“Purity” as Racist Dog Whistle - Liberal Resistance

“Purity” as Racist Dog Whistle

William B. Turner

A good Christian pastor friend of Roy Moore recently claimed that he sought younger women because of their “purity.” The question of adult men chasing teen girls already smacks of sexism, as one has to assume that such men want a woman who will be relatively pliable and submissive.

But the “purity” claim is also dog whistle racism. Happily, most of us have forgotten the ugly things segregationists said during the African American civil rights movement to try to defend racial segregation, but they bandied the word “purity” around a lot. Segregationists worried a lot about the “mongrelization” of the race if black people and white people could consort freely with each other because they knew sexual relationships were inevitable. They also feared loudly for the “purity of white womanhood,” which was always under threat from supposedly predatory black men, who were always on the lookout for white women to rape, according to the segregationists.

There is also the troubling notion that a woman (or in Moore’s preference, teenage girl) who has slept with a man becomes that man’s property in perpetuity. The unspoken argument is that we can’t have black men sleeping with white women because then they will own them, and ownership of a person is only okay when white men do it to others.

It should come as no surprise that Moore and his supporters would appeal to racism as well as sexism. The two often go together, since the goal is usually to make life more comfortable for the likes of Roy Moore, who like to have women and African Americans in subordinate positions of servitude. This is “conservatism,” U.S. style.

Happily, we still seem to be moving largely in the direction of giving African Americans and women much more freedom about how to live their lives. Again, it is not very surprising that few, if any, of them really want to spend much time catering to the likes of Roy Moore.

The Roy Moore incident demonstrates that the war is far from over. That the allegations against Moore did not immediately and fully disqualify him tells us that the Republican Party, at least, is still home to people who still like the old ways. It is, after all, the notionally “conservative” Party in the United States.

Who will win the Alabama special senate election remains to be seen, but we should all keep up the rousing chorus condemning the Party that would have Roy Moore as its candidate.