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Roy Moore Poisons Alabama's business climate

Froma Harrop

In 2006, a Chicago schoolteacher was sentenced to three years in prison for molesting teenage girls. He was 34 at the time and, according to news accounts, had slipped his hands under the shirt of a 17-year-old and fondled her breasts.

That's how a moral America deals with men who molest underage girls. Roy Moore apparently did the same at age 32, except that one of the girls was 14 and his hands roved down to panty level.

Every society has its Moores — sick predators who hide their perversions in a thick cloud of religiosity. Not every society would elect them to any office, much less a high one like the U.S. Senate.

It will be interesting to see whether the voters of Alabama find justification for letting such an individual represent them to the world. Alabama's business community is alarmed that they may.

Alabama has had great success luring foreign manufacturers. Mercedes-Benz, Airbus, Honda and Toyota are among the corporate giants based in other countries now employing over 87,000 Alabamans. The state last year attracted $1.5 billion in foreign investment.

Would multinationals feel secure locating to or expanding in a state that chooses a leader who traffics in the most primitive racism, homophobia and xenophobia — never mind his stalking of underage girls at a local mall? The bigger question here is not Moore himself but the civic culture that finds him OK.

These companies employ specialized workers from all over the world. Few have forgotten the horrific shooting of two engineers at a suburban Kansas City bar because they were dark-skinned foreigners. The engineers, one of whom died, were Indian nationals working for the tech firm Garmin.

The gunman had demanded to know whether they were in the country illegally. The engineers were working legally, plus they were educated in the U.S. The gunman shouted, "Get out of my country!" Then he fired. People back in India were so furious that the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi had to issue a statement condemning the "tragic and senseless act."

It's no secret that hostility toward foreigners has risen since the election of Donald Trump. State and local leaders who don't fight the poison -- or who, in Moore's case, pour more on — will be shunned by large businesses with multiethnic workforces, which most of them have.

Moore's lawyer made reference to MSNBC anchor Ali Velshi's Indian heritage in some bizarre defense of the candidate's sexual misconduct. Velshi is from Canada, actually.

Birmingham has been aggressively vying to win Amazon's second headquarters and the 50,000 jobs that would come with it. If Moore gets elected, Alabama can kiss that idea goodbye. But even if he loses, Amazon must confront the reality that the state's dominant party chose Moore over a normal conservative by 9 percentage points.

Moore is an intestinal disease for Alabama's business leaders. The Business Council of Alabama has not endorsed him, nor has the state's senior senator, Richard Shelby. Alabama may offer enormous taxpayer subsidies to attract manufacturers, but so can other places.

To overcome the state's fraught racial history, economic development officials place prominent pictures of blacks and whites working together on their promotional literature. But it would require quite a package to overcome the drawbacks of a state where the political leadership insults the workers they want to hire, not to mention activates local nut jobs who would do them harm.

This election, in the end, isn't a referendum on Moore. It's a referendum on a society that will decide whether he reflects Alabama values. There aren't enough advertising dollars on Madison Avenue to counter the reputational damage that a Moore win would bring.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.


Editorial
Why we remember Pearl Harbor

It was a day that would live in infamy: the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that thrust the United States into World War II. Seventy-six years later, it no longer stands alone in infamy for many Americans. There have been other wars. There was 9/11.

But Dec. 7, 1941, should stand alone.

For starters, Americans did not stand alone after the attack. They rose to their feet and an isolationist nation came together to fight for freedom in two theaters of war. It was a long, hard struggle that only ended in the Pacific with the dropping of atomic bombs.

Accounts of Pearl Harbor are harrowing and inspiring. Men asleep awakened to explosions. There was confusion. Smoke. Blood. And the unforgiving water that would take the lives of many U.S. sailors. Those first-hand accounts can be found on the Internet and in museums that honor the war dead of that day. But sadly, the progress of time has dimmed the voices of the men who were on ships, who clamored to battle stations, who cried over lost comrades.

To most of us today, World War II in general, and Pearl Harbor in particular, is a historic event and not much more. Yet we need to recall that this was not just a historic event; it was our historic event, a seminal moment in U.S. history. Because if we do not remember Pearl Harbor, we cannot expect generations to come to remember 9/11. It is a responsibility borne by each new generation to recognize the sacrifice made by the previous ones.

We remember this 75th anniversary not just by moments of prayer and reflection, but by refocusing on being better Americans. There were dark moments during World War II for democracy within the United States. Japanese-Americans were forced from their homes and put into internment camps. It was wrong then and doing something similar today would be wrong as well.

The thing is, freedom is hard to defend in battle and most often harder to defend in peace. The Greatest Generation mourned a tremendous loss of human life in the days following Pearl Harbor. They rallied behind President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s call to arms and they did not look back. They could not look back. There was no time for that.

That is our part today, 75 years later – to look back with awe at ordinary people becoming extraordinary and to personally thank, if possible, that shrinking number of individuals who were there when death fell from the sky.

In his speech to Congress and the nation on Dec. 8, 1941, Roosevelt said: “No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.”

There was no equivocation in those words, despite the fact that much of the U.S. Navy had been destroyed because Roosevelt counted on the strength of the American people. There is much that divides us today – some of it is of consequence, and some of it is merely the result of too little generational sacrifice, a lack of understanding of what is and is not important.