If is the biggest little word in the English language.
It’s a useful word, but it can also be a slippery eel, squirming away from truths.
If former Alabama Judge Roy Moore molested a 14-year-old girl, he should stop his run for U.S. senator. That’s what a lot of Alabamans and American senators are saying: If.
To their credit, several Republican senators did not resort to the if word. They have withdrawn their endorsement of Moore for the U.S Senate seat.
The if word kept popping up last week after the Washington Post published a story that claims Moore, when he was in his early 30s, molested a 14-year-old girl and had dalliances with three other teenagers. All four, now women in their 50s, went on record with their names. Their charges were corroborated in the news story by 30 independent sources.
Why the accusations now, 40 years after the alleged behaviors? Long-time rumors of Moore’s hankering for teenage girls are what spawned the news story.
If that story appeared in the Washington Post, it’s obviously yet another example of “fake news.” That’s what many Moore supporters want to believe.
In an interview with Sean Hannity, Moore denied the incident with the 14-year-old girl, Leigh Corfman. But then, he went down a meandering verbal path that led to a confusing thicket of contradictory statements and memory gaps that were more like indirect admissions than convincing denials. He said back then he did “not generally” date teenagers and that he does not “remember dating any girl without the permission of her mother.”
Many have said the news story is far more credible than Moore’s equivocations.
At this point, it’s “they said vs. he said.” Those who say, “If Moore did it . . . “ know perfectly well the accusations will likely never be proven one way or another and certainly not before the Dec. 12 election. So Moore supporters are eager to give him the benefit of the doubt, and that is their right.
However, if we set aside the if word for awhile, the contortions of logic, good sense and morality used to defend Moore extend to the disgusting. The Alabama state auditor, for example, resorted to the following twisted justification: “Take Joseph and Mary,” he said. “Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents. There’s just nothing immoral or illegal here. Maybe just a bit unusual.”
Other Moore defenders are howling like werewolves against the usual scapegoats: the swamp creatures of Washington, D.C.; the crusty Republican Establishment; fake-news; and, of course, they trotted out the ol’ Obama-Clinton Machine (as Moore wrote in a tweet, adding he is now fighting a “spiritual battle”).
Many Alabama evangelicals say they will vote for Moore, even if his past is sullied, because that’s better, they say, than voting for a Democrat. Some evangelicals, however, condemned using the Bible as any sort of defense in cases like Moore’s.
This eruptive controversy just goes to show how many moral-ethical-legal lines are now frequently blurred and crossed due to political expediency – an alarming trend these days.
Moore, the pistol-packin’ Dixie cowboy, has long been fond of conspiracy theories, including the Obama “birther” lie. The self-styled juggernaut has crossed many a line in his long career. He has had flirtations with neo-Confederate and white-nationalist groups. He was the recipient of undisclosed payments for perks from the Foundation of Moral Law, founded by him. He was twice appointed to the Alabama Supreme Court and twice removed – once for violating a court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the Supreme Court building, the other time for encouraging judges to disregard the U.S. Supreme Court’s legalization of same-sex marriage. For those stands, the fightin’ judge was lionized by some, villainized by others.
Moore has suggested the 2001 terrorist attacks and the Sandy Hook school massacre of 28 people (including 20 children) were punishments by God because of “declining religiosity.”
The Republican Party, the family-values party, should insist this ex-judge, this violator of the Rule of Law, so unfit to serve as senator, should drop from the race. Steve Schmidt, Republican campaign strategist, gave a blistering critique of wink-and-nod Republicans. All of them, he said, must “repudiate the moral rot, the stench, the cancer” that threatens to infect the party by Moore and other reprobates and hypocrites like him.
If they do not, Schmidt warned, they will consign their beloved party to a shameful but justified oblivion.
Author: Dennis Dalman
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.