Alabama editorial roundup: Nov. 1, 2018 edition


Recent editorials from Alabama newspapers:


Oct. 30

The Gadsden Times on now compared to 1968:

Many folks with graying (or thinning) hair and achy joints remember 1968. With apologies to Ervin Drake, composer of a song that was a hit for Frank Sinatra in 1965, it wasn’t a very good year.

Oh, it ended all right for fans of the Detroit Tigers (who won the World Series), the Beatles (the “white album” was released that year) and the space race (the first two Apollo flights took place in the fall and winter, capped by Apollo 8′s gutsy lunar orbital mission at Christmastime).

There also were massive protests (against U.S. involvement in Vietnam and for civil rights) that, unfortunately, flared into violence, particularly following King’s murder and at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. (No one who saw the scene outside the International Amphitheater, broadcast in real time on TV, will ever forget it).

So, why are we offering a history lesson about what Smithsonian Magazine has called “The Year That Shattered America?“ Consider the news of the last week:

  • A man allegedly killed two African-American shoppers at a grocery store in Jeffersontown, Kentucky, after trying unsuccessfully a few minutes earlier to enter a black church. (We doubt his intentions were to pray at the altar.)
  • A Florida man was charged with sending mail bombs — forget what you’ve seen on social media; they weren’t duds — to a bunch of prominent Democrats, including former President Barack Obama.
  • A Pittsburgh man with an assault rifle, three pistols and a history of virulent and repugnant anti-Semitism is accused of slaughtering 11 worshippers, most of them elderly, at a synagogue in the city’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood.

So, it’s not floating into the ether to think back to 1968 — 50 years ago; imagine that — and wonder if history is on the verge of repeating or even topping itself, especially seven days out from a midterm election that’s being spun as Armageddon by some of our brethren in the national media and by opposing political forces who are convinced that this is good vs. evil and the very survival of mankind depends on their respective side prevailing.

Such polarization also contributes to dislodging the tenuous governors that, up until now, have kept cretins like the three who became infamous last week, and others who have committed violent acts in the past, from acting on those impulses.

It’s not going away in seven days. Neither will the ’round-the-clock discussion of the political implications of these horrific crimes, which of course commenced before the police tape had been secured at the crime scenes. Neither will the passions over the ultimate direction of this country, whose citizens increasingly aren’t able to connect on any level.

So this likely will fall on deaf ears, but we’ve got to try. Everybody from the White House to residents of the country’s smallest voting precinct needs to tone it down, because this particular trip “back to the future” doesn’t need to happen. We fear the consequences if it does.



Oct. 28

The Decatur Daily on U.S. House races:

North Alabama’s two representatives in the U.S. House take opposite approaches to listening to their constituents.

Rep. Mo Brooks has served as the Fifth District’s congressman since 2011. In his nearly eight years in office, he has grown increasingly detached from his constituents. He took two years off from holding town hall meetings, claiming the political climate was too volatile.

In 2017, the Huntsville Republican canceled an appearance at a town hall meeting, then showed up anyway, apparently as a way to dodge critics who didn’t show up after he had officially canceled.

When he does attend town halls, he is often incendiary, including the time he infamously said, in response to undocumented immigrants, “As your congressman on the House floor, I will do anything short of shooting them.”

Remarks like that may make Brooks a favorite of cable news, but they do nothing to advance the interests of the Fifth District.

Peter Joffrion, Brooks’ Democratic opponent, promises to bring a more level head and a more responsive ear to the district’s congressional seat.

Joffrion, a retired Huntsville attorney, is focusing his campaign on the so-called kitchen table issues that may not motivate partisans, but do matter to the vast majority of north Alabamians: education, health care and jobs.

As city attorney for Huntsville, Joffrion was involved in economic development, in particular the Twickenham development of downtown Huntsville.

He also supports measures that will have a trickle-down effect of helping with the state of Alabama’s strapped budget: expanding Medicare and sentencing reform. Both are federal issues that have a direct impact on two of the state government’s biggest line items: health care and prisons.

More to the point, however, as a Democrat in a red district, Joffrion knows he can’t get away with avoiding his constituents and get re-elected just on the basis of party ID.

The Daily recommends Peter Joffrion for the U.S. House Fifth Congressional District seat.


Democratic candidate Lee Auman from Union Grove has an impressive resume for someone not long out of college, but it can’t hide the fact he’s still young and lacks a lot of life experience. He may run for office again someday, and when he does, he will be someone to consider.

In the meantime, the Republican incumbent, Rep. Robert Aderholt of Haleyville, has served the Fourth District well … He seems to be responsive to constituents even when they don’t see exactly eye-to-eye with him politically.

Politicians, especially conservative Republicans, know they can always get a cheer from their base by attacking the media. Yet Aderholt is wise enough to know how important local media, including newspapers, are to a community. Aderholt was one lawmaker to make the case against timber tariffs that put the squeeze on the newspaper industry.

That is a testament to Aderholt’s willingness to listen, which is an all-too-rare commodity in these hyper-partisan times.

The Daily recommends Robert Aderholt for the U.S. House Fourth Congressional District seat.



Oct. 31

The Tuscaloosa News on “First Man” the movie:

We saw “First Man” over the weekend. At first, we were hesitant to see the film because of director Damien Chazelle’s decision to not include a scene showing astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin planting the American flag on the moon.

Planting that flag was a symbolic moment for the United States of America. Not only had we finally beaten the Soviet Union after repeated losses in the space race, but we had beaten it for what was then the ultimate prize — putting a man on the moon. So leaving that scene out of the film had elicited more than a few complaints.

We happen to be proud of this country and we’re a bit tired of those who would denigrate it at every turn because it’s not perfect. Of course it’s not. But some people, including some Americans, seem so consumed with demonstrating that the United States is flawed, that they can’t acknowledge that it is still a great country — a country that has done more good for humanity than any other, ever — and it’s exasperating.

But we decided to see “First Man”, anyway, if for no other reason than to find out whether the criticism was justified. Did Chazelle omit the iconic flag-planting moment as a sop to all those globalists who seemingly want to cut this country down to size? Did the film somehow diminish America’s incredible achievement in the interest of making a political statement? Chazelle said that was not his intent, and after seeing “First Man”, we believe him.

As the title makes clear, “First Man” was not about an American achievement; it was about the achievement of an American — Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon — and the sacrifices he made, the tragedies he endured, and the courage required to willingly be strapped into a cramped, spartan, space capsule, sitting atop what amounted to a container of a million gallons of rocket fuel, and launched into space at a speed of 36,000 feet (about 7 miles) per second. The dangers were real and ever-present, if not fully grasped by average Americans in that summer of 1969. Any minor mistake or flaw could have meant doom — there were many close calls — and the film makes clear that Armstrong was the man for the job. A flag-planting scene would not have fit this narrative.

History records that Armstrong, when he alighted on the moon, said “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” But we read recently that Armstrong claimed that he instead said, “One small step for a man,” which would make more sense. Without the “a″, “man” and “mankind” would be synonymous. We also read that a careful analysis of the recording does not detect the extra word, but say the phrase yourself — it would be easy to not enunciate the “a.”

We bring this up to point out that Armstrong, when he took that momentous step onto the lunar surface, did not say, “One giant leap for the United States of America.” Think about that if you’re bothered by what you’ve heard about “First Man.”

Besides being a great film, “First Man” reminded us of the importance of keeping an open mind. We’re glad we saw it. You should see it, too.