Roy Moore won the Republican primary in Alabama on Tuesday, September 26, putting him in front for the race to the Senate. This pious, controversial figure represents an image of rural America where religion and politics intertwine.
Roy Moore was relieved of his position as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court in 2003 for refusing to remove a monument depicting the Ten Commandments he had commissioned and displayed in his courthouse in Montgomery. I painted a picture of this “fallen judge” and probably soon-to-be senator who will likely be supported by Trump, in my 2004 book Made in USA : Regards sur la civilisation américaine. At the time, I described him as a “self-styled pastor” who received people under a portrait of George Washington and who was quick to quote Bible passages. I saw this latter characteristic as “a trait shared by all Southern preachers, whether they preside over places of worship or hold political office.”
“America is on a downward spiral because it has lost sight of the exceptional quality of its Constitution,” said the former judge when I met with him. “If this Constitution has resisted the ravages of history, it’s because it is extraordinary. Unfortunately, since the 1920s, humanist and secular legal experts have seized control of law schools and the courts of justice to impose their revisionism. Abortion and divorce have been legalized against the will of the majority of Americans, which has led to a deterioration in morals and family values. The Constitution — much like the Bible — should not change.”
I would never have thought this bizarre, fanatical character would continue to attract attention and develop a political career 13 years on. (But then, no one imagined Trump would become president.) What astonished me about Roy Moore was his outlandishness. He is a foot soldier in a cause that is over his head, a Christian fundamentalist, a defender of an intangible Constitution, and a believer of conspiracy theories. He remains convinced that Obama was not born in the United States, and that homosexuals are the devil’s work. There is no equivalent figure on the French political scene, not even within the Front National party.
For those looking to identify what separates our two countries, Roy Moore, both in 2004 and today, is a fine example. Even the extreme swaths of France appear more reasonable when compared to this side of America. But I do not judge, as we can never judge something we do not understand. As Tocqueville wrote, “to understand the United States and France, one should never compare them.”