Monday, September 18, 2017


I'm no fan of "Ten Commandments judge" Roy Moore, who's probably going to be the next U.S. senator from Alabama, but I'm inclined to let this slide:
While making the case for unifying the electorate, a candidate for Alabama's open Senate seat ended up saying something pretty divisive.

Roy Moore, a former chief justice on the state Supreme Court, was speaking against racial, political and other divisions at a rally in Florence, Ala., on Sunday when he inserted two words that have been historically used as slurs.

“We were torn apart in the Civil War — brother against brother, North against South, party against party,” he said. “What changed?

“Now we have blacks and whites fighting, reds and yellows fighting, Democrats and Republicans fighting, men and women fighting,” Moore added. “What’s going to unite us? What’s going to bring us back together? A president? A Congress? No. It’s going to be God.”
"Reds and yellows" is not what we should be calling Native Americans and East Asians these days. On the other hand, as Ed Kilgore notes, this is, in all likelihood, a phrase Moore conjured from a non-racist memory:
As perhaps the vast majority of adults in Alabama understood immediately, Moore was alluding, consciously or unconsciously, to this timeworn children’s song...

Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight / Jesus loves the little children of the world.
Ed's a Georgian, and I'm betting he was raised knowing that hymn. I'm a lapsed Catholic originally from Boston, but I knew it as the introduction to "Everything Is Beautiful," one of the more serious songs performed by the musical comic (and now right-wing crank) Ray Stevens. This song was a plea for racial harmony, and it was a big hit during my childhood. Only later was I informed that the first few lines were from a Protestant hymn.

I'm also going to cut Moore some slack because I recall the benediction delivered by the Reverend Joseph Lowery at Barack Obama's first inaugural in 2009. Lowery, a hero of the civil rights movement, was 87 years old at the time; near the end of the benediction, he said this:
Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around — (laughter) — when yellow will be mellow — (laughter) — when the red man can get ahead, man — (laughter) — and when white will embrace what is right.

Roy Moore has angered me many times. He'll anger me many more times. He'll do it deliberately -- his religiosity is clearly, in large part, an effort to induce liberal tears.

I don't think he said "reds and yellows" to offend anyone -- which makes the phrase a rare utterance for him. So I'm going to take more offense at his call for theocracy than I am athis racial language.

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