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HINRICHS: People must elect leaders with better moral compasses

Opinions Column: Unveiling the Truth

The standard for gaining a political position has been diminished and lowered so that those who follow doctrines of brutality, criminality and sexual abuse can wield significant influence in their representation of the people. Lines once drawn in the sand have faded away by the winds of abuse and division. Party has been placed in front of country and pursuit of power has been placed higher than moral principle. 

Conjuring up a scarred past that was purposefully locked in the farthest most hidden corner of one’s mind must be unimaginably painful. Yet women, as well as men, have begun to come forward to both lift the weight of their past off of their shoulders and lift the veil off of the public’s consciousness. 

With an unobstructed vision of America’s patriarchal culture of rape and sexual assault, it becomes all of our responsibility to respond reasonably, justly and in the best interest of the victims. 

In a press conference on Monday, Beverly Young Nelson became the fifth woman to accuse Roy Moore, Republican candidate for Senator in Alabama, of sexual misconduct. 

Nelson, her voice shaking with every word and intensity growing with every sentence, continued to relive her experience. 

“I thought he was going to rape me. I was twisting and I was struggling and I was begging him to stop … At some point, he gave up and he then looked at me and he told me, he said, ‘you are just a child ... I am the district attorney … If you tell anyone about this, no one will ever believe you,’” Nelson said.

Moore warned 16-year-old Nelson that no one would believe her if she came forward. Now Alabama decides if Moore was right.

For many GOP politicians, it was not Moore’s zealotry, his anti-LGBTQ and xenophobic platform, his bigotry or even the accusations of sexual misconduct from four previous women that caused them to jump ship. It was Nelson’s bravery to recount her harrowing account to the public. 

Previously, on Nov. 9, The Washington Post broke the story of Roy Moore’s alleged sexual misconduct with four women in the 70s and 80s, all of whom, were between the ages of 14 and 18, while Moore was in his 30s. 

A former colleague of Moore and former Deputy District Attorney, Teresa Jones, told CNN that, “it was common knowledge that Roy dated high school girls ...” According to Jones, Moore would “hang out at high school football games and the mall ..." 

The New Yorker broke the story that Moore was actually “banned from the mall because he repeatedly badgered teen-age girls.” This was the same mall that he had met with two of the women that have come forward, and he was also banned from the “YMCA for his inappropriate behavior of soliciting sex from young girls.”  

For many GOP Senators, the fitting response for the substantiated accusations of four women was silence. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell remained silent for days after The Washington Post article, but eventually made a statement in support of the women following the account of Nelson, who had voted for President Donald J. Trump in 2016 and whose raw and moving testimony could not be ignored.

Yet, even as light has exposed darkness, it rests upon the voters of Alabama if darkness will win the day and grant Moore a seat in the U.S. Senate. 

While the GOP now condemns Moore and attempts to cut ties with the candidate, its silence on the president is ironically contradictory. Trump was accused of sexually assaulting at least 16 women and was caught on video claiming that if you “grab ‘em by the p****, you can do anything.”

The current practice of diversion is to deny the accusations, claim that the coverage of the allegations is “fake news,” assert that Washington is trying to undermine them, accuse their opponent of wrongdoing and wait for the public to forget in time. 

We the people perpetuate this practice and we the people must mandate that politicians receive the highest level of scrutiny befitting their position of power. The culture of sexual assault carried out through positions of power is a nonpartisan issue and does not end at Moore and it will not end after the Alabama senatorial race. Most Rutgers students will have no direct voting impact on the race, but we will have a choice to make. Whether we act in advocacy of victims and set a moral and ethical standard for our representatives that is not among the sewage but high above the rest, or we forget the trauma, pain and courage of those who came forward to reveal the twisted, dark truth, depends on us.

Luke Hinrichs is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year majoring in political science and economics. His column “Unveiling the Truth“ runs on alternate Wednesdays.


*Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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