What Else Was Wrong with Roy Moore

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tags: racism, civil rights, Roy Moore

Greg Bailey is the author of the not so quite forthcoming “The Herrin Massacre” (explanation here).

Thank God the voters of Alabama rejected Roy Moore, surely one of the worse people to ever run for office in American history. Lost amid the revelations of his molestation of a 14-year-old child and his pattern of sexual harassment, Roy Moore’s statements that the last good time in America was during slavery and his claim that the source of all our current problems can be traced to the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965 surely stand as the vilest and most ignorant ever uttered by an American politician.

      These attitudes, admittedly toned down a bit, are the foundation of the current occupant of the White House who grudgingly read a prepared speech of platitudes, none of which he believes, at the dedication of a civil rights museum in Mississippi.  Perhaps he was disappointed that Frederick Douglass, who’s doing such great work, wasn’t in the audience. 

    Not only is this wrong it is short-sighted. As Abraham Lincoln wrote:  “In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free – honorable alike in that we give and what we preserve.” The abolition of slavery not only freed African Americans it freed white Southerners. Led by traitors like Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee, Confederate soldiers, very few of whom owned slaves, were cruelly exploited at the cost of their life, limbs, homes and  future as free men. It is little wonder that so many of military age men refused to enlist or avoided the draft, and that a large number who did serve deserted.   

  Unfortunately the lesson the country might have learned and benefitted from was lost in a nationwide effort of segregation and oppression of blacks. The tragedy of this lost opportunity is reflected in every Confederate flag belt buckle and bumper sticker as people cling to the myth of an enemy of the United States which was decisively defeated.   

   Too many white people today think that civil rights only benefitted blacks and other minorities, and that in fact the civil rights movement took something from them.  In the heroic story of Rosa Parks we rightly focus on her courage to defy an oppressive law by the simple act of refusing to move to the back of a bus. But consider what the white bus driver had to go through. He had to stop driving and take time to demand a harmless lady obey a stupid and pointless law. Enforcing this nonsense was in a smaller but very real way a burden on him as it was on Rosa Parks. The energy and time whites put into these and other laws and rules that made up the daily structure of segregation was a drain on whites. Civil rights not only freed blacks from an unjust system, it also relieved whites of the burden of maintaining it.

    Visitors to the Pentagon often note that the building has an unusual number of restrooms. The reason behind it is that when it was constructed the laws of the state of Virginia required separate facilities for whites and blacks. Not only was segregation wrong it was ridiculously expensive and wasteful.

      For generations even racists had to admit the genius of George Washington Carver who among his many accomplishments saved Southern agriculture. His struggle to overcome prejudice was acknowledged perhaps even admired. But what of the many others who could not break through as Carver did? How many well qualified blacks were denied their chance to become doctors, engineers, teachers, architects and other occupations that could have benefited white people as well as blacks? How many white parents watched their children die for lack of medical care that could have been provided by the black men and women barred from medical schools and forced to stagnate in the lowest levels of society? How much better would this country be today if it hadn’t been weighted down by the millstone of racism for more than a hundred years?   Had much better would baseball have been if some of the best players hadn’t been forced to spend their careers in the Negro League?

     Who would think that cutting off two of their fingers would make their life better? But this is essentially what happened before the civil rights era.  The powerful cut off a large part of the population that could have made everyone, white and black, stronger. Two hands with ten fingers can build a better life. Civil rights did more than bring long overdue justice to blacks, it freed whites from its toxic effects.  

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