Deplorables Defend Accused Rapist

[Content Note: Sexual assault; rape apologia.]

As I have previously noted, the Republican Party does not have a solid history of taking sexual assault seriously, to put it mildly.

There was that time House Republicans tried to redefine rape so that it was only "real" rape if it involved force. Then there was the time that Senate Republicans blocked votes on military sexual assault legislation. There was that other time New York state Republicans blocked a proposal to eliminate the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse. And let's not forget that time when Georgia state Republicans didn't want to consider a proposal on rape kits and accused the Democratic sponsor of "politicizing" the issue to get votes.

There was that time former GOP Senator and two-time presidential candidate Rick Santorum said that pregnant rape victims should make the best out of a bad situation. And that time former GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin argued that pregnancy from rape is really rare, because "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." And that time Akin also accused women of lying about rape. And that time GOP Senate candidate Richard Mourdock said that getting pregnant from rape is god's plan. And all the times Republicans have told women how to avoid getting ourselves raped, as if it's our responsibility to stop rapists rather than predators' responsibility to not rape people.

And then there's the current Republican president, whose opening salvo in his campaign was to call undocumented Mexican immigrants rapists; who compared trade deficits to rape — twice; who is himself a confessed serial sex abuser; and whose Secretary of Education has rewritten campus assault guidlines to favor predators.

This is hardly a comprehensive list. The litany of examples of Republicans blocking legislation that would address sexual assault or support survivors, and of Republicans saying inappropriate things about rape and/or its victims, is interminable. And intolerable.

So it's not exactly shocking that there are Republicans who are going to incredible lengths to defend Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, who has been accused of preying on and assaulting young girls.

Moore's campaign chair Bill Armistead issued a statement of denial, in which he leveraged the culture of silence around sexual assault as "proof" the allegations couldn't be true: "After over 40 years of public service, if any of these allegations were true, they would have been made public long before now. This garbage is the very definition of fake news and intentional defamation."

Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler said in Moore's defense: "Even if you accept the Washington Post's report as being completely true, it's much ado about very little."

Ziegler also offered one of the weirdest defenses: "Take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus." I mean, that isn't even close to being right. In any way.

And then there was Paul Reynolds, the Republican National Committeeman from Alabama, who said, "My gosh, it's The Washington Post. If I've got a choice of putting my welfare into the hands of Putin or The Washington Post, Putin wins every time." Uh, okay.

Jonathan Gray, a Republican strategist, said that Alabama Republicans will still vote for Moore if it prevents a Democrat from winning the seat: "I think they'd rather put Satan up there and then get him removed in the next election than lose the chance to correct what they think has been an injustice for eight years."

Even many of the Republicans who didn't outright defend Moore carefully couched their statements with some variation on "if the allegations are true."
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, speaking to reporters on Air Force One early Friday morning en route to Vietnam, said, "Like most Americans, the president believes that we cannot allow a mere allegation — in this case, one from many years ago — to destroy a person's life. However, the president also believes that if these allegations are true, Judge Moore will do the right thing and step aside."

"The allegations against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore are deeply troubling," National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair Cory Gardner said in a statement. "If these allegations are found to be true, Roy Moore must drop out of the Alabama special Senate election."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, leaving the Senate chamber Thursday afternoon, said, "If these allegations are true, Roy Moore should step aside for all the obvious reasons. Very disturbing allegations."

Sen. Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican who has been critical of Moore, also said Moore should withdraw as the nominee if the allegations are correct. Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski said she was "horrified" by the Washington Post report, adding, "If this is true, he needs to step down immediately."

Georgia Republican Sen. David Perdue also said Moore should withdraw if the allegations are true. "I mean, I'm sorry, but this is untenable — if they're true. I have no facts, I just saw the story. But it's very serious." Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey said, "If there's a shred of truth to it, then he needs to step aside." Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins agreed: "If there is any truth at all to these horrific allegations, Roy Moore should immediately step aside as a Senate candidate."

Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman added, "I think if what we read is true, and people are on the record so I assume it is, then he should step aside."
If it's true that Roy Moore is a rapist in addition to being a racist, Islamophobic, queer-hating, misogynist, anti-choice, Christian supremacist dirtbag, then his fellow Republicans think he should drop out.

Party of moral values, right there.


This entire party. For fuck's sake.

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