On The Monitor this week:
- Last week Roy Moore won Senate runoff election to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Moore is no stranger to controversy (among other things, he has said that homosexuality should be illegal, Muslims to not be allowed in Congress, and 9/11 was God’s punishment for Americans’ sins). We talk with Frederick Clarkson about the significance of Moore’s victory.
- The Spanish government violently responded to an independence referendum in Catalonia. Hundreds were injured or unable to vote. The result, despite (or because of the low turnout) was about 90 percent in favor of independence. Sebastiaan Faber explains how and why this happened.
More about this week’s guests:
Frederick Clarkson is senior fellow at Political Research Associates, a progressive think tank in Somerville, Massachusetts. He is also the author of the 2016 report “When Exemption is the Rule: The Religious Freedom Strategy of the Christian Right” and wrote the book Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy. You can also read some of his recent work here. Quote: “Roy Moore is the most openly theocratic politician in national life — and he has a good chance of being the next U.S. Senator from Alabama. The special election to fill the remainder of the term of Jeff Sessions, who was appointed as U.S. Attorney General by president Trump, will be held on Dec. 12. Moore is heavily favored to prevail over Democrat and former federal prosecutor Doug Jones. Moore favors criminalizing abortion and homosexuality. He does not respect the authority of the U.S. Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution, and the federal courts to enforce civil rights laws. His views hark back to the time of massive resistance to civil rights for African Americans, when opponents invoked the notions of nullification and interposition — which basically meant that states could ignore federal actions; including court orders they believed were inconsistent with the Constitution. Like the nullificationists of the last century, Moore does not view the rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court and the federal courts as binding on the states. Particularly if they conflict with his idiosyncratic view of what God requires. Roy Moore epitomizes the contemporary politics of theocratic Christian dominionism in his attacks on separation of church and state and religious freedom. Moore was twice elected on a statewide ballot as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. He has also been removed from office each time because he violated orders from a federal judge. The first time, he had installed a two-and-a-half-ton monument to the Ten Commandments in the foyer of the state courthouse. A federal judge ruled that this was an unambiguous violation of separation of church and state and ordered it removed. Moore refused. The second time, he sought to undermine a federal court order to state officials to honor the Supreme Court’s 2015 stand for marriage equality in the case of Obergefell v Hodges. Moore sought to direct state probate judges not to issue same sex marriage licenses, claiming that existing state bans on same sex marriage were still in force.”
Sebastiaan Faber is a professor of Hispanic Studies at Oberlin College and author of several books, including Alcalá de Henares: Instituto Franklin de Estudios Norteamericanos; Anglo-American Hispanists and the Spanish Civil War: Hispanophilia, Commitment, and Discipline; Exile and Cultural Hegemony: Spanish Intellectuals in Mexico (1939-1975) and the forthcoming Memory Battles and the Spanish Civil War. He just co-wrote “Have Spain and Catalonia Reached a Point of No Return?” for The Nation. Quote: “While the repressive measures taken so far have certainly made a region-wide vote more difficult, the Catalans refuse to give up. In a nationally televised interview aired on Sept. 24, Catalan President Puigdemont vowed to go ahead with the referendum [this Sunday]. Meanwhile, the arrests of Sept. 20 have prompted massive, ongoing demonstrations in Barcelona and elsewhere.”