them all into yesterday’s news. Their leader, Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court, has made it clear that the Heart of Dixie will brook no competition in the race to rock bottom.

Thanks to him, the Alabama Taliban thinks it can walk on water.

Wearing two-and-a-half-ton granite shoes.

In Rome they threw Christians to the lions. In Circus Maximus Mongomericus, they throw red meat to Christian fundamentalists.

A couple of years ago I went online and checked out an Alabama politics newsgroup. “Increase Your Child’s IQ by up to Eight Points!” screamed one poster. Another called for public executions of school kids who are violent.

Moore’s Monument may have been rolled away, but how long do you think it will stay in the closet before he rolls it out again? Pity the road crew if he takes the thing on tour.

When I was at Birmingham-Southern College, the SAEs had a couple of stone lions guarding the frat house. Another fraternity would cover them in paint from time to time. On one occasion the lions disappeared entirely, only to be recovered from the bottom of the Cahaba River. Rumor had it that the next stage in the fraternal escalation would involve dynamite.

It was fun to image the offending fraternity rival going to a job interview in later years: “Yes sir, well, I’ve had some experience dynamiting lions…”

The part of Montgomery where Alabama governs itself was originally known as Goat Hill. Long before George Corley Wallace (or Jefferson Davis) climbed it, politicians railed against “the Tariff of Abominations” and other betes-noires. On one memorable day they passed legislation making it a capital offense to put salt on a railroad track. (The law is still on the books.) This was before candidates discovered that campaigns are most successfully waged when they are about nothing, nothing at all.

Uncomfortable discussing taxes, NAFTA and the Tariff of Abominations? Relax, just talk about the Ten Commandments, flag burning, gay marriage, prayer in the schools.

The last anybody outside the South heard of Alabama state politics before Judge Moore came along was when Lt. Gov. Steve Windom, Republican, was caught relieving himself under the podium in a water-cooler jug so he wouldn’t have to relinquish the floor during a filibuster. The receptacle became known as the Confederate Battle Jug.

Then there was former Gov. “Fumblin’ Fob” James, who was overheard cursing in the legislature — in support of school prayer. “No one has a greater appreciation for a classical education as I do, ” declared Gov. James on one occasion. He also said, “I didn’t descend from an ape.”

Which was almost as good as the time Lester Maddox of Georgia said, “If elected, I will disintegrate the schools.”

Judge Moore reminds many people of that other little banty rooster from Alabama, George Corley Wallace, who stood famously in the schoolhouse door, founded the American Independent Party and ran for president with Gen. Curtis “Bomb ’em Back to the Stone Age” LeMay stalking at his side.

The similarities between Moore and Wallace, while striking, are superficial. The differences are profound.

True, both Moore and Wallace are products of Alabama, have defied federal law and led populist revolts. It is hard to imagine either of them smiling. But George Wallace’s appeal was never especially religious. He showed little interest in setting up a quasi-theocracy and did not routinely claim to be defending the Almighty.

Nor, at the same time, has anyone heard Roy Moore intimate, as Wallace daily did, that he sees “not a dime’s worth of difference” between Democrats and Republicans.

Judge Moore’s antics seem more closely related to the infamous Brooksville Experiment and the impetus behind it than to the Wallace movement.

In the northern part of the state, near Decatur, some people wanted to carve a new town out of Priceville a few years ago. The few houses and trailer homes scattered along a stretch of road were henceforth to be called Brooksville. According to stated plan, the only law would be the Ten Commandments and the teachings of Jesus, as set forth in the Authorized King James Bible. The town would have a volunteer mayor and no other officials. Everybody would just get a gun and protect one another.

A Probate Judge shot down the idea on technicalities. Brooksville was quickly forgotten after an amusing paragraph or two in the New York Times. However, the impetus behind it did not simply fade away.

Brooksville is the nation in miniature in the eyes of religious fundamentalists, who have been trying to take over local, state, and national institutions for a long time — almost 400 years as a matter of fact, ever since Governor William Bradford and the Puritans of Plymouth Colony apoplectically objected to non-fundamentalists taking the day off from work to observe Christmas, an event Puritans regarded as a pagan if not popish holiday.

Among the abominations America’s founding fundamentalists couldn’t stand was, of course, the King James Bible (named in honor of the flaming homosexual monarch who “authorized” it — i.e., put up the money for the translation). Did the would-be founders of Brooksville know King James once fell in love with a page boy in the kitchen and created him Duke of Buckingham? Does Judge Moore?

Alas, if you think the idea of modern fundamentalists forming their own little town is funny, try laughing about this: they already control a great many school boards, giving them the power to decide what our children will and won1t be taught. They have elected hundreds of judges. Politicians everywhere must placate them daily. “Moderate” religious “leaders” are loathe to confront them in public. They are the loudest voice in many state legislatures, and no Republican presidential candidate would dare repudiate them. Instead, we get George W. Bush, who ran for office lecturing the poor on their responsibilities, proclaiming that the American people1s hearts aren1t right and campaigning at Bob Jones University.

The character Miles Brand (played by Lawrence Harvey) in the camp classic film “Darling” was said to be “impotent everywhere but in bed.” Judge Moore, who is articulate everywhere except when speaking or writing, evidently intends to make a public appearance or hold a press conference about every ten minutes for the rest of his life. The energy expended on setting up and tearing down his many-microphoned podium could have removed that granite monstrosity a dozen times by now.

This is all happening at a time when Alabama Gov. Bob Riley, another Republican, is trying to pass a $1.2 billion “tax and accountability package.” The bill, 594 pages long, will be voted up or down in a statewide referendum on Sept. 9. Meanwhile, the monument may be gone for now, but the Alabama Taliban is no more defeated than its Afghan counterpart.

DAVID VEST writes the Rebel Angel column for CounterPunch. He and his band, The Willing Victims, just released a scorching new CD, Way Down Here.

He can be reached at: davidvest@springmail.com

Visit his website at http://www.rebelangel.com

 

DAVID VEST writes the Rebel Angel column for CounterPunch. He and his band, The Willing Victims, have just released a scorching new CD, Serve Me Right to Shuffle. His essay on Tammy Wynette is featured in CounterPunch’s new collection on art, music and sex, Serpents in the Garden.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

March 29, 2017
Jeffrey Sommers
Donald Trump and Steve Bannon: Real Threats More Serious Than Fake News Trafficked by Media
David Kowalski
Does Washington Want to Start a New War in the Balkans?
Patrick Cockburn
Bloodbath in West Mosul: Civilians Being Shot by Both ISIS and Iraqi Troops
Ron Forthofer
War and Propaganda
Matthew Stevenson
Letter From Phnom Penh
James Bovard
Peanuts Prove Congress is Incorrigible
Thomas Knapp
Presidential Golf Breaks: Good For America
Binoy Kampmark
Disaster as Joy: Cyclone Debbie Strikes
Peter Tatchell
Human Rights are Animal Rights!
George Wuerthner
Livestock Grazing vs. the Sage Grouse
Jesse Jackson
Trump Should Form a Bipartisan Coalition to Get Real Reforms
Thomas Mountain
Rwanda Indicts French Generals for 1994 Genocide
Clancy Sigal
President of Pain
Andrew Stewart
President Gina Raimondo?
Lawrence Wittner
Can Our Social Institutions Catch Up with Advances in Science and Technology?
March 28, 2017
Mike Whitney
Ending Syria’s Nightmare will Take Pressure From Below 
Mark Kernan
Memory Against Forgetting: the Resonance of Bloody Sunday
John McMurtry
Fake News: the Unravelling of US Empire From Within
Ron Jacobs
Mad Dog, Meet Eris, Queen of Strife
Michael J. Sainato
State Dept. Condemns Attacks on Russian Peaceful Protests, Ignores Those in America
Ted Rall
Five Things the Democrats Could Do to Save Their Party (But Probably Won’t)
Linn Washington Jr.
Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Hiring Practices: Privilege or Prejudice?
Philippe Marlière
Benoît Hamon, the Socialist Presidential Hopeful, is Good News for the French Left
Norman Pollack
Political Cannibalism: Eating America’s Vitals
Bruce Mastron
Obamacare? Trumpcare? Why Not Cubacare?
David Macaray
Hollywood Screen and TV Writers Call for Strike Vote
Christian Sorensen
We’ve Let Capitalism Kill the Planet
Rodolfo Acuna
What We Don’t Want to Know
Binoy Kampmark
The Futility of the Electronics Ban
Andrew Moss
Why ICE Raids Imperil Us All
March 27, 2017
Robert Hunziker
A Record-Setting Climate Going Bonkers
Frank Stricker
Why $15 an Hour Should be the Absolute Minimum Minimum Wage
Melvin Goodman
The Disappearance of Bipartisanship on the Intelligence Committees
Patrick Cockburn
ISIS’s Losses in Syria and Iraq Will Make It Difficult to Recruit
Russell Mokhiber
Single-Payer Bernie Morphs Into Public Option Dean
Gregory Barrett
Can Democracy Save Us?
Dave Lindorff
Budget Goes Military
John Heid
Disappeared on the Border: “Chase and Scatter” — to Death
Mark Weisbrot
The Troubling Financial Activities of an Ecuadorian Presidential Candidate
Robert Fisk
As ISIS’s Caliphate Shrinks, Syrian Anger Grows
Michael J. Sainato
Democratic Party Continues Shunning Popular Sanders Surrogates
Paul Bentley
Nazi Heritage: the Strange Saga of Chrystia Freeland’s Ukrainian Grandfather
Christopher Ketcham
Buddhism in the Storm
Thomas Barker
Platitudes in the Wake of London’s Terror Attack
Mike Hastie
Insane Truths: a Vietnam Vet on “Apocalypse Now, Redux”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail